Consumer Reports, the nonprofit organization that tests and rates a host of products across multiple categories, has officially removed its "recommended" designation from four Microsoft laptops, the organization announced via a press release on Thursday.
The 128GB and 256GB versions of the Surface Laptop and the 128GB and 512GB versions of the Surface Book are losing their recommended status due to poor predicted reliability relative to their competitors, the release said. "Microsoft is relatively new to the hardware business, and this is the first year we've had enough data to estimate predicted reliability for the company's laptops," the release said.
However, the move by Consumer Report affects more than just those four devices. According to the release, Consumer Reports "cannot recommend any other Microsoft laptops or tablets" because of the same predicted reliability issues.
Reliability was determined by a survey of Consumer Reports subscribers and other recent studies, the release said. From that data, the organization estimated that 25% of Microsoft laptops and tablets will encounter some problem within two years of ownership.
While other brands also may have experienced reliability issues to some degree, the difference in how unreliable the Microsoft devices were was "statistically significant," the release said. Because of this, Consumer Reports cannot recommend the devices.
The problems experienced by users included issues at startup, freezing, and random shut downs, the release said. Some users also told Consumer Reports that their touchscreens were not responsive enough.
In lab tests, though, many Surface products performed well. "Based purely on lab performance, the Surface Pro is highly rated when used either as a tablet or with a keyboard attached," the release said.
Still, the predicted reliability statistics, which are built on the survey responses, are important to users, the release said, and are a major factor in buying decisions.
Microsoft's data differed from that of the Consumer Reports survey.
"Microsoft's real-world return and support rates for past models differ significantly from Consumer Reports' breakage predictability," Microsoft said in an emailed statement to Consumer Reports. "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 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- Consumer Reports has removed its "recommended" status for the 128GB and 256GB versions of the Surface Laptop and the 128GB and 512GB versions of the Surface Book.
- Consumer Reports also said that it "cannot recommend any other Microsoft laptops or tablets" due to reliability issues.
- However, lab tests performed by Consumer Reports seemed to show the Surface products performing well in many categories.
- Microsoft Surface Laptop: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
- Inside Microsoft's Surface Laptop and Surface Pro (ZDNet)
- Microsoft Surface Book: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
- Surface Pro: The evolution of Microsoft's hybrid tablet PC (ZDNet)
- The Microsoft Suite Pro User Bundle (TechRepublic Academy)
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.