Leaked Microsoft memo reveals high Surface Book return rates

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With the recommendation of the Microsoft Surface devices withdrawn by Consumer Reports, should owners of the affected laptops and tablets start thinking about replacing them? "And people can improve their chances of getting a more dependable device by considering our brand reliability findings". In a statement, Microsoft said, "Surface is designed and built with performance and reliability in mind".

The company's problems with its drivers is also said to be the cause of delays in Microsoft's more ambitious devices and also why USB-C and Thunderbolt ports have not yet been adopted in its Surface devices. "The differences were statistically significant, which is why Microsoft doesn't meet CR's standards for recommended products".

Consumer Reports said that responses to its annual survey revealed that consumers weren't pleased with their Microsoft products during the lifetime of ownership.

Consumer Reports' lab testing measures how well a laptop or tablet performs for a range of factors, including display quality, battery life, speed, and ergonomics.

Consumer Reports has removed its coveted "recommendation" designation for four Microsoft Surface laptops it had previously blessed with such status.

The new studies of laptop and tablet reliability leverage data on 90,741 tablets and laptops that subscribers bought new between 2014 and the beginning of 2017. Common complaints about the Surface devices include sudden shutdown and freezing, unresponsive touchscreens and boot issues.

"We stand behind Surface" is the title of the blogpost issued by Panos Panay, Microsoft's vice president of devices.

"While we respect Consumer Reports, we disagree with their findings", a Microsoft spokesperson told CNBC. "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".

The revelation of internal software incompetence caused Microsoft to cancel or delay more ambitious products a year ago, resulting in the current boring generation of slightly upgraded Surface Pro (tellingly without the driver-nightmare USB-C/Thunderbolt ports) and the even more boring Surface Laptop. The study was conducted between January and June 2017 in the U.S., the UK, Germany, Australia, France, China and Japan.

This is not the first time the Surface family of products has come under scrutiny for performance and reliability.

Millions of consumers around the world turn to Consumer Reports to know how products perform. While Panay acknowledges that there were quality issues that plagued the company at "the launch of Surface Book and Surface Pro 4", he went on to state that the company takes quality seriously.

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