Leaked Microsoft memo says Consumer Reports is wrong

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,393   +553
Staff member

A negative review from Consumer Reports can be damning for a product. The non-profit has long been a reliable source when trying to determine the value of goods. Millions of people give the opinions of Consumer Reports high regard when making purchasing decisions.

Ever since the watchdog group recently withdrew its recommendation for the Surface line of tablets and laptops due to poor reliability, Microsoft has been in damage control mode. The tech giant insisted in an email to CR that it believes the data they used was not accurate. It claims that the real-world return rates for the devices are considerably different from the ones that Consumer Reports published.

Tech blogger Paul Thurrott allegedly uncovered an internal company memo written by Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Devices Panos Panay. In it, Panay vowed that the company would work with Consumer Reports to learn from its data, improve customer satisfaction, and get them to “reverse their findings.”

“Feedback like this stings, but pushes us to obsess more about our customers,” said the Surface VP.

The memo admits that there were significant problems with the release of the Surface Book and others in the line and that the return rates early on were quite high (above 10 percent). However, a graph included in the document showed that return rates have been declining on the entire Surface family since the company began addressing the issues. Currently, only about one to five percent of the devices are returned.

Panay suggested that Consumer Reports survey sample may have a disproportionate number of early Surface users who are still angry over their purchases. He also put forward that perhaps CR’s definition of “failure” was too broad and included things like the occasional “frozen screen or unresponsive touch [pad]” as failures. Microsoft considers these things “minor incidents that are easily rectified by the user.”

Thurrott points out that when Surface returns were at a high, Microsoft blamed Intel for the problems. It claimed that the Skylake chipsets were causing the failures. As a result, Microsoft switched to ARM processors. However, one of Thurrott’s sources told him that the blaming of Intel was just a cover story for the fact that Windows developers had botched drivers and settings that were custom-made for Surface devices.

Now, two years later, the company is facing the consequences of a stinging Consumer Reports rating. All the company can do is try to convince the advocacy organization to change its mind. It would not be the first time CR has reevaluated a product and changed its recommendation.

Late last year Apple failed to get a Consumer Reports recommendation for the new MacBook Pros thanks to inconsistent and shortened battery life. Apple investigated the problem and discovered that a bug in Safari was causing the battery life issue. Developers fixed the problem, and Consumer Reports agreed to re-test the MacBook Pro. After a second look, CR did indeed change its mind and gave the laptops its recommendation.

Microsoft has an opportunity to redeem the reputation of the Surface line, but just telling Consumer Reports that it is wrong is not likely to get them to reconsider. Redmond will have to prove that it has rectified the problems with its products before the consumer group is likely to revisit its recommendation.

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Kenrick

Posts: 631   +401
He also put forward that perhaps CR’s definition of “failure” was too broad and included things like the occasional “frozen screen or unresponsive touch [pad]” as failures. Microsoft considers these things “minor incidents that are easily rectified by the user.”

This statement just summarized what kind MS quality will you get. Frozen screen and unresponsive touch pad is annoying and irritating. Minor but will definitely make you wish you did not buy this product.
 
Consumer Reports is a deceitful organization. They claim to be impartial, but they routinely go after high profile brands and claim their products suck. In court documents, when they went after the now departed Sharper Image, they admitted to rigging the tests to produce the desired outcome. Since there was no risk (Sharper Image sued, looking like a sore loser), they even doubled down and claimed the product they previously reviewed as "ineffective" was now "deadly." Remember, they are only in business to get you to buy their magazines, so going after high profile brands is a good way to boost visibility, and get media coverage like this.
 
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Darth Shiv

Posts: 2,043   +624
Consumer Reports is a deceitful organization. They claim to be impartial, but they routinely go after high profile brands and claim their products suck. In court documents, when they went after the now departed Sharper Image, they admitted to rigging the tests to produce the desired outcome. Since there was no risk (Sharper Image sued, looking like a sore loser), they even doubled down and claimed the product they previously reviewed as "ineffective" was now "deadly." Remember, they are only in business to get you to buy their magazines, so going after high profile brands is a good way to boost visibility, and get media coverage like this.
And on this case? Looks pretty legit here. Microsoft is trying to redefine what is OK for end users.
 
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p51d007

Posts: 2,419   +1,687
CR touts itself as an "independent" testing organization but, run by idealist leftist types. If they don't like you, they can easily skew the results.
CR is in business to make money. They do that via their magazine, website subscriptions and the "stamp of approval". What better way to get more buzz generated, than do a hit on a company that millions of computer users already have a dislike for.
 
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Uncle Al

Posts: 7,086   +5,446
All you have to do is follow the money. Who has the most to loose, Microsoft or CR? To say that CR has ANY political stance simply shows a lack of knowledge about the organization or their processes. Like NPR, NPT and similar organizations CR has a long standing reputation for reporting the facts and nothing more.
 

Kibaruk

Posts: 3,836   +1,183
This statement just summarized what kind MS quality will you get. Frozen screen and unresponsive touch pad is annoying and irritating. Minor but will definitely make you wish you did not buy this product.
It's minor as long as it's fixable, this is, so it should not be an issue anymore. Sure, you will get it once, but never again, this is not something to hover over on.

I do like them, I got one at work and it's nothing but useful, except when I started using it... it surely had its quirks, it may have been also that it was one of the earliest SP4, but still, if you are not tech-savvy it's easy to want to throw it away when you start using it. I recommended it in the beginning and the one that got it quickly switched to another computer.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 33   +13
Consumer Reports is a deceitful organization. They claim to be impartial, but they routinely go after high profile brands and claim their products suck. In court documents, when they went after the now departed Sharper Image, they admitted to rigging the tests to produce the desired outcome. Since there was no risk (Sharper Image sued, looking like a sore loser), they even doubled down and claimed the product they previously reviewed as "ineffective" was now "deadly." Remember, they are only in business to get you to buy their magazines, so going after high profile brands is a good way to boost visibility, and get media coverage like this.
You know, I've tried up and down to find an article of any kind that verifies your claim but I can't find one. Can you provide a link to where it says that Consumer Reports admitted that their Sharper Image testing was rigged? I'm VERY good at finding things on the net and this shouldn't be hard to find but all I can find is the Sharper Image LOSING a court battle with Consumer Reports. There's something deceitful here alright, but it's not Consumer Reports.
 
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Avro Arrow

Posts: 33   +13
All you have to do is follow the money. Who has the most to loose, Microsoft or CR? To say that CR has ANY political stance simply shows a lack of knowledge about the organization or their processes. Like NPR, NPT and similar organizations CR has a long standing reputation for reporting the facts and nothing more.
You're not wrong. It was they who first said that Japanese cars were superior to American cars. They accept advertising from nobody so they don't have to worry about advertising revenues. I'm very thankful to have had access to what they know.
 
You know, I've tried up and down to find an article of any kind that verifies your claim but I can't find one. Can you provide a link to where it says that Consumer Reports admitted that their Sharper Image testing was rigged? I'm VERY good at finding things on the net and this shouldn't be hard to find but all I can find is the Sharper Image LOSING a court battle with Consumer Reports. There's something deceitful here alright, but it's not Consumer Reports.
Sadly, this all came out in the discovery phase of the libel suit. It was not covered by the media, except to report that the suit was filed, and ultimately dismissed.
 
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ikesmasher

Posts: 3,051   +1,373
He also put forward that perhaps CR’s definition of “failure” was too broad and included things like the occasional “frozen screen or unresponsive touch [pad]” as failures. Microsoft considers these things “minor incidents that are easily rectified by the user.”

This statement just summarized what kind MS quality will you get. Frozen screen and unresponsive touch pad is annoying and irritating. Minor but will definitely make you wish you did not buy this product.
exactly. Oh we dont consider the 2 hours of troubleshooting you had to do to get your touch screen working accurately a failure, the literal warping your device was experienceing a failure, and the 50 driver issues you had to fix a failure.

Microsoft is trying to copy certain aspects of apple products without a fundamental understanding of why apple is successful.
 
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