A leaked internal memo revealed the return rates of Microsoft's Surface devices, which likely impacted the decision of Consumer Reports to withdraw its recommendation for the 128 GB and 512 GB models of the Surface Book and the 128 GB and 256 GB models of the Surface Laptop.

Citing "poor predicted reliability," Consumer Reports recently pulled out its recommendation for the Surface devices, a move that now has Microsoft scrambling to recover.

Microsoft Surface Device Return Rates Revealed

The return rates of five Microsoft Surface devices were leaked through an internal memo acquired by veteran Microsoft watcher Paul Thurrott, as uploaded on Thurrott.com. Consumer Reports found that 25 percent of Microsoft Surface device owners suffered problems within two years after purchase, and the chart from the leaked memo showed that there is indeed a reliability issue with the products.

In the chart, it can be seen that the worst offender for 90-day Microsoft Surface device return rates is the Surface Book, which reached a peak of 17 percent within its launch period and remained over 10 percent for six months. Surface Pro 4 return rates were at 16 percent at launch but dropped below 10 percent the following months.

The chart also revealed that the Surface Pro 3 and Surface 3 started with return rates over 10 percent upon their launch. The Surface Studio, meanwhile, only had a 2 percent return rate upon launch.

Microsoft Should Blame Itself For Consumer Reports Recommendation Withdrawal

Microsoft suffered major issues with the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4, and a previous report by Thurrott claimed that the company initially blamed Intel and its Skylake processors for the problems. However, according to Thurrott's sources, the real culprit is Microsoft itself.

The true issue lies with the Microsoft drivers that the company created for its Surface devices. The drivers are said to be the cause of the problems that Surface device users have experienced.

What Is Microsoft Planning To Do?

While Microsoft did not do a good job on the return rates upon the launch of Surface devices, particularly the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4, it can be seen in the chart that the company is doing much better now. The Surface Book still has the worst return rate among the devices, but now down to only over 4 percent. The Surface Pro 3 and Surface Pro 4 are at 3 percent, while the Surface 3 and Surface Studio are at below 1 percent.

Microsoft believes that it has fixed the issues that caused Consumer Reports to withdraw its recommendation, and the memo reveals that the company will soon propagate data on the strong quality and positive customer experience for Surface devices. However, Consumer Reports might not update its stance on Surface devices until next year, a blow for Microsoft as a significant number of customers trust Consumer Reports' recommendations.

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