Yesterday, Consumer Reports (CR) stepped in and repealed the recommended rating that it had given the Microsoft Surface line of laptops and tablets. CR says that the ratings were pulled after it received tens of thousands of responses from its subscribers about poor reliability of the Surface devices. As a result of the complaints CR has now stated that Microsoft's Surface products are "significantly less reliable than most other brands".
Microsoft isn't having any of that and has come back with a post from Surface chief Panos Panay, who is standing behind the same products that CR has found to be unreliable.
Panay writes, "While we respect Consumer Reports, we disagree with their findings. Surface has had quite a journey over the last few years, and we’ve learned a lot. In the Surface team we track quality constantly, using metrics that include failure and return rates – both our predicted 1-2-year failure and actual return rates for Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book 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 goes on to note that in its own polls, customer satisfaction for the Surface devices is very high. In fact, 98% of Surface Pro 4 users and Surface Book users are satisfied with their devices according to Microsoft surveys.
Panay wrote, "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."
Here's the rub for consumers who wanted a Surface device and are now on the fence in the wake of CR's decision to pull recommend ratings. Anyone who has worked in an IT environment where they are responsible for addressing issues end-users have with technology can tell you that many of the complaints about broken or malfunctioning equipment or other issues with computer system reliability come down to the end user not knowing how to operate the equipment or installing software themselves that makes the computer unstable. At the same time, when CR gets tens of thousands of complaints about the machine, it's hard to claim that many people don't know what they are doing or decided to install malware laden software.
Microsoft's own customer satisfaction surveys were conducted in January through June of 2017 and focused on consumers in the US, UK, Germany, France, China, Japan, and Australia. They were conducted by IPSOS, but were commissioned by Microsoft. CR has pulled recommended ratings in the past from other products only to reinstate them at a later date. This happened to Apple last year when recommended ratings were withdrawn after allegations of fluctuating battery life were made.