Microsoft memo confirms Consumer Reports was right about the Surface

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Surface Book
Apple won't make a 2-in-1, but Microsoft has more up its sleeve.
Photo: Microsoft

A leaked Microsoft memo confirms that Consumer Reports was right to retract its recommendation rating from the Surface lineup due to reliability concerns.

Microsoft previously denied that users were experiencing an abnormal number of issues with its devices, but an internal document reveals that the Surface Book and Surface Pro 3 both have unusually high return rates long after launch.

Consumer Reports initially recommended four Microsoft Surface devices, which have been praised by critics for their design, features, and performance. The lineup has also been credited with bringing renewed interest to the PC market with innovate 2-in-1 designs.

But last week, that recommendation rating was pulledConsumer Reports cited “poor predicted reliability” after surveying 90,000 Surface owners and finding that around 25 percent of devices “present their owners with problems.”

It doesn’t look like the results of they survey were inaccurate, despite Microsoft’s attempt at dismissing it.

An internal document obtained by Paul Thurrott reveals that the Surface Book had a return rate of 17 percent following its launch, and that it remained above 10 percent for six months. The Surface Pro 3 had an 11 percent return rate at launch, though this did drop below 10 percent later.

“The Surface Book has suffered from consistently higher return rates than any other Surface product throughout the nearly two years it has been on sale,” notes The Verge.

Both the Surface Book and the Surface Pro 4 have been plagued by various issues, like random crashing, driver issues, display problems, and poor battery life. Microsoft promised to fix the issues before the devices went on sale to everything, but it didn’t.

Some of the problems weren’t addressed until four months after these devices went on sale, which explains why so many customers decided to just return them.

Microsoft says the issues are no more

“Microsoft’s memo, authored by Surface chief Panos Panay, also notes that the company has “worked tirelessly” to fix the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 problems,” adds The Verge. Panay believes the improvements were not reflected in the Consumer Reports survey.

Microsoft insists it has addressed all problems with the Surface lineup now, and that return rates have decreased over the last 12 months as a result. It will be hoping that Consumer Reports’ review of its next-generation devices reflects that.