It’s so typical of my luck this year…

It’s only a couple of weeks ago since I wrote a piece in which I defended Bill Gates against all the toxicity that’s being directed at him and his charity work. I said at the time that I didn’t consider Microsoft one of those “bad” companies and I genuinely quite like Bill, from what I know of him.

Well, it’s now time to revise that verdict. About Microsoft, not Bill…

It wasn’t long after that post that the digitiser on my Surface Pro 7 died. It meant that I lost my drawing pad. Thankfully, I’ve moved to my big PC for most of my drawing, plus the pandemic means I don’t spend any time in coffee shops. However, I still use my Surface when I don’t want to be sitting here at my desk all day. I usually use it to begin all my drawings, jot down ideas, do a little writing from bed…

But now it was gone after just eight months of use. It was particularly annoying because I’d sworn to myself that I’d never buy another Surface Pro after my experience with my Surface Pro 5. That model had faulty batteries, which meant that after about fourteen months of use, it didn’t hold much of a charge, probably less than an hour. Totally unusable as a portable device (and it did cause me to lose earnings at one point). It was also just outside the one-year warranty, so I felt royally screwed by a company to whom I’d always been (stupidly) loyal.

Yet I thought maybe I was just unlucky. I did love the Surface range so, last Christmas, I scrimped and saved and, really, I mean absolutely struggled to afford it and still went into debt to get one. That’s the one whose digitiser died a couple of weeks ago.

I wrote at the time about the hellish time I had with Indian technical support but how I eventually managed to get them to send me a label so I could return it.

The replacement arrived at 6pm tonight.  I had it open by 6.01.

By 6.02, it had already crashed to a Blue Screen of Death.

I mean: it quite literally crashed when it was asking me to enter my name.

My jaw hit the floor. I’ve been around tech since I was 13 years old. I’ve work in IT support, I’ve been a programmer, I used to build PCs before it became as easy it is today. Yet I have never seen a “new” bit of hardware crash this badly, that quickly…

Yet I’m stubborn. I persevered, thinking it was probably a software issue. I struggled all night to get updates installed (despite repeated crashes). I even did a full system restore and it still crashed. I double checked the video card drivers since I noticed the screen kept doing this weird horizontal dance.

Then it crashed some more.

Nothing I did was any good and pretty soon I’d wasted a whole fucking evening on this piece of crap…

Sorry.

But it’s not like I haven’t got other things I’d rather be doing…

It’s fairly obvious that they sent me a refurbished model, aka a model that some other poor soul realised was broken and had returned. And clearly, whatever system Microsoft has in place to deal with faulty units doesn’t do such a good job checking to see if units are faulty. They probably run a minimal set of diagnostics and, if it passes, they’ll just erase it, install the OS, give the screen a wipe down, and send it to some poor schmuck like myself who will then discover the fault they couldn’t be arsed finding themselves.

Having read around about this online, this seems to be the standard operating procedure and users are expected to go through a number of refurbs until they find one that works. Sounds awful but it could even be acceptable, except the original guarantee is always ticking down until we’re no longer covered. It’s absolutely shocking.

I guess I have no choice but join in the game – another two weeks of waiting, meaning I’ll have then lost a whole month on my 12 month warranty – but Microsoft can now count me out of being a loyal Microsoft user. I really wish I was more of an influencer than I am – though I’ve probably sold a few units over my years as a Surface artist – but, as it is, let me set this little space of the Web aside for the wary traveller.

DO NOT BUY A MICROSOFT SURFACE PRO.

I’VE NOW OWNED FOUR AND ONLY ONE WAS EVEN BARELY RELIABLE.

SUPPORT IS AWFUL UNLESS YOU ENJOY SPENDING HOURS TALKING TO AN INDIAN CALL CENTRE.

YOU WILL GET A REPLACEMENT UNIT BUT IT IS A LOTTERY IF YOU GET A FUNCTIONING UNIT.

I wish I could do more to warn people. I have certainly changed my opinion of Microsoft based on this experience. If I didn’t need MS Word for my work or prefer Windows to Linux, I’d ditch every one of my subscriptions. Regarding their hardware, though, I’m done.

Maybe… And I really hate even thinking this… Apple next time?

Perhaps not but I don’t intend there to be a next time. I don’t need a portable device at the moment and had I known that this year we’d have had a pandemic, I wouldn’t have bought this one last year.

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