The non-profit publication surveyed 90,000 tablet and laptop owners and found that an estimated 25 percent of those with Microsoft Surface devices would be presented with "problems by the end of the second year of ownership", according to a study published on Thursday. Common problems cited include freezing, unexpected shutdowns, and issues with the touchscreen, among others.
But as Consumer Reports notes, the reliability of Apple's laptop and tablet products are consistently the most highly rated by its readers. In a statement emailed to USA TODAY, Microsoft said, "Surface is designed and built with performance and reliability in mind". The consumer group says that poor predicted reliability for the Surface range means that it is pulling its "recommended" tag.
As a result, Consumer Reports added that it couldn't now recommend any other Microsoft laptops or tablets, including the latest Surface Pro model that was introduced in June. Those products, along with the rest of the Surface lineup, were supposed to help Microsoft eat away at the laptop and tablet market share (both revenue- and shipment-wise), which is now dominated by Apple. Its decision applies to models with detachable keyboards as well as those with more traditional clamshell designs. "We are committed to ensuring the premium Surface experience for all of our customers across the entire family of devices". Considering that Microsoft is making a big push into this space, a downgraded rating from Consumer Reports is likely going to impact sales. That prediction is based on surveying the company's own subscribers who own current Microsoft hardware, and collating details on any issues they might have encountered.
The testing process involves those individuals living with the products for several weeks, putting them through a string of tests using scientific measurements, as well as subjective tests that mimic the user experience. In more recent years, the organization has added laptops and tablets. "Microsoft's real-world return and support rates for past models differ significantly from Consumer Reports' breakage predictability", a spokesperson said.