NEW YORK— Consumer Reports has removed its coveted “recommendation” designation for four Microsoft Surface laptops it had previously blessed with such status.
At issue, the publication says, is the “predicted reliability” of the Microsoft machines compared to most other brands, which Consumer Reports said was worse by a "statistically significant margin."
Consumer Reports based its decision on the results of an annual subscriber survey about the products such people own and use.
It estimates Microsoft’s laptops and tablets will experience breakage rates of 25% within two years of ownership, loosely defined as any issue that comes up that prevents the computer from working as the owner expects.
As a result, Consumer Reports added that it couldn’t currently recommend any other Microsoft laptops or tablets, including the latest Surface Pro model that was introduced in June.
Consumer Reports pulled recommendations for the Surface Laptop (128GB and 256GB versions) and Surface Book (128GB and 512GB versions). Its decision applies to models with detachable keyboards as well as those with more traditional clamshell designs.
Microsoft took issue with the results. In a statement emailed to USA TODAY, Microsoft said, “Surface is designed and built with performance and reliability in mind. We extensively test hardware and software to ensure that customers can be confident in their Surface devices.
"Every generation of Surface surpasses its predecessors in performance and in reliability. Surface return and support rates are in line if not lower than industry average for devices in the same class. We are committed to ensuring the premium Surface experience for all of our customers across the entire family of devices.”
Consumer Reports is not specifically fingering the Windows 10 software that runs the Surface machines (and obviously numerous other laptops), but rather issues with the laptops themselves. It says a number of survey respondents complained about startup problems.
Others reported machines that froze or shut down unexpectedly, or that had touch screens that weren’t responsive enough. But Consumer Reports did not collect the data to determine the frequency with which each type of problem occurred.