Microsoft executive defends Surface devices amid 'poor predicted reliability' remark

Consumer Reports remove 'recommended' status from four Microsoft laptops.

microsoft corporate vp for devices panos panay.jpg
Microsoft's Panos Panay defends Surface laptops and tablets Reuters

Microsoft is defending its own Surface devices following the announcement of Consumer Reports that it can no longer recommend the company's laptop and tablet lineup due to "poor predicted reliability". A Microsoft executive stands by their hardware products, saying the Surface line "ranks highly in customer satisfaction".

Not recommended

Consumer Reports on Thursday published an article announcing that is "removing its 'recommended' designation from four Microsoft laptops", adding that it "cannot recommend any other Microsoft laptops or tablets". Consumer Reports, a venerable nonprofit organisation known for providing unbiased product ratings and reviews for more than 80 years, cited "poor predicted reliability" as the main reason for such decision.

In a new study conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, around 25 per cent of Microsoft laptop and tablet owners have reported issues and concerns with their Surface devices after two years of ownership.

Of all the impacted devices, Microsoft Surface Book (both 128-gigabyte and 512-gigabyte versions) and Microsoft Surface Laptop (both 128-gigabyte and 256-gigabyte versions) have lost their previous recommendations from the organisation.

"Microsoft's estimated breakage rate for its laptops and tablets was higher than most other brands'", states Consumer Reports. "The differences were statistically significant, which is why Microsoft doesn't meet CR's standards for recommended products".

surface laptops and tablets
Surface lineup Microsoft

Failed consumer reliability

According to Consumer Reports, their studies cover a range of factors to determine how a laptop or tablet performs. Criteria include display quality, speed, ergonomics and battery life. Microsoft Surface devices performed well in these parameters but failed in consumer reliability.

Its survey manager Simon Slater says they received a mishmash of information from 90,741 laptops and tablets of different brands from subscribed consumers between 2014 and 2017. Common complaints about the Surface devices include sudden shutdown and freezing, unresponsive touchscreens and boot issues.

Customer satisfaction

In response to the article, Microsoft's corporate vice president for devices Panos Panay admits the result is "disappointing". But he stressed that Surface laptops and devices "ranks highly in customer satisfaction".

"We disagree with their findings", writes Panay in a statement. "98% of Surface Pro 4 users and Surface Book users say they are satisfied with their device, and our Surface Laptop and new Surface Pro continue to get rave reviews".

Panay cites a new study conducted by the research company, IPSOS, that Microsoft's expected 1-2 year failure and actual return rates for Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book "are significantly lower than 25 percent. The study was conducted between January and June 2017 in the US, the UK, Germany, Australia, France, China and Japan.

"We are proud of our products", stresses Panay. "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".

Millions of consumers around the world turn to Consumer Reports to know how products perform. With Consumer Reports removing its recommendation from Microsoft devices, the move is expected to directly impact the cloud software company's sales for Surface devices.