I Rescind My Recommendation of the Microsoft Surface Studio and Now Recommend You Do NOT Buy Them for Your Home or Business (Updated – See Below)
Over the past twelve to eighteen months, I’ve shared with some of you – including a recent comment on this blog – that Aaron and I had purchased several Microsoft Surface Studio computers. Up until a few days ago, we were absolutely in love with them. They were, hands down, the best individual machine we had ever purchased. Nothing else came close. They were a feat of function meeting art and productivity. Single-handedly, they were responsible for us making the decision that we were going to build the asset management firm on a Windows-based platform once we were settled in Newport Beach and had finally chosen a commercial lease as we scaled-up the enterprise, began hiring employees, etc.
I take my recommendations seriously. I respect your capital, and what it took for you to earn it. As a result, I am going to do something I don’t recall ever having to do in the nearly twenty years I’ve written publicly: I fully rescind my prior recommendation and now suggest that you avoid buying the Microsoft Surface Studio.
Here is the reason …
Last week, with no apparent cause and with no warning, one of the Microsoft Surface Studio machines sounded like someone threw a screw into a turbine. There was no CPU load – nothing running other than the base operating system – so this was not a software or processing-related issue. You could physically feel the hardware itself vibrating as if the interior parts had come undone.
We called the support line, provided them with the details, and they told us we needed to make a physical appointment with the Microsoft store next door in the South Coast Plaza mall in Costa Mesa, California. We did that. When the day of the appointment arrived, we had already wiped the personal data from the machine, put it back in its original box, and had it ready to haul over there.
We arrived for our appointment, computer in hand. The store representative pulled the serial number, asked us about the problem, then said that Microsoft had discontinued its in-store service program; that we never should have been told to bring the machine into them and that they were sorry the company had wasted our time. He said he needed to go find the repair number.
He kept trying.
At least two or three numbers had been disconnected and the internal Microsoft documentation was wrong.
After apologizing and getting other people involved, they finally found a working telephone number.
Finally, we were told we needed to take the computer with us, call the telephone number from our home or office, and that Microsoft would then send the repair specialist come out to our place in Newport Beach to physically repair the system on-site.
We hauled the box back into the car.
We did what they said. The computer safely back with us in Newport Beach, we called the phone number.
After getting through to the Microsoft Surface Studio support team, the representative said that Microsoft had discontinued its on-site service offerings for the machine and that they could send someone to physically pick it up.
“Okay, great, how do we get this fixed and what will it cost?”
Nope. Microsoft can’t fix the machine. They will charge us $899 for a refurbished machine, taking our original one. The refurbished machine might have the exact same problem. If it does, we would have to keep paying $899 to swap the machines out over and over again over what appears to be a cheap component issue.
We’ve tried everything down to tearing this thing down to the screws and tightening the internal parts, cleaning things out … on a good day, this is the best it gets most of the time (turn up your volume and you’re still not near what it sounds like in real life):
Sometimes, it’s much, much worse. Quite literally, we could hardly have a discussion face-to-face in the same room and telephone calls with clients would have been completely out of the question because they would have thought we were working on the floor of an industrial machine shop when it finally kicks up to its worst noise level. You have to yell over it.
Other people across the Internet have been reporting that their systems are experiencing this same failure, too. The thing goes along fine for six or twelve months then … boom. They wake up and the internal parts sound like they’ve broken. In all cases, I get the impression that Microsoft has been equally useless to other customers who previously loved their machines and wanted to get them fixed or replaced.
The bottom line: we’re bricking the system and are re-evaluating our options going forward. Again, we had planned on building everything around the Surface family of Microsoft products. In light of the experience we’ve had, neither Aaron nor I are comfortable doing that because we have zero confidence they’ll support us. I had even planned on buying several of the $9,000 Surface Hub 2S digital whiteboards for use once we had found our office space and opened to the public as it would make collaborating and, in client meetings, sharing data, much easier.
If you still want to buy a Microsoft Surface Studio, please do not do it because of my earlier praise for the machines. As we just discovered, the fans or some other internal component may fail on you at any time and Microsoft seemingly could not care less as their actions indicate they have no interest in supporting their hardware business. (I shouldn’t be surprised. Microsoft did this with its infamous XBOX red ring of death hardware failures but I thought new management had solved the issue. I couldn’t imagine they’d have the same lack of standards and support for machines catered to studios and businesses at 10x the price point and that are part of a larger, cohesive product line meant to draw you into their lucrative software-as-a-service ecosystem; an ecosystem I’m now not interested in joining. It’s so self-defeating. The amount they saved on a $20 fan part probably cost them exponentially more over the next few years from our firm alone as we scale up some of our hardware and software needs. I do not understand this kind of lack of foresight.)
Update I – Temporary Solution to My Work System Needs
Aaron and I picked up a HP Spectre x360 15.6″ 4K OLED Ultra HD notebook computer with an i7 Intel Processor and a 1 Terabyte SSD as a stop gap measure to use in conjunction with a Kennon-Green & Co. 27″ Retina iMac. It’s a beautiful machine. Even the box was well done. Here it is sitting on one of the desks before opening it:
Here is what they look like …
So far, it’s a little temperamental – the track pad, specifically, though it seems to have gotten better after several rounds of updates were run – but I’m really happy with it. The screen is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen on a notebook display. The colors are more saturated than my MacBook Pro, which is less than a year old. Absolutely gorgeous images, though. The Kennon-Green & Co. website, which we are developing and is not yet available to the public (but will be at some point at https://www.kennongreen.com) looks incredible on it.
Update II – Microsoft Has Reached Out To Me
Microsoft has reached out to me and offered to replace the system after learning about my experience. More updates will follow.