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  • Microsoft Closes Retail Stores

    Posted on June 26th, 2020 at 11:02 digitalmediaphile Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Microsoft has announced it is closing almost all of its retail Stores (and the few that won’t close won’t be selling products and will be turned into Microsoft Experience Centers).

    This is a devastating blow to existing Microsoft Surface users looking for decent support and it certainly won’t do much to help with sales of new Surface devices.

    One counterbalance to the poor online and phone support for Surface products was that if you were fortunate to live within traveling distance to a Microsoft Store, most consumers could get better results for hardware issues than using online support. And then there was the instant exchange, as opposed to sending in your broken device and waiting, sometimes up to two or more weeks for a replacement. And then getting a bad replacement. At the Stores, the replacement process was usually instant and customers could examine the replacement product (reject if needed), etc. For many with bulging batteries in Surface Book and SP4 devices, going to a MS Store was the only solution to avoid a $600 out of warranty charge (Microsoft cut off free replacements after 3 years from date of Purchase). The Store staff “got it”. The Apple Stores right next store to most of the MS Stores replaced batteries and devices all day long. And took care of swollen batteries in Macbook Pros.

    The closest store to me was one mile from the Massachusetts border. That Store had a robust small business sales and support business. When in the Store, I often saw pickups of multiple new Surface devices. And they handled software and hardware issues for these customers easily. There were actually smiles on the faces of those folks waiting for the techs to work on their devices. This speaks to the top level skills of these MS Store technicians.

    As Amy Babinchak stated in the Third Tier Facebook page “This is a sucky development. The Microsoft store was a valuable partner to my MSP. They hand delivered orders directly to clients, managed warranty and repair issues like pros I’ve never seen before. The existence of the store legitimatized the Surface line of products. This is a sad event “


  • MS offers free repair (during warranty period) for Surface Laptop 3 cracked screen

    Posted on May 8th, 2020 at 21:53 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    That’s mighty big of them.

    Per KB 4561768:

    We have investigated claims of screen cracking on Surface Laptop 3 and have determined that, in a very small percentage of cases, a hard foreign particle may cause a hairline fracture in the glass that may seem to appear unexpectedly or without visible cause.

    If you believe your Surface Laptop 3 is experiencing this issue, you are encouraged to contact our Microsoft Support to initiate a repair free of charge during the warranty period of the device.

    If you have previously paid Microsoft for a Surface Laptop 3 repair that you believe experienced this issue, please contact Microsoft Support to learn about reimbursement.

    Wonder what’ll happen to out-of-warranty Surface Laptop 3s?

    Thx @Shawn_Brink_MVP on Tenforums.

    More details from Mary Jo Foley on ZDNet.

  • The new Surfaces arrive

    Posted on May 6th, 2020 at 15:36 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Would you buy a used operating system from this man?

    Have to admit that his daughter’s “impromptu” appearance was well orchestrated.

    Seriously, Panay is a remarkable salesman and gifted presenter. He’s also in charge of Windows. And he’s peddling some really cheap hardware:

    Surface Go 2 starting at $399 (Pentium 4425Y, 4 GB RAM – see Patch Lady’s admonishment below – 64 GB, just barely run Windows 10 Home in S Mode, doesn’t include a keyboard)

    Surface Book 3 starting at $1599 (13.5-inch, Core i5, 8 GB, 256 GB, Win10 Home)

    Surface Headphones 2 $249

    Surface Earbuds $199

    Surface Dock 2 costs $140 less than the Go 2. For a dock.

    Of course, I wouldn’t buy a Surface product if MS paid me, but that’s just because I’ve seen the way they treat customers. Your results certainly will vary.

    We’ll have more on the products he’s pushing as the reviews come in.

  • Surface Laptop 3’s Spontaneous Cracked Screens?

    Posted on February 18th, 2020 at 08:57 digitalmediaphile Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    A growing number of customers on Microsoft’s Answers Forum and Reddit are complaining that their nearly new Surface Laptop 3’s have developed spontaneous cracks in the screen. It appears that these devices are all the non Alcantara variety and are Aluminum only. Customers are posting pictures like the one below showing the issue in Microsoft’s Answers Forum.

    cracked screen

    Customers state that they did not drop, bang, or mistreat these devices or expose them to extreme temperature swings. So far, Microsoft outsourced forum support has been treating these as individual physical damage claims. For those who spent the extra money on Microsoft Complete, there is better coverage, albeit there is a $49 cost and there are only two “incidents” covered and this counts as one. One customer contacted support and states: “ I am currently waiting to hear back from Microsoft after numerous complaints…. they are taking forever but I finally got someone to admit they were investigating reports of the same issue. They said they had no time frame for a resolution or reply

    Reports of this issue are growing. Here’s a partial list of complaint threads:

    One customer writes: “ Soon after using it I noticed that the hinge would make a creaking sound when I opened it and the bottom chassis would do so as well when I lifted it applying even the slightest pressure. In addition to hearing the chassis creak, you can feel it flex when it happens. 

    It appears that if you are afflicted with this issue and are able to get to an official Microsoft Store, you may be able to convince the Store Manager to waive charges, as Nightryder21 reports:

    Clearly, something is amiss here and the typical silence from Microsoft is deafening. Panos Panay, are you listening?

  • Patch Lady – once upon a reboot

    Posted on January 7th, 2020 at 17:00 Susan Bradley Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Once upon a time we were told that with Windows 10 you’d never be more than 2 patches away from fully patched.

    Just purchased two Surface Go units with Windows 10 Pro and so far I’m at least a dozen updates, four reboots and a feature release away from being fully patched.

    Well it’s not as bad as trying to fully patch a freshly built Windows 7…but still…  (sigh)

  • Patch Lady – Surface for small business

    Posted on December 19th, 2019 at 13:03 Susan Bradley Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    So the other day one of the Surface 3 LTE (cellular) devices that I purchased from AT&T a few years ago started to not boot.  You pressed the on button and the backlight on the screen blinked on…then off…then on… then off… then on… well you get the idea.  All of the “hold the power button plus the volume up/down” attempts did nothing.  So did draining the battery.  Bottom line we finally came up to the conclusion that “It’s dead Jim”.   Since I have two of these devices (I’m on my way down to a trip to visit friends this weekend and literally am typing this post from the OTHER remaining Surface 3 LTE I have and I still love this small size form factor),  so I started looking around for a replacement in the Surface Go line of products since it has a similar size and weight to what I have (1.1 pound).

    Given that we are in the “how can a small business deal with Microsoft” lately, I was pleasantly surprised to stumble on a very small business friendly way to lease a Surface device at a very reasonable price tag.  It’s called the “Liftforward” program.  Like “purchasing” a phone it allows you to lease it over time.  Given that these devices are soooooooo unfixable by mere mortals, it’s actually a reasonable way to get a travel device.   You can trade it in for a newer device at a time in the future.  You can pick your lease terms.

    Bottom line if you are a small business and are tempted to get yourself a travel device, this is a very advantageous way to do so.  I know I also look at the technology deals at Costco, review refurbished computers when purchasing technology.  What other ways do you look at to obtain your technology in a reasonable fashion?

  • Microsoft refuses to clarify policy on replacement Surface Pro 4’s

    Posted on December 6th, 2019 at 10:37 digitalmediaphile Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Microsoft’s uneven and unpredictable policy for replacing Surface Pro 4 tablets with hardware failures has created ill will and angry customers. There are multiple issues involved. First is “flickergate” which was acknowledged by Microsoft and where “free” refurb replacements are offered IF within three years of original purchase. The problem is that most people receive a SP4 replacement that exhibits the same issue OR becomes a victim of the second issue, typecovers that won’t work ever again. There are lots of stories about the horrific refurbs customers receive, but when the succumb to the same issue just hours after starting up a replacement refurb, it seems clear that Microsoft has quality issues . And some customers are in to their 5th or 6th replacement. This issue has not been acknowledged by Microsoft. But it seems pervasive. Woody has covered much of this a couple of times – see

    But now the situation includes a small number of SP4’s where a battery bulge has caused a lifted screen. Devices with this issue are supposedly eligible for a free replacement if within 3 years of original purchase.

    If Microsoft won’t replace a SP4 for free, the out of warranty replacement cost has jumped to $599 USD – see The problem is that some people receive SP4’s for the outlandish $599 price and some receive functioning SP 2017 (5th Generation). If you read through you can see some of the differing experiences.

    Microsoft refuses to clarify their replacement policy when asked outright.  An outsourced Support Agent posted some information that seemed to imply that if someone PAID for an exchange, they’d get a SP 2017 (5th gen)  replacement, and one can infer that the free replacements would be untested, unreliable SP4’s. As this post from November 20th has gone unanswered, it appears Microsoft does not want to commit pen to paper and publish a policy that is clear to all.  Why should it be a secret?

    Microsoft’s stock answer to “contact support” or “we evaluate each case individually” seems disingenuous, since two people with the identical issue can receive completely different treatment. Why are SP4’s still being sent out at all?

    In August of 2017, Consumer Reports estimated a two year breakage rate of 25%. Panos Panay immediately responded that this was untrue and that 98% of Surface Pro 4 customers were satisfied with their device – and what would the satisfaction percentage be today? If customers posting in the SP4 Microsoft Answers Community Forum were polled.. Unless Microsoft releases figures of units sold versus units returned for the SP4, we’ll never know for sure what the “breakage” is, but with the number of increasing daily posts for flickering, dead type covers, and now battery bulge lifted screens, and the uneven handling of exchange requests, it is clear that the problems are growing.

    It’s time for Microsoft to take the high road and publish their exchange policies for everyone to see.


  • Original Surface Books with Swollen Batteries, a Cautionary Story

    Posted on December 5th, 2019 at 14:28 digitalmediaphile Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Microsoft’s Answers “Community Forum” for Surface Book (original) seems to be receiving a growing number of posts from unhappy customers whose $3000 computers have become a risk for fire or explosion because of lifted screens due to swollen batteries. And the issue is discussed in other online communities. Some of the images posted of these devices are frightening and appear in some of the threads below.

    While Microsoft won’t comment (other than “contact support”) on these issues, it seems that they decided that if these were within 3 years of original purchase, they’d replace free of charge (which can depend on which agent handles your case). The catch is that more and more of these devices are now beyond the three year from original purchase time frame, and phone and online support won’t budge on this “policy”. And sadly, some customers can’t be convinced of the danger of continuing to use the device.

    I’m a Microsoft MVP and a Volunteer Moderator in the Microsoft Surface Community Forum and I cringe every time I see a new report. Almost daily. (And there have been a few MVP’s and friends who have had this horrendous experience.)

    We think that the official Microsoft Retail Stores (at least in the USA) have more latitude to replace devices beyond the three year date, at least if a customer is able to go there, and make some noise. A lot of noise. Below is a tale of woe from a respected former MVP that speaks for itself. Should Microsoft replace these beyond three years? As a MSFT stockholder and MVP and Surface owner, my answer is a resounding yes. I expect my laptops to last more than 3 years, do YOU?

    Dian’s tale:

    Microsoft Annoyance!
    by Dian Chapman
    Retired Microsoft MVP 1995 – 2015

    In March 2016, hubby bought me a Microsoft Surface book computer because he recently bought one for himself and really liked it. I quickly fell in love with it, too.

    While he was traveling to TX on business, he realized the screen was being pushed away from the computer. He took it to a Microsoft office in TX and they replaced it on the spot. The employee there said, “Oh wow, yeah, we don’t want THOSE out there!” They imaged his current PC to a new one over a few days and he returned home with a new Surface book. His was two years into using it. He was also VERY glad it didn’t explode or start a fire while flying to/from IL/TX.

    A year later (2019), I started to notice that now MY Surface book was expanding and I could no longer close it because the bottom of the screen was being pushed away from the computer.

    Fearing a fire/explosion myself, I called the Schaumburg, IL Microsoft Store and was told that my computer was past the three year ‘swollen battery warranty!’ I didn’t realize MS had a warranty for crappy computers!

    He told me I would have to pay $599 to replace it at this time! Other fellow MVPs told me that they DID get theirs replaced after the three years, so I grabbed my computer and travelled the 1.5 hrs to the Schaumburg MS Store to try to get a replacement.

    Lilly was the employee who greeted me and asked I was I doing today. HA, NOT good! After telling me that I needed an appointment, she relented and made a ticket for me and listened to my argument regarding why I NEEDED a replacement from this defective computer that was broken and dangerous…through NO fault of my own.

    After about 20 mins of me explaining that I was NOT leaving without a new computer and that I would stand outside the store (in the mall) and tell anyone who listened why MS computers were defective…she went back to “check” with her manager.

    She returned a bit later to tell me that she did have one in stock to replace mine and told me that it would take several days to copy my data to the new system. I didn’t have time to be without my computer that long and I also did not look forward to driving 1.5 hrs (one way) back into the city to get it in a few days. So, I said I’d just F-Disk it. I found the reset to erase all the data and she said they’d do it a second time JUST to be sure it was cleared.

    I left with the new computer.

    Several people have had this problem and it’s REALLY pathetic that MS makes people go through this crap to get a new computer. MS is pretty good with software, but as the MS phone demonstrated…they’re NOT very good when it comes to hardware! They need to admit this series of PC has a SERIOUS problem and fix it without a hassle for those suffering with these DEFECTIVE systems.

    Let’s hope none cause a home or plane fire!