Consumer Reports no longer recommends Microsoft Surface devices due to reliability concerns

Shawn Knight

Posts: 12,999   +130
Staff member

Consumer Reports is no longer recommending Microsoft’s line of Surface PCs due to reliability concerns. The publication on Thursday said that new studies conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center estimate that 25 percent of Microsoft laptops and tablets will present their owners with problems by the end of the second year of ownership.

Microsoft, as you know, is relatively new to the hardware game. As such, this is the first year that Consumer Reports has had enough data to estimate predicted reliability for its laptops.

Consumer Reports specifically mentioned four laptops in its report – the Surface Laptop (128GB and 256GB versions) and the Surface Book (128GB and 512GB versions) – but said its decision applies to all Microsoft devices with detachable keyboards as well as those with conventional clamshell designs.

The publication gauges reliability by surveying its subscribers about the products they use and own.

In this case, Consumer Reports said the estimated breakage rate for Microsoft’s products was higher than most other brands’. The differences were “statistically significant,” we’re told, which is why Microsoft lost the “recommended” designation.

Some survey respondents said they experienced problems with their devices during startup while others commented that their systems froze or shut down unexpectedly. Consumer Reports said others told them that the touchscreens on their devices weren’t responsive enough.

In an e-mailed statement to the publication, Microsoft said its real-world return and support rates for past models differ significantly from Consumer Reports’ breakage predictability. The rep added that they don’t believe the findings accurately reflect Surface owners‘ true experiences or capture the performance and reliability improvements made with every Surface generation.

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Posts: 3,087   +1,478
My surface 3 was littered with software issues, and the device itself experienced noticeable warping over time.

Im now on a thinkpad x230t - it replaced my surface and my aging laptop. Threw an SSD in it and its FAR more enjoyable to use than either device (the laptop being an ideapad z585)

I wouldnt buy a surface product again for a long time. The warranty is also way behind other products in the price range and more important due to higher possibility of break-ability.

This is coming from someone who BADLY wanted a surface btw - I always thought they were brilliant devices before I had one. Though im sure the pros are a bit better than the 3.


Posts: 3,836   +1,186
I'm a big fan of the Surface, and I will not defend it... I've run into a couple of software issues, nothing I couldn't fix, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who is not tech-savvy as it's prone to issues, I've seen the same things happen to people I work with who also have Surface devices.

PS: I also know someone who gives the Surface pro 4 a lot of physical punishment, and never had an issue before. I think it's a hit or miss if you get a good one.


Posts: 222   +221
I have a Surface Pro 3 (256GB) and have had only minor software issues. Aside from that though, it's been great. It gets a lot of use and has held up well for me along with the Pro 4 Type Cover I have.


Posts: 367   +166
I have a surface pro 4 which I had to send back under warranty 3 times ... can't say I am surprised by this article. Even the one I have now is plagued by battery and software issues. And I KNEW that they were bad products in general, because each time I had to send one back I had to follow in depth trouble shooting guides available on their forums - a lot of unfortunate people were in my situation. For most of them, the trouble shooting guides worked - me on the other hand, with their support helping me, could not make the damn thing work. Each time, wasted two days - troubleshooting, backing everything, shipping.

Yet, whenever I mentioned that surface is crap, people were quick to jump to its defence: bad luck dude, we have like a gazillion surface devices here, never had an issue with any of them and so on ... Really? you weren't using them you dipshits

Frankly, I think one should be retarded to buy their latest, the surface pro 5, given the fact that it still lacks usb c and the graphics is still shite ... you don't need to know is a crappy product in general, just compare it with the competition and make the God damn right choice


Posts: 367   +166
PS: I also know someone who gives the Surface pro 4 a lot of physical punishment, and never had an issue before. I think it's a hit or miss if you get a good one.

Huh what? you know the screen is gorilla glass 4 while the casing is magnesium? A bit challenging to break those, you need to struggle a lot to do it don't you think? But then again we are talking about premium segment, at least the case and screen protection they got right. Pity everything else was crap ...


Posts: 525   +591
HP was rated at 20% issues at two years. The Surface line at 25%, slightly worse, but far from a guarantee of failure. I wouldn't buy one, and suggest that customers avoid the newer Surface devices, because of the 0 repair-ability scores, at iFixIt. Fixing any issue that requires disassembly destroys the newest devices. That's the biggest issue, as far as I'm concerned. When your Surface Pro (latest) battery dies in a few years, you'll be stuck with A/C only use, or go buy another device.


Posts: 246   +87
Im on my second SP4 and I really love it(work computer and I changed jobs). They do have their issues, but updates took care of most of them.

I can tell you this thing is built like a tank. by laptop backpack opens from the side, and one day in a hurry I forgot to sip it shut, when I grabbed my bag and swung it on my shoulder the surface flew out and landed on the floor (commercial carpet over concrete) and it bend the corner!, I unbent it by lightly heating it and never had an issue. I dont believe any other laptop would have survived!

On the other hand my dad has a SP3 and we have returned it twice under warranty has it bricked itself


Posts: 12,661   +6,033
I'm wondering why anyone thought Surface would turn out to be any different. Microsoft still hasn't come off their high horse from when they shafted Windows 7 users out of SP2. I will remember that for a very long time.


Posts: 631   +401
MS will keep people disappointed. There was a reason why stores were flooded with refurbished surfaces. That is already a clue that people were not satisfied spending hundreds of dollars to it and it was a pain to use. Don't invest in their hardware business.


Posts: 16,430   +5,214
I've had a number of M$' wireless "Comfort Curve" keyboards. They're wonderful to type with, but the damned receivers crap out if you look at them sideways. Their USB to PS2 adapters are crap as well. I have about 4 of the keyboards which would be usable, if had anything working to plug into the desktop to, "get their point across", so to speak.

As for the "Surface" product, you were already told they're glued together and basically unrepairable. Couple that with a high failure rate, and you have a product you should avoid like the plague....:eek:


Posts: 8,645   +3,288
Surely the manufacturing of the products are outsourced to reputable and reliable manufacturers. M$ won't make their devices themselves. Design them, yes, but not manufacture them.


Posts: 16,430   +5,214
Surely the manufacturing of the products are outsourced to reputable and reliable manufacturers. M$ won't make their devices themselves. Design them, yes, but not manufacture them.
Hey, when you put your name on it, you own it. If the product breaks more than it should, it's coming out of your pocket. Which means it's time to find another OEM.

In reality, people begging for "smaller, lighter, thinner products", are bringing a lot of this on themselves.
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Posts: 1,868   +900
M$ has never really been good with hardware... at my work we have about 60 of these Surface tablets, half of which are 3's and the other half are 4's, and I have to agree with the comment above that it is hit or miss. Some work perfectly fine, while some just have problems. Docking issues, USB issues, touch screen issues, and of course lots of OS related issues. The latest 1703 Win10 update though seems to be doing fairly well, assuming you can get it installed.

I personally wouldn't have bought them, but I'm not in control of purchasing. Seems M$ may be wanting to get away from the Surface though and now that they have demonstrated a good design to the world, it is time for other manufactures to step up and emulate, which some are. From a design perspective the Surface is awesome, but reliability is something M$ can never seem to get solid.

alabama man

Posts: 563   +355
"Microsoft, as you know, is relatively new to the hardware game."

Microsoft hardware has been developed since 1982, when the Microsoft Hardware division was formed to design a computer mouse for use with Microsoft Word for DOS. Since then, Microsoft has developed computer hardware, gaming hardware and mobile hardware. It also produced drivers and other software for integrating the hardware with Microsoft Windows.

1982, yup just started.


Posts: 3,836   +1,186
I've had a number of M$' wireless "Comfort Curve" keyboards. They're wonderful to type with, but the damned receivers crap out if you look at them sideways.
Take a look into the Sculpt Comfort, had it at work and then bought it at home. Amazing.


Posts: 560   +416
I've had a SP4 Pro since launch and for the first 12 months I had the whole gamut of issues - flickering screen, battery draining on sleep, keyboard/trackpad stopping working etc. Constant driver and firmware updates during the early months sorted some of these out but it was never quite right.

Eventually I got sick of it and phoned MS support to return it. I ended up talking to a proper tech guy who was really helpful. He gave me a refund id but begged me to try doing a full reset and re-install of Windows first - he said the driver updates just don't apply right unless you fully reset it. I figured I've nothing to lose so did this. Its been perfect ever since...