back to article Microsoft's new Surface laptop defeats teardown – with glue

It appears as if Microsoft has been following the Apple playbook in creating another laptop whose components you can never replace. DIY site iFixIt tried to take apart the new Microsoft Surface laptop – an ultra-thin and light unit which starts at £979 – and seemingly couldn’t do it without completely and utterly destroying it …

DJV
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Facepalm

That's Surface crossed off my Christmas list, then!

Well, it would have been crossed off had I been stupid enough to put it on there in the first place. I'll stick with upgradeable PCs and a cheap lappy when I need to be portable, thank you very much!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: That's Surface crossed off my Christmas list, then!

It was on it before? Who even wants a tablet that has none of the advantages of a tablet, and all the cesspool malware problems of a full Windows device?

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Re: That's Surface crossed off my Christmas list, then!

The MS Surface Laptop isn't a tablet, it's a laptop. The clue is in the name.

It has a 3:2 screen, so other than Apple MacBooks (16:10) it's about your only choice if you don't get on well with 16:9 displays.

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Re: That's Surface crossed off my Christmas list, then!

Gosh, microsoft in take aim, shoot foot shocker. Again. Who'd have thought it?

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Pint

Re: That's Surface crossed off my Christmas list, then!

AC pointed to "...the cesspool malware problems of a full Windows device?"

One of the surprising and unexpectedly-wonderful things about my Surface 2 (with silly Win RT) is how rare are the updates !! It's amazing and wonderful to pick-up a gadget that's been sitting there for several days to find it's still happy and requires no updates.

Unbothered Use to Maintenance Ratio is crazy high.

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Re: That's Surface crossed off my Christmas list, then!

Right - there's no denying its nice in your off time to use devices which don't require an IT department to properly maintain. Its just there was no hope for RT to be successful. The chromebook does get monthly or so updates but the worst you'll see is a 5 second boot up, when it would have been instantaneous from standby.

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Re: That's Surface crossed off my Christmas list, then!

But then there is pretty much j**ks**t that you can actually do with a Chromebook, beside watching movies and checking Facebook and other (anti)Social media sites...

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Joke

Re: That's Surface crossed off my Christmas list, then!

"Who'd have thought it?"

About as many people as would have expected such a post from you, I'd wager!

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Re: That's Surface crossed off my Christmas list, then!

> ...sitting there for several days to find it's still happy and requires no updates

Just because no updates have been made available doesn't mean that none are required.

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Re: That's Surface crossed off my Christmas list, then!

I must be dreaming about doing development work on my Toshiba Chromebook then ... hint: check out Crouton

... and when you open your mouth again, don't forget to change feet.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: That's Surface crossed off my Christmas list, then!

So its an overpriced Chromebook then!? Without the security

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Re: That's Surface crossed off my Christmas list, then!

When stickytape and glue are the main underpinnings of a piece of pricey technology it's time to question do you really want it in your life.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: That's Surface crossed off my Christmas list, then!

It's amazing and wonderful to pick-up a gadget that's been sitting there for several days to find it's still happy and requires no updates.

I hate to tell you this, but that was the exact reason I moved to the Apple camp. I just had an OS upgrade, but that is a rather infrequent event, ditto for the iPad.

I suspect that such a move isn't for everyone, but for my business it worked.

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Anonymous Coward

Apple's Playbook?

This is worse than Apple. At least with the right tools, you can open them up. Even the latest iMac can be opened.

It is not just MS that is going this way. Samsung have done it with the S8. Replacing a screen is according to iFixit, a real PITA.

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Re: Apple's Playbook?

Riiight ... Have you seen the iMac instructions? Use the tool to separate the screen from the body and 'take extra care not to cut through the cabling attaching the camera to the screen'. Basically "use a knife to cut round the computer and OOPS don't cut that far!"

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Re: Apple's Playbook?

"Having a bit of a silly moment here - did anyone see the exclamation mark as the letter "t" ???"

I did. My first thought was "If you can cut your fart, you are doing it wrong"

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Re: Apple's Playbook?

Chuck Norris can cut farts with a roundhouse kick...

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Anonymous Coward

Does Microsoft offer an exchange program too?

Given that Apple gives you quite a good rebate if you return older kit that is still working it seems that the disassembling issue becomes a bit of an own goal. Does Microsoft offer good money back for old hardware as well?

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Re: Does Microsoft offer an exchange program too?

Given that Apple gives you quite a good rebate if you return older kit that is still working ...

How about they build something that doesn't HAVE to be thrown away if the battery or a component assembly becomes faulty? I must be the least environmentally enlightened person on this planet, and still this built in obsolescence sticks in my throat.

If Apple, Microsoft, Samsung don't have designers capable of building a repairable device, then they need to get people more competent in.

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Re: Does Microsoft offer an exchange program too?

Return older kit to Apple?

How about put an SSD into my wife's plastic unibody Core Duo MacBook, install Linux Mint Mate, and never look back...

Is that recycled enough for you?

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Re: Does Microsoft offer an exchange program too?

Why would you throw it away instead of taking it back to the shop?

Apple et all aren't incentivised in any way to make a user-repairable device, but they are incentivised to make a more easily recyclable device (by statute in the EU and some US states). Whilst Reg readers prefer screws to glue, recycling is easier if you can just dissemble products in an oven before separating the nasties in the screen and motherboard (bulkier plastic and metal parts are separated from each other after shredding, but it's the rare or dangerous stuff in the screen and motherboard that causes worry). That's just the way it is - feel free to read up on it, if only out of courtesy to professionals in a discipline other than yours.

The repairability of a laptop has to be weighed up against its reliability in the first place, how long it will be actively used, how likely someone will be to actually repair it instead of just taking back to the shop under warranty, how easy it is to recycle etc. The only time a user has to repair a laptop is if it fails after the 3 year warranty period but before it so outdated as to be no longer useful - this becomes such a small factor that recyclability, reliability and useful function are given priority.

If you want to save the planet, the best laptop to buy is one from the most reliable manufacturers - you can Google who that is (judged by a range of metrics) for yourselves - and to use it for a long time.

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Re: Does Microsoft offer an exchange program too?

It's not the fault of designers, but the Beancounters.

Beancounters should ONLY be employed to count and report. Ultimately if they are in charge of decisions they destroy the company. That's what killed most of the UK companies successful in the 1950s.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Does Microsoft offer an exchange program too?

How about they build something that doesn't HAVE to be thrown away if the battery or a component assembly becomes faulty? I must be the least environmentally enlightened person on this planet, and still this built in obsolescence sticks in my throat.

Why does it have to be obsolete? I replaced my perfectly working Macbook with one that was a LOT faster and had a better screen. From what I gathered by an Apple retailer, the working ones are cleaned up and resold so it's not quite landfill yet. You also forget that disposing of these devices lands Apple with quite an environmental obligation, and Apple happens to be the one company that actually started to report on that (as they do with manufacturing). They get thus negative press for being the only company that bothers to do what others should be made to do as well.

As for repairs, in my experience kit rarely fails after it has been working for 3 months. That said, I take care of my kit so I rarely have need for a glass/LCD/keyboard replacement, but I know THAT is still possible.

And still, no answer to a genuine question: does Microsoft offer a route to part exchange old devices (I'm assuming here generously that the hardware lasts that long)?

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Re: Does Microsoft offer an exchange program too?

"The only time a user has to repair a laptop is if it fails after the 3 year warranty period but before it so outdated as to be no longer useful..."

Well, two points there.

(1) I've never seen a laptop with a three-year warranty (according to the MS site, the Surface Laptop comes with a one-year warranty and a whole 90 days of technical support), and

(2) Now that Moore's Law has stalled, a laptop can easily be useful many years after the first three (and certainly past the first year), although this one's lack of upgradeability limits that future usefulness too.

SSDs in particular don't last forever (not even mentioning the battery!), and they're definitely a consumable part with a known and finite service life. I have a SSD in the PC I am using now that would be close to end of life (by TBW) if it were some of the ones I've seen in reviews and not a Samsung 840 Pro with better-than-average endurance. While most people probably won't wear out a SSD, it's still not something that ought to be part of the motherboard.

My laptop was manufactured in late 2008, approaching nine years ago, and it's still my go-to when I am out and about, despite its age. While it was decently responsive in stock form even by modern standards, it's even better now with a few upgrades, and that's something that won't work with the Surface Laptop.

I expect something costing a thousand dollars or more to last until it is obsolete, which could easily be ten years or more these days, and that includes these kinds of simple upgrades that not long ago were pretty much universally available.

Disposable items are supposed to be cheap, but this one isn't. It's a premium-priced throwaway laptop.

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Re: Does Microsoft offer an exchange program too?

"The only time a user has to repair a laptop is if it fails after the 3 year warranty period but before it so outdated as to be no longer useful"

Never mind repair - what about replacing a battery?

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Re: Does Microsoft offer an exchange program too?

Updraft102 writes: "I've never seen a laptop with a three-year warranty"

Any number of good, professional grade laptops come with a three-year warranty out of the box. Nearly any laptop can be upgraded to a three-year warranty for around $80-$100. You can also get accidental damage insurance on all of them.

Most manufacturers provide technical support for the duration of your warranty. That Micrsoft is selling $1000-$3000 laptops with only 90 days of tech support is telling.

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Re: Does Microsoft offer an exchange program too?

> I've never seen a laptop with a three-year warranty

If you are an institution buying in quantity, a three year warranty is one of the sweeteners on offer to put you off negotiating a real discount.

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Re: Does Microsoft offer an exchange program too?

The Age of Repairable Things is long gone. It started with cars. Once upon a day, it wa spossible to fiddle about and fix a car on a driveway, with very few tools. There is now nothing to tweak, fiddle or adjust in a car, and you cant fix them anyway without a £10,000 diagnostics laptop. Computers started going that way aroubnd 2003ish. They dont want you to repair it, they want you to throw it away and buy another, oblivious to the criminal waste of planetary resources that represenets.

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Facepalm

Looks like Microsoft is copying Apple...

With everything soldered-in and held together with glue...

No way i'm ever going to buy something that's completely unfixable.

Because when it dies you can kiss goodbye to your data....

But that's the whole idea isn't it ?

Forcing people to back everything up to "the cloud"...

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Re: Looks like Microsoft is copying Apple... again...

That doesn't really make sense. When any storage device dies you can kiss your data goodbye if you haven't backed it up. So you should be backing up anyway. To cloud or to drives that you rotate and store off-site, it's up to you. Or to another computer, using CrashPlan or similar.

The only difference here is that if the motherboard or memory dies instead of the SSD, you'll effectively lose your data.

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Happy

malle-herbert: Re: Looks like Microsoft is copying Apple...

m-h,

you do realise there are other non-weather related backup options?

I find an Apple timecapsule quite adequate for our reguirements.

Ymmv.

Cheers,

Jay

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Re: forcing people .... cloud

As long as there is a way of getting the data off a device either via a port or via WiFi it does not have to be backed up to the Cloud even with Apple.

Time Machine works very well with a Linux NAS, sorry my private Cloud.

If you are really paranoid about backups and data then the 'rotating tower of hanoi' pattern would be a good one to implement. I get by with four different 2TB HDD's and Time Machine. These are rotated. I do a full backup + 4 incrementals each week.

I will never put my data in the public cloud. Clouds are here today, gone tomorrow.

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Re: Apple timecapsule

Or a generic USB HDD.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: forcing people .... cloud

I get by with four different 2TB HDD's

I have two 1TB SHDD in external cases - the 8GB SSD cache on those *seriously* speeds up the backup over USB3, and as they're 3.5" they're not as stressed as the 2.5" ones, but it does mean you need to run them off a UPS to be wholly safe.

I've always operated two separate backup regimes: one for bare metal rebuilds, and one for file versioning. The latter is taken care of by Apple TimeMachine, the former by Carbon Copy Cloner. A third system uses Chronosync to push certain document areas to one of my servers, but that's not really a backup IMHO.

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Re: malle-herbert: Looks like Microsoft is copying Apple...

My favourite laptop is still my trusty Summer 2010 MacBook which has a 256Gb SSD, maxed out 16Gb RAM and a 500Gb mechanical 2.5" drive where the CD/DVD used to live. The 500Gb is the Timemachine backup drive. Occasionally when I have tired myself out from swearng at the new shiny dark grey thing with its fancy swipe bar etc. I go back to using that one.

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Recycling also difficult

Of course, some will point out that they're happy to just use a laptop for a few years, then replace it. Hence, they don't need replaceable parts. However, another downside of sealing the laptop together with glue and plastic spot-welds is that it also becomes a nightmare to recycle as well once you decide to replace it.

I'm not saying that ultra-portables should necessarily be as upgradable and flexible as a full laptop, but I've seen plenty of ultra-portables (Samsung Series 9, X1 Carbon, Dell XPS) that can be easily un-screwed and repaired/upgraded to at least some degree. Not good MS, not good.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Recycling also difficult

I do not see how this can get a CE label as it is clearly non-compliant to Eu electronic waste disposal directive. Ditto for a couple of US states which have recycling laws.

Somebody needs to take the case (as it will probably involve a lawsuit against the lab that certified it).

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Re: Recycling also difficult

I may be mistaken but don't Apple have a robotic device that recycles their devices for them? I'd imagine that this has no concern about the usability of the equipment it is processing and can heat to melt any glue which is present. Annoying for most yes, but designed to be disassembled to Apples requirements.

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Re: Recycling also difficult

Well if they got the label they're compliant, right? And if that kind of hardware being compliant worries you then that's ok too because Brexit soon, right, so come March 2019 we can make our own labels and show them right proper, like.

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Re: Recycling also difficult

"I do not see how this can get a CE label"

No problem so long as you don't mind it being a China Export label.

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Re: Recycling also difficult

Glued products are EASIER to recycle come end-of-life, because they don't require the labour involved in unscrewing a dozen bolts per machine. Instead, they can be batch processed in a low-temperature oven before the component parts are sorted.

The key is to move away from "fast and nasty" designs that use too many clips and fasteners and move toward products that are easily disassembled in bulk, says Joseph Chiodo, chief executive of Active Disassembly Research, "The more robust we make these products, the less expensive they are to recycle."

- https://www.google.co.uk/amp/www.csmonitor.com/layout/set/amphtml/2007/0308/p13s02-sten.html

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Recycling difficult with screws

Sorry, link above should be:

http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0308/p13s02-sten.html

Bloody Google AMP keeps hijacking my search results.

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Re: Recycling also difficult

"as it is clearly non-compliant to Eu electronic waste disposal directive."

Repairing != breaking into recyclable pieces.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Recycling also difficult

I don't see how you can get past Health and Safety Laws, putting an end of life Laptop in an oven with a glued in lithium ion-battery. The temperature required to melt the glue, would likely melt the lithium-ion battery or heat it to dangerous temperatures. This is done to prevent self-repair, so is the alcantara covering. I mean who wants to use someone's else Alcantara covered laptop?

iFix-it has stated that the company that currently recycles Apple products in the US, can't shred the aluminium cases of laptops with glued in batteries, they are basically unrecycable because the manual effort involved to remove the battery makes it cost prohibitive to do.

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Trollface

Re: Recycling also difficult

recycling isn't all THAT difficult...

a) secretly dump it in a dumpster for some apartment building where you don't live

b) beat with hammer until it's small enough, then place inside of a bag embedded in your kitchen trash, between the rotten food, used tea bags, and greasy paper towels.

"recycled"

and without being able to even CHANGE THE BATTERY, you're gonna have to toss it when PLANNED OBSCELESCENCE limits the product lifetime to something ridiculously short...

so yeah, don't buy one.

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Re: Recycling also difficult

The case halves of the base unit of the Surface Laptop were spot-welded, according the the aforementioned article.

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Mushroom

"can heat to melt any glue which is present"

Hmmm

How much heat would you need to apply to a lappy containing a LION battery before the said brick becomes self firing?

Enquiring terrorists need to know etc etc ...

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Add it to the pile of coal.

We as consumers need to put our foot down on this disposable nonsense.

If your business plan includes making crap that ends up in the garbage heap after five years, you can keep your gadget.

Where's my pitchfork when I need it???

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