Microsoft Surface devices fail on reliability, tending to freeze and shutdown

The failure rate for Microsoft’s Surface devices is significantly worse than for other manufacturers’ laptops and tablets, according to the product rating organisation Consumer Reports.

The non-profit publication surveyed 90,000 tablet and laptop owners and found that an estimated 25% with Surface devices would be presented with “problems by the end of the second year of ownership,” according to a study published today.

“If you are very concerned about how long your products are going to last, it might be better for you to go with a brand that has a higher predicted reliability,” said Jerry Beilinson, electronics editor at the consumer goods testing publication.

Consumer Reports said it was removing its “recommended” designation for Surface products.

Report disputed

Microsoft disputed the study, saying the company’s return and support rates differ significantly from the Consumer Reports study.

“We don’t believe these findings accurately reflect Surface owners’ true experiences or capture the performance and reliability improvements made with every Surface generation,” the company said in a statement.

According to the Consumer Reports survey responses, the Microsoft devices were found to freeze, unexpectedly shut down or have issues with their touchscreens, Beilinson said.

Apple most reliable

Altogether, the reliability issues made Microsoft a statistical outlier compared with other brands. Apple had the most reliable devices, Beilinson said.

Microsoft entered the hardware market with its first Surface tablet in 2012. Since then, the company has released a series of new Surface tablets and laptops, including the well-reviewed Surface Pro, which launched in May.

“The reality is that Microsoft has very little experience in some of the newer categories it’s entering very rapidly, which may expose it to more risk of problems in manufacturing,” said Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research.