Monday, 26 September 2016 11:46

Veteran Windows journo slams Microsoft over Surface Pro issues Featured

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Microsoft's tardiness and lack of communication in relation to battery issues affecting its Surface Pro PC/tablet hybrid has been slammed by well-known journalist Ed Bott who has been writing about the company for 25 years.

In a column titled "Shame on Microsoft for leaving Surface Pro customers in the dark", Bott wrote that Microsoft had not shown any appreciation of the users who had helped put its Surface business on a solid footing.

He wrote that after the Surface Pro 3 had been in the market for more than a year, users began noticing a steady drop in battery capacity.

In March 2016, the company's support lines began fielding calls about the issue, with complaints that batteries that should have held a charge for five or more hours were going dead in 20 or 30 minutes and refusing to charge fully.

"The timing of the issue was unfortunate, as many models that had been purchased in 2014 were no longer covered by the original one-year warranty," Bott wrote.

He said that Microsoft remained silent for months, offering only a standard response from a PR spokesman, followed by a "We're looking into it" response from a support engineer until the end of July.

"But the Microsoft executive in charge of the Surface division, Panos Panay, didn't say a word until the middle of August, when he confirmed via Twitter that a software patch would be arriving days later," Bott wrote.

This episode was a replay of an earlier issue with the Surface team when those who purchased the Surface Pro 4 in late 2015 experienced performance and reliability problems, but only got vague acknowledgements of the issues from Microsoft.

Bott, who has plenty of contacts inside the company, wrote: "The only people in Redmond I spoke to about the issues insisted that our conversations be off the record. Perhaps they were worried any criticism would reflect badly on Intel, whose Skylake processors were also blamed for problems with PCs from other vendors. But customers heard next to nothing."

He said added to this, there was a lot of poor communication over the issues around Windows 10 upgrades.

Bott said an army of lawyers and PR executives was probably afraid to respond in any other way to such issues and ended his column with these words: "Ultimately, breaking that culture of crisis management by fear takes leadership from the top. Satya, are you listening?"

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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