Microsoft hits back at Consumer Reports’ claims its Surface range is not up to standard

Back in April, Microsoft was basking in the warm glow of having its Surface devices beating Apple in terms of tablet satisfaction. Now it’s having to deal with the fallout of Consumer Reports withdrawing its recommendation of Surface devices, over claims that too many users have reliability issues after a couple of years’ use.

Microsoft hits back at Consumer Reports' claims its Surface range is not up to standard

The group claimed that an estimated 25% of Surface users will have problems with their purchase within 24 months. “Microsoft’s estimated breakage rate for its laptops and tablets was higher than most other brands’”, reads the blog post justifying the decision. “The differences were statistically significant, which is why Microsoft doesn’t meet CR’s standards for recommended products.”

The group was keen to point out that this withdrawal of recommendation was based purely on reliability, pointing out that on other metrics, Microsoft products perform very well, achieving “very good” or “excellent” scores across multiple tests. But Consumer Reports claimed the reliability issue simply couldn’t be ignored, as it’s an important factor for shoppers.

The withdrawal covers “Microsoft devices with detachable keyboards” alongside the company’s traditional Surface laptops. “Microsoft is relatively new to the hardware business, and this is the first year CR had enough data to estimate predicted reliability for the company’s laptops,” the group explained, adding that issues with freezing, unexpected shutdowns and touchscreen responsiveness were all highlighted by survey commenters.microsoft_hits_back_at_consumer_reports_surface_criticism_-_1

Still, Microsoft is in reasonable company: both Apple and Tesla have had their Consumer Reports ratings reduced in the past.

Microsoft disagrees

Microsoft’s initial statement was short and to the point. The company told Consumer Reports: “We don’t believe these findings accurately reflect Surface owners’ true experiences or capture the performance and reliability improvements made with every Surface generation.”

But the criticism clearly got under the company’s skin, and it’s now published a slightly longer blog post defending its devices. Written by corporate vice president of devices, Panos Panay, the company claims that both its own predicted one- to two-year failure rates and actual return rates for recent Surface products are “significantly lower” than 25%. “Additionally, we track other indicators of quality such as incidents per unit (IPU), which have improved from generation to generation and are now at record lows of well below 1%,” Panay added.

“We are proud of our products and the amazing things our customers are doing with them. We stand firmly behind the quality and reliability of the Surface family of devices, and I can confidently tell you there has never been a better time to buy a Surface.”

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