Internal memo claims Microsoft may have turned the corner on Surface Pro 4, Surface Book customer dissatisfaction

Microsoft may be readying a more concerted comeback against Consumer Reports' latest Surface PC findings, according to a new leaked Microsoft memo.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft's attempt to blunt the impact of a recent negative Consumer Reports rating for its Surface line of tablets and PCs may just be beginning.

Credit: Thurrott.com

An internal Microsoft memo viewed by Paul Thurrott at Thurrott.com indicates that Microsoft is planning to continue to try to undo some of the damage from the recent Consumer Reports findings, which claimed customers were unsatisfied with their Surface purchases.

The chart embedded in this post above from Thurrott was included in the memo authored by devices chief Panos Panay, according to Thurrott.

The chart indicates that return rates for the original Surface Book and Surface Pro were quite high when those devices debuted in late 2015. But, over time, according to the chart, these return rates dropped noticeably. At their worst, right after they began shipping, the Surface Book hit a 17-percent return rate in late 2015, and the Surface Pro 4, a 16-percent rate, the figures in the chart show.

Panay and team plan to work with partner organizations, marketing, retail, and sales to spread the word that Microsoft's worst problems with the Surface are behind it, according to the memo.

Consumer Reports pulled its "recommended" rating for the Surface Laptop last week, even though the data it gathered by surveying 90,000 users didn't include the Surface Laptop, as it was released in the summer 2017. (Consumer Reports' data covered PCs that were released between 2014 and first quarter of 2017, which was prior to the date when Surface Laptops began shipping.)

Some unknown number of Surface users have encountered a variety of power problems, tablet-undocking, battery-life limitations, and other issues with their devices since Microsoft began shipping the first Surface RT tablets in 2012. Some Surface users feel Microsoft has been slow to publicly acknowledge these issues and not clear enough about plans to remedy them. Microsoft's continued resistance to quantifying how many Surface users have been affected by these various issues has further muddied the waters.

Just last month, Microsoft had to issue a fix for its latest Surface Pro devices due to a hibernation issue.

Panay issued his first salvo in its dispute over Consumer Reports' findings late last week, disputing that 25 percent of all Surface devices would fail after two years.

I've asked Microsoft for comment on the leaked memo. A spokesperson said the company had no comment.


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