back to article Surfacegate: Microsoft execs 'misled Nadella', claims report

Veteran Microsoft-watcher Paul Thurrott has made the sensational allegation that Microsoft's senior management "misled" their CEO about the cause of serious launch issues with its flagship Surface Pro 4 PC. Microsoft defended the reliability of the Surface range after Consumer Reports withdrew its Buy recommendation last week …

  1. Snorlax

    Not surprised...

    ...to hear about "thermal issues" on the Surface Pro 4

    The right hand side of my i5 Surface Pro 3 used to get too hot to hold when doing anything other than web browsing (when the processor was clocked down to 700MHz or something like that).

    I very much doubt this was an Intel fail

    1. Hans 1 Silver badge

      Re: Not surprised...

      I very much doubt this was an Intel fail

      I doubt it also, look at the Apple MacBooks, years, upon years, upon years of service ... I do remember the last generation of G4 Powerbooks getting pretty hot, but that was IBM's fault, back then ...

      Seriously, I understand fanboyism, to a certain extent, however, we are talking Microsoft, here ... I mean, how on earth can you possibly be a Microsoft fanboy ? Must have come from another planet ...

      If MacBooks are over-priced, what is this crap ? Remember, Apple has been shipping Powerbooks/MacBook[Pro]s for nearly two decades that have been thinner than any competing laptop, thinner for the first decade that was, yet Apple never experienced anything like this ... these MS toys are heavily overpriced !!!!!

      DON'T BUY laptops with soldered RAM/SSD, just don't be silly (funnily enough, both Apple and MS are doin' it) ... Maybe it is as simple as: "Anybody stupid enough to pay 10 times more for the kit will be more than happy to renew the purchase after two years!" Worse, with Apple, you at least get a decent UNIX system .... just saying ...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not surprised...

        "I mean, how on earth can you possibly be a Microsoft fanboy ? Must have come from another planet ..."

        Maybe if Microsoft are paying for all your kids to go through Private Education, you might be.

        "DON'T BUY laptops with soldered RAM/SSD"

        Any Pro User needs to really ram this one home, that any laptop with soldered SSD is a f'nightmare if you drop your laptop out of the overhead locker on a plane. (Yes, being there). What should be a day without a laptop, ends up 10 days minimum, be warned, (and you're lucky if you get the data back intact).

        It's fairly obvious by doing this , these companies are no longer looking out for their users, but ony their bottom line. SSDs should NEVER be soldered, and should always be a standard interface.

        1. DJO Silver badge

          Re: Not surprised...

          Well yes but in reality the movement is in the opposite direction, it's just a matter of time until SSDs are no longer a separate item but are an integral part of the motherboard, at least for lappies and tabbies where space is a premium.

          Not endorsing this, much the opposite but I am making a firm prediction.

          1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

            @DJO Re: Not surprised...

            This would be true if you're looking at the overall price of the component and the price of the SSD.

            As SSDs become cheaper, you'll start to see this because it will reduce the cost of the component.

            If you have a tablet, do you really need 128GB or more of flash storage?

            Not for today's use cases, but in 5 years time, who knows. The point is that if the cost of the flash chips drops, and the price of the component drops to a reasonable point where its cheaper to replace than to fix... you'll see it.

            I mean if you drop and crack your screen on your iPhone and the cost to repair it is 25% of the cost of the phone or the cost of the upgrade to a later model... you have to consider which is a better choice. (Once a phone is broken, even repaired, its never the same. Of course, YMMV.

            But you get the idea.

            1. DougS Silver badge

              Soldering them in is fine, if...

              If they include an m.2 slot. Then it can come with a small but reasonable size to cover basic uses, and allow those who want more storage to install as many terabytes as they can afford and those who want more reliability can add a second one for mirroring.

              m.2 slots take up very little space, there's very little argument that the room for it can't be spared.

              This would even be a possible upsell for Intel - sell CPUs with say 256GB of NAND stacked on the package. The performance of that could be pretty impressive since it wouldn't be limited by interfaces like SATA or PCIe.

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: @DJO Not surprised...

              "As SSDs become cheaper, you'll start to see this because it will reduce the cost of the component."

              Looking at the SSD as a component might be the wrong way of looking at it. Consider a personal computer as a data store with some access components wrapped round it.

            3. Tim Seventh
              Joke

              Re: @Ian Michael Gumby Not surprised...

              "If you have a tablet, do you really need 128GB or more of flash storage?"

              Yes. You can never have enough cat videos.

              1. David 132 Silver badge
                Happy

                Re: @Ian Michael Gumby Not surprised...

                You can never have enough cat videos.

                640 kitties should be enough for anyone.

          2. MD Rackham

            Re: Not surprised...

            This is a terrible new trend!

            And what's with the integrated floating-point unit these days? I remember when an FPU was delivered in its own separate rack, as dog intended (FPP-12)!

        2. jeffdyer

          Re: Not surprised...

          Think of any disk as a disk that has not failed yet, and backup accordingly.

      2. Updraft102 Silver badge

        Re: Not surprised...

        "DON'T BUY laptops with soldered RAM/SSD"

        Or CPU, or wireless networking, or battery, or even GPU, if it has one. I've replaced all those items on my laptop (including the two in the citation)!

      3. Ramazan
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Worse, with Apple, you at least get a decent UNIX system

        kind of. It doesn't have systemd at the very least. Other than that there were better, lighter and thinner notebooks from Sony.

        - "Apple has been shipping Powerbooks/MacBook[Pro]s for nearly two decades that have been thinner than any competing laptop, thinner for the first decade that was"

        - "You know nothing, Jon Snow"

        :)

    2. Bob Vistakin
      Facepalm

      Microsoft lying about surface?

      But they said it ran internet explorer so well.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Microsoft lying about surface?

        But WHO runs Internet Explorer?

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: Microsoft lying about surface?

          Well the world health organisation probably get decent bulk MS licence deals so it isnt a surprise they run IE

        2. David 132 Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Microsoft lying about surface?

          But WHO runs Internet Explorer?

          What's that?

          Oh, you mean that one-time-use Microsoft Firefox Downloader app?

          1. Chris Jasper

            Re: Microsoft lying about surface?

            I spent all this time thinking the e was some kind of symbol for get firefox or get chrome, who knew?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Microsoft lying about surface?

        Maybe, just maybe ... with a large team of people working on it some people lower down genuinely believed the overheating issue was an Intel chip problem? Maybe the senior management had been told that and then told Nadella?

        Maybe the issue is that when the truth was finally uncovered no one then had the balls to let Nadella know that it was their cockup and so it wasn't actually a lie it's just the truth was withheld?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Very surprised...

    ...to hear about Microsoft being caught out lying. I always had them right there with Oracle in terms of level of trust.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Very surprised...

      my sarcasm meter just hit the limit

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Very surprised...

        Needle fell off mine. I'll have to get an inferior digital meter (more accurate, but slower response time and easily confused by RF).

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        my sarcasm meter just hit the limit

        deserves its own title

    2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Very surprised...

      When you make Leisure Larry's minions look truthful and trustworthy you are in deep trouble.

  3. knarf

    Yup drivers

    When I got my surface book about a year ago its barely booted out the box and was completely unusable .

    Spent a whole day doing updates and to get it back to a working machine.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: Yup drivers

      Similar experience with a SP 4. Then went through the update problem where alternately, eith the Wifi or the sleep state would go wrong.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Facepalm

      Re: Yup drivers

      So let me get this straight:

      1. Microsoft is entirely responsible for the hardware design.

      2. Microsoft is entirely responsible for the OS and all the running software.

      3. Microsoft cannot get the drivers right.

      It beggars belief. Nice one, SatNad.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Yup drivers

        "Microsoft is entirely responsible for the hardware design."

        Except for the bits they can contrive to blame someone else for.

      2. Asylum_visitor

        Re: Yup drivers

        Welcome to a combination of Agile and using the consumers as your QA Team!

  4. Avatar of They
    Thumb Down

    I would guess MS is to blame

    Purely because someone somewhere in any other company in the world that uses skylake would be calling foul on their laptops? Or did no other make use them? Where are the lenovo help forums crying foul or the Dell ones etc?

    And MS are so open and trust worthy now who could possibly suggest... Actually I can't finish that sentence.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: I would guess MS is to blame

      Could it just be that Intel's documentation was wrong? MS assume a certain amount of heat needs to be lost, design for that, but then get overheating when the chips run hotter than claimed. Wouldn't affect larger designs.

      Just a though, no evidence or opinion either way.

      1. Snorlax

        Re: I would guess MS is to blame

        @AMBxx:"Could it just be that Intel's documentation was wrong?"

        I don't think any other manufacturer was having the same problem, so probably not.

        If Thurrott is correct in that Microsoft wrongly pointed the finger of blame at Intel, their lawyers might have a defamation case to contend with if Intel can show a loss as a result of the statement.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: I would guess MS is to blame

        Could it just be that Intel's documentation was wrong?

        Highly unlikely: for years (since the Pentium 4, I think) Intel has had hardware thermal cutouts built into its chips because, as a hardware manufacturer, Intel understands the costs of product recall, both of having to provide replacement equipment and in regaining trust. Intel also regularly provides well-documented reference boards.

        1. Wayland Bronze badge

          Re: I would guess MS is to blame

          I was overclocking (overcooking) an old Xeon cpu I'd patched for a 775 motherboard. The performance actually went *down* as I took the speed past 3.4 GHz. At first it was significantly faster but as the temperature approached 100C it must have been thermal throttling, it never went higher than 98C.

          I could not kill this chip, it protected itself. Nore did the computer crash at these settings.

          Decent cooling would allow me to keep performance at high loads and even quite high temperatures.

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: I would guess MS is to blame

          Intel understands the costs of product recall

          Indeed. After all, they have had plenty of experience at it..

      3. Hans 1 Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: I would guess MS is to blame

        Could it just be that Intel's documentation was wrong? MS assume a certain amount of heat needs to be lost, design for that, but then get overheating when the chips run hotter than claimed. Wouldn't affect larger designs.

        Let me work this one out ....

        So, SP4 design team shit something together that follows Intel's guidelines nicely, they then order 10 000 units from China and start selling them directly .... ala who needs prototypes, alpha and beta testers if the Windows 10 users are more than happy to do the dirty work ?

        I hesitated between Trump and Joke icon ... this post is sad, let's go with Donald.

      4. Marshalltown

        Re: I would guess MS is to blame

        "...Could it just be that Intel's documentation was wrong? ..."

        Nah. The chipset has been in use fairly widely with no issues on the radar. MS has always been a crew that "know better." It has bitten them before. It will again. I am still at loss about the point of using a "fondle slab." I like my desktop.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: I would guess MS is to blame

          My dell xps laptop with its i5 skylake runs just fine.

      5. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: I would guess MS is to blame

        it's a fair bet that the hardware design includes things like board layout, heat sinking, and some means of getting that heat out of the CPU [and other components] and into something else [like the surrounding air] that doesn't cause blisters on the user's various body parts.

        So yeah, I'd kinda blame THAT. And I bet that was Microsoft's own in house design, too.

        Maybe they need to subcontract to Lenovo or Acer or Dell to get it right...

    2. nerdbert
      FAIL

      Re: I would guess MS is to blame

      May I point out that MS had the same inability to read a thermal spec issue with the Xbox 360 and the RRoD? Which is why they had to go to IBM's more expensive SOI process to move the processor temperature down. (Not that it was totally MS's fault, but they should have done a better transition to lead-less solder like most other companies did.)

      I would suggest there may be a lack of attention to thermal engineering in the MS hardware department and too-slavish deference to design engineering. A failure in one flagship product is understandable, but not learning from it speaks volumes about the culture in MS's hardware division.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: I would guess MS is to blame

        The cause isn't the thermals, but the weird stuff MS did with custom drivers and the like (and to be fair, some of the hardware like the Surface Book's removable GPU probably need non-standard drivers and firmware). This means that when OEM drivers and firmware were updated, it took MS longer to get patches out than it took Lenovo et al.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stupid Microsoft

    Apple would have just said "you're holding it wrong".

    Voila! No returns.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Microsoft pretty did say you're holding it wrong.

      Apple has always being very clever in the way it 'reports' the current Battery State/Charge. Apple work on the basis that after 1000 full cycles of the battery you should still get 80% of it's charge, compared to new.

      I'm pretty sure Apple's Li-ion batteries themselves degrades much faster, but clever software programming by Apple gives this appearance, i.e. initially there is more capacity available than stated, and after 1000 cycles, this "reserve" is gradually added to the reported 'mix', to make it appear the battery is more resilient that it actually is.

      It's a tweak Apple worked out over time, with thorough testing of the device.

      Now take Microsoft, the Surface Pro 3 / Surface Pro 4 are very different to the iPad, in that these are normal high wattage Intel Processors, they have a much higher current drain / recharge rate compared to an iPad. I think Microsoft firstly didn't allow any software "reserve" and secondly, underestimated the shear damage 1000 cycles of high drain / quick charge rate would have on the battery itself, due to this high current drain.

      The so called software firmware fix was never going to genuinely fix the dying batteries in the Surface Pro 3/4. It was the physical stress on the batteries doing the damage. Surface Pros have a 3-4 (more like 2-3) shelf life at most, because of this and people need to thoroughly understand that before purchasing.

      Second, when Intel came up with Skylake they added new Sleep / Power efficency states. This relates to similar problems Linux has in interpreting this information from the processor / 'southbridge' io chipset/system bios. It takes a bit of jiggery to get it right. It relates to the low level commands of the ACPI (Advanced Power and Configuration Interface) co-developed by Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, Phoenix, and Toshiba.

      The ACPI Interface/code is inherently buggy, but over the years Manufacturer like HP, Lenovo has learnt the workarounds in order to prevent the battery charging problems, while Microsoft obviously have some skill in implementing the next layer (drivers) between the OS and the hardware, I think they were inexperienced in the ACPI layer between the hardware and the Processor, and how this is presented then to the OS.

      I genuinely think most of Microsoft woes were related to Microsoft and not Intel, Intel added new sleep/Power States with Skylake and Microsoft rushed out the device based on older interpretations of those sleep/Power states for their implementation of the ACPI/Hardware.

      I'd blame Microsoft, no Intel. That's my take.

      Intel may have failed to document those Power States properly, but that would be unlike Intel. I think the info was there, Microsoft failed to read it, implement/test those new Power States, it's implementation of the ACPI for the Surface Range thoroughly.

      I think Panos Panay may be the fall-guy for this, if they can afford to lose him. He seems very much the man that would try and cover up an issue than ever declare he made an honest mistake.

      1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        Re: Microsoft pretty did say you're holding it wrong.

        "I'm pretty sure Apple's Li-ion batteries themselves degrades much faster, but clever software programming by Apple gives this appearance, i.e. initially there is more capacity available than stated, and after 1000 cycles, this "reserve" is gradually added to the reported 'mix', to make it appear the battery is more resilient that it actually is."

        Possibly true. Doesn't really matter how they do it though, all Joe Q User cares about is that their Macbook runs for 10 hours (or whatever) when new, and is still delivering 8+ hours 2 years on. 'True' battery capacity is irrelevant as long as the user can rely on a certain quantified benefit.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Microsoft pretty did say you're holding it wrong.

          Possibly true. Doesn't really matter how they do it though, all Joe Q User cares about is that their Macbook runs for 10 hours (or whatever) when new, and is still delivering 8+ hours 2 years on. 'True' battery capacity is irrelevant as long as the user can rely on a certain quantified benefit.

          That was my point. Apple give you a battery that you perceive to be operating much better than would be expected over it's lifetime. The user experience is better overall by using clever 'deceptve techniques'.

          1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

            Re: Microsoft pretty did say you're holding it wrong.

            @AC "by using clever 'deceptve techniques'."

            And that was MY point - that it's not deceptive at all, just good quality engineering with a focus on end-user value rather than pointless spec sheets.

      2. JLV Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: Microsoft pretty did say you're holding it wrong.

        Ever heard of thermal runaway throttle w Apple? CPU goes up to 350% "usage" or so. This is because the machine is perceiving overheating (among other spots - in your battery) and doesn't want to catch fire. So, at avery low level the CPU pretends to be hyper busy so that whatever program is causing the real heavy use that's causing heat buildup can't get CPU cycles.

        With me so far?

        Now, physically take out or disconnect an MBPs battery and the system doesn't see its heat sensor anymore. So it happily _assumes_ overheating from that _absent_ sensor in your equally _absent_ battery.

        CPU throttle to the rescue of your overheating battery and you can't use your machine just plugged in until you get a new battery. Been there.

        So... let's not go overboard in Apple praise on this particular subject, even to rag on MS, shall we?

        Flame, cuz.

        1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

          Re: Microsoft pretty did say you're holding it wrong.

          "Ever heard of thermal runaway throttle w Apple? CPU goes up to 350% "usage" or so..."

          Google sez this was a couple of people back in 2008 wondering if their MBA was throttling because they were having trouble running Minecraft or something.

          Not the world's most dramatic smoking gun, if I'm honest.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. JLV Silver badge
            Flame

            Re: Microsoft pretty did say you're holding it wrong.

            >Google sez this was a couple of people back in 2008 wondering if their MBA

            Nope, April 2017 with trip to Genius bar where this exact thing was shown to happen on my, 2011, machine. The tech there and I talked it out and this was exactly what was happening. From the sounds of it, this is largely something that is decided in the low level OS/firmware, not just the hardware - the mac was aware it had no battery and still did just that.

            But don't let get that get in the way of being a good fanboi ;-)

            I rather like Apple hardware, and even more so the OS. Yes, it's pricey and is not perfect by any means, just better than a lot of alternatives (unless you have the mojo to tweak Linux on exotic hardware, which I don't). And it's impressive that a 6 year old machine still mostly runs smoothly and effectively. But I effin hate being lumped in with the fanboi brigade in the reality distortion field.

            https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/how-to-solve-kernel_task-high-cpu-usage.1706948/

            1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

              Re: Microsoft pretty did say you're holding it wrong.

              @JLV "Nope, April 2017 with trip to Genius bar where this exact thing was shown to happen on my, 2011, machine. "

              So your six year old Macbook is still serving you well enough that it's worth taking in to a Genius bar? Sounds like a resounding quality endorsement to me.

              1. JLV Silver badge

                Re: Microsoft pretty did say you're holding it wrong.

                >Sounds like a resounding quality endorsement to me.

                In this case, yes. But it doesn't change the fact that the CPU throttling, which you cleverly decided was bullshit on my end, is pretty Catch 22-esque - how the heck do you justify thermal shutdown on an absent battery? When the rest of the system is perfectly aware it's missing. So, I think it's perfectly reasonable not to hold up Apple battery wisdom overmuch in heat management zen for the Surface.

                The 2016 MBP I wanted to replace it with was returned - lousy keyboard, pricey, and the Touch Bar is a gimmick outside of native OSX apps and has zero travel. And it wasn't that much faster than my old laptop.

                So, on balance, Apple is still the least worst for what I want to use the gear for. I still don't appreciate the cant-do-no-wrong attitude of its deep fanbois. I do feel embarrassed about stupid gushiness about Apple - they're just a vendor and it is to our best interest as customers to keep them on their toes, not idolize them.

                To repeat: the fact that I am servicing 6 year old gear takes nothing away from the idiocy of the particular issue I was talking about and that you decided you needed to correct me on for bad-mouthing poor Apple.

                1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

                  Re: Microsoft pretty did say you're holding it wrong.

                  Well - I'm not saying your problem is bullshit, but the thread you linked to had a bunch of people with a similar symptom but many different possible causes. Most had either screwed around with their critical system files or had replaced various hardware bits themselves (screen, sensors, thermal paste, logic board etc) - as well as things like having dropped their MB, water damage and so on.

                  I struggle to see this as idiocy on the part of Apple, and it doesn't seem to me to be indicative of a quality failing on their part. Other things quite possibly, but not this.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Microsoft pretty did say you're holding it wrong.

        I love Apple.

    2. Bob Vistakin
      Facepalm

      Re: Stupid Microsoft

      In a way, you could blame the users for this.

      After all, if you're so fucking thick you haven't got the message by now about how microsoft should be avoided at all costs, you deserve the inevitable shit coming your way.

      1. RyokuMas Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Stupid Microsoft

        Ah, but who want's to be associated with a community where the most vocal, instead of trying to illustrate why their chosen system is better than Microsoft's in reasonable discussion, just label anyone who doesn't agree with them as "fucking thick"?

        After all, that kind of knee-jerk, tar-them-all-with-one-brush response works so well for gaining support and popularity, right?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I love Apple.

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Me too. Not perfect, but pretty damn good in most respects.

      1. Uffish

        Re: "but pretty damn good"

        My wife's iPad works perfectly when it's switched off.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: "but pretty damn good"

          Yep, that toughened glass screen makes an excellent chopping board.

        2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

          Re: "but pretty damn good"

          See, Apple engineering is so good that even a dead iPad is still useful.

  7. justAnITGuy

    I'm alright Jack ...

    Surface Pro 4 owner here. Bought it in January (2017). Worked okay out of the box. I wouldn't say that it ran hot. Although the fan came on frequently, which is irritating in a quiet room.

    Creators Update took care of all that ... Post-update Windows Hello not working. Days spent on tinternets trying to find the cure. Lots of solutions proffered. None worked. I ended up running a Factory Reset of the tablet, followed by another update to Creators (of course). And everything is back to working again.

    Really, Microsoft? Really? 2017 and you're still at it!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Microsoft's senior management "misled" their CEO about the cause of serious launch issues with its flagship Surface Pro 4 PC."

    Don't they have a phrase for that in Washington DC, "plausible deniability" ?

    On a side note didn't Ifixit report on these as completely irreparable as trying to open them destroys them ?

    1. Snorlax

      @AC:"On a side note didn't Ifixit report on these as completely irreparable as trying to open them destroys them ?"

      The screen was cooked in my Surface Pro 3 from the heat. Sent it in for repair and got a refurbished unit back (with the same heat problem). I doubt Microsoft were wasting any time opening them up and repairing them.

      My story did have a happy ending - I offloaded the Surface Pro to Cash Converters in the end.

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: plausible deniability

      Sorry, that only works inside the 'Beltway'. For the rest of the USA, the lawyers will be ordering more stocks of Yellow Legal Pads and Pencils.

      MS at the moment seems to be like a huge ocean Liner that sees an Iceberg on the horizon and the Captain orders them to steam 'full speed ahead' right for it. He thinks that the bow wave created by his juggernaut of a ship will make the iceberg get out of the way.

    3. Updraft102 Silver badge

      It was the Surface Laptop that was completely unrepairable. The Surface Pro x series were only nearly unrepairable (my term, not theirs), with a repairability score of 1 of 10. The Surface Laptop got the first (and so far only, as far as I know) 0 score.

  9. PhilipN Silver badge

    So the news is ..... ?

    Dynamite?? Gimme a break.

    Anybody here believes execs never mangle facts when presenting to senior execs?

    And anybody believes senior execs do not know how to skew that Board Paper to get the decision they want? Or rather - get the Board to rubber stamp a decision already made by senior execs?

    How do you think those guys make their way to the top?

    Darwin was not wrong, just naive : survival of the fittest indeed, coupled with blind ambition and an instinct for self-preservation and self-preferment.

    Hello world.

    1. cyclical

      Re: So the news is ..... ?

      But when your mangled facts make your exec look stupid to the competition, you can bet there will be a rapidly resolved witch-hunt going on as we speak.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    QA?

    Devices probably have no QA dept along with their new improved OS! (cough)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When MS Was Good

    MS once sold and supported some of the best in the industry. When my company installed their WAN using MicroVAXs in our remote offices, they also chose the DEC equivalent of PCs for the rarefied places that would have a computer sitting on a desk.

    These DEC XT/AT equivalents ran DOS. We used Lotus 1-2-3, Word Perfect, and dBase II and were thrilled.

    I purchased my first C compiler from Microsoft in 1986 because they finally added the Compact memory model. I was even a math library tester for a time, receiving version 5 at an extreme discount for having participated in the math lib testing. (Note: they did not give it away free.)

    Eventually MS began competing with the tools that ran on their operating system. Their tools were horrid by comparison, but for some reason they beat out the competition for sales. I think it was because Word and Excel and other tools were "bundled" with h/w sales and it made it cheaper for Amalgamated Incorporated, LLC, PC, LSMFT to buy if they were willing to use inferior desktop applications.

    About that time, Steve Jobs was selling a compact device that had "bundled" software that did all of this and much more, but it was rock-solid, intuitive, and worked out of the box. Of course, Steve asked people to pay what it was worth rather than take the "first one's free" approach of the Redmond Con Man.

    By the time the lemmings (me among them) ran off the "visual O/S" precipice, MS was selling everything but the box. We were buying the O/S, desktop apps, databases, networks, comms packages, and just about everything else for which the price was "our very souls."

    Windows '95 was a disaster. Windows ME was worse. Vista was a wide crater waiting to be bored into the crash site of our enterprises. To a lesser extent Win 8 was a disaster, but the world already spent all of its allied compassion for MS by then and any tiny stumble was a public failure.

    Still, in the midst of this, developer's tools -- long forgotten by the Redmond Orcs -- finally garnered some attention and we have gotten .NET, VS versions that are free (and still good), .NET Core, VS "subscriptions" to replace the MSDN subscriptions, servers that are solid (finally), enterprise RDBMS that are capable (finally), and some capabilities and support for industry standards in web and internet protocols.

    I felt like Satya had rescued MS from the Ballmer/Sinofsky axis of evil that very nearly killed MS. Open source versions of .NET, participation (although like the neighborhood bully) in OS committees, and improvements of their development and server products (their desktop app history still being one of debate) have raised MS from an execration to okay.

    Even though it has been very difficult to convince me that Win 8.1 or Win 10 is anything but a self-goal when a hat-trick was needed, at least with the development community, MS and Satya have all contributed to returned value, in my opinion.

    That was when MS was good.

    Now Bad MS is back. MS the hardware builder. MS the unified. MS the one-stop-shop.

    This all reminds me of how hard they tried to convince us that Vista was good. Or that '95 was good. Or that the Paper Clip was good. Or that ... you know.

    MS stumbles. Sometimes it stumbles hard. I will remember, though.

    When MS was good.

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: When MS Was Good

      Lovely post :)

      1. Grade%

        Re: When MS Was Good

        Indeed. :)

    2. emullinsabq

      Re: When MS Was Good

      Windows 95 was good. It offered a 32-bit memory model to the masses at a reasonable price. It also provided an updated GUI that is still usable today.

      The first point can't be over-emphasized. The shift to 32-bit code was long overdue, and unfortunately, the win32s system was not good enough for many cases. The real win32 API was available in the NT line prior to 95, but the price was eye-watering.

      Also, believe it or not, Microsoft in that era actually wrote pretty decent code. "Writing Solid Code" by Steve Maguire should have been required reading for anyone studying CS at that time.

      Sadly, MS has adopted a different philosophy lately. Namely that all code is crap, and we can fix it later-- only they never do. That, coupled with their recent turds have convinced me they will never again make a desktop OS I want. As such, I'm on Devuan now-- 100%. Too bad, I think they didn't know how to grow a market that was saturated and decided to stop caring about putting out stuff people wanted, and shifted to putting out stuff that meshed nicely with their own long term goals while treating their users like sheep.

      1. defiler Silver badge

        @emullinsabq Re: When MS Was Good

        "Windows 95 was good. It offered a 32-bit memory model to the masses at a reasonable price."

        I got OS/2 Warp (v3) in 1994. It was the red-spine version, and cost less than my copy of Windows 95 that I bought in 1995. And it gate a proper 32-bit memory model. And it was rock-solid, even when I was showing off playing Descent in a Windows whilst writing a CD (you know, the proper *gold* ones that were a fiver a pop, and you had to put into a caddy before inserting into the drive).

        Windows 95 was not good. It was adequate. But it was bearable in 4MB of RAM, unlike OS/2 (to be fair).

    3. Someone Else Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: LSMFT

      Dude, how old are you?!?

      Because if you can drink it w/o dribbling down your shirt, you've earned it with that 5LA --->

    4. Walter Bishop Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: When MS Was Good

      "MS once sold and supported some of the best in the industry"

      Are you posting from some parallel universe, cause I remember things differently.

      "Eventually MS began competing with the tools that ran on their operating system. Their tools were horrid by comparison, but for some reason they beat out the competition for sales".

      From the Microsoft Lexicon: 'competing for sales' == 'screwing over your business partners'.

      "Joint Development Agreement between International Business Machines and Microsoft"

      "we need to focus on .. establishing OS/2 as the next standard in personal computing" Bill Gates

      "I was super enthustiac that we shipped OS/2" Steve Ballmer

      "The demos of OS/2 were excellent, crashing the system had the intended effect -- to FUD OS/2 2.0."

      'OS/2 "Crush" will focus .. to stop IBM from further successful promotion of OS/2.'

      "It's pretty clear we need to make sure Windows 3.1 only runs on top of MS DOS or an OEM version of it," David Cole

      Microsoft Litigation ...

  12. Rajiv_Chaudri

    Nadella needs to stick to software and stop trying hardware.

    1. Someone Else Silver badge

      Nadella needs to take his stock options, and retire to somewhere warm and isolated so that he can do no further damage to the rest of the world.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Nadella needs to take his stock options, and retire to somewhere warm and isolated

        Trouble is for Nadella, is everyone would know where to find him if he used Windows 10 on his laptop.

  13. tmz

    My son is on his 3rd Surface Pro, following returns for 2 machines that simply became unusable after just a few months.

    I bought a USB connected keyboard for him to use after he had destroyed the supplied one out of shear frustration at trying to get it to work.

    The solution for all this pain is simple though - never buy MS hardware.

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      I once heard that Microsoft made quite good mice.

      Nothing else, though.

      1. DJV Silver badge

        Nope, just keyboards...

        I'm still using an Internet Keyboard Pro that's from 1999 - most of the cursor keys no longer have symbols on them and the wrist rest is well polished but it still works fine. Damn good job it has both 5-pin and USB connectors.

  14. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Rumour has it...

    ... that feet are no longer covered by Microsoft's employee healthcare programme, due to the frequency they seem to shoot themselves there...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Stages of MS Denial

    * This is great stuff!

    * Pay no attention to the MS behind the curtain.

    * It's not our fault!

    * It used to be worse.

    * It's not as bad as you think.

    * It's bad but we're working on it.

    * We can't save it.

    * You'll miss it when it's gone.

    * The loons. Can you hear the loons?

    * ...

    * It's dead but look at this new product!

    1. JLV Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: The Stages of MS Denial

      You forgot the perennial pre-launch hype marketing:

      "This new version of Windows will require minimal reboots when applying updates".

      Even cynical El Reg usually falls for that old chestnut at least once in the runup to a new release. The readership usually doesn't.

      1. Ropewash

        Re: The Stages of MS Denial

        You just reminded me of one of my long-time favourite bits of reading.

        http://blog.seattlepi.com/microsoft/2008/06/24/full-text-an-epic-bill-gates-e-mail-rant/

        Especially the line;

        "Then it told me to reboot my machine. Why should I do that? I reboot every night — why should I reboot at that time?"

        I recall thinking at that time that perhaps ole BillG wasn't used to using Windows.

        1. Snorlax

          Re: The Stages of MS Denial

          @Ropewash:You just reminded me of one of my long-time favourite bits of reading.

          http://blog.seattlepi.com/microsoft/2008/06/24/full-text-an-epic-bill-gates-e-mail-rant/

          If that had been good ole autistic Linus, the email would have consisted of lots of swear words and ad hominem attacks...

          https://www.spinics.net/lists/stable/msg14063.html

  16. RegGuy1

    Nothing changes

    I remember in the 90s it used to be said: 'Intel makes faster processors, Microsoft makes slower ones.'

    Seems it's still true.

  17. IGnatius T Foobar
    FAIL

    Microsoft FAIL

    Seriously, why bother with one of these things anyway? They're basically just overpriced status symbols. They're not very good at being a computer *or* a tablet and they run the same version of Windows as everything else. Just get an ultrabook from a reputable manufacturer; Intel has already done all of the enginnering and worked out the thermal tolerances etc.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Microsoft FAIL

      Unlike Apple, the tainted Microsoft brand does not deserve a premium tax..

      Anyhow, if it's a Win10 machine you're looking to buy, you'll get better value for money getting something from Lenovo, HP, Dell etc.

      When Microsoft first launched the Surface device (iPad wannabe), it was unofficially declaring war on the hardware OEMs, which for years had a working relationship with Microsoft. The OEMs understood this, that's why they're exploring ARM and Android alternatives to Wintel.

      In any case, Microsoft might want to consider using AMD Ryzen chips for its future Surface devices. When it comes to these tablets and laptops, thermal temperatures and power efficiency matter much, much more than winning the geek-bragging trophy on a benchmark test.

    2. jMcPhee

      Re: Microsoft FAIL

      Another thing to bear in mind is that a lot of this is done to snow the investment community and diddle the stock price. MS-phone and Vista are great examples of something which sucked from the starting blocks but was hyped big time to Wall Street. Charlie Demerjian used to talk about MS turd polishing; not much has changed in Redmond.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They can't even do in-house custom drivers properly...

    ...but surely you can trust the quality of the Windows Update patches that are auto-delivered to your Win10 computer, eh?

    "The real problem was Surface-specific custom drivers and settings that the Microsoft hardware team cooked up."

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Chimes of Big Ben.

    They are not needed anymore.

    A Lotus Seven S II was seen arriving at Westminster with a smartly dressed gentleman inside. Looks like he's found his new home away from home.

  20. cambsukguy

    The good news is that they will be found out

    You can't possibly fool most of the people all of the time.

    People won't fall for it for long, if the stuff they sell is no good, people will stop buying it.

    And then the shares will drop and they will go bankrupt.

    To prove it, I just checked the shares and, oh wait, up 25% so far this year.

    Hmm, I am not sure that the naysayers and doom-mongers will be proved correct if all those sill financial people keep believing the hype.

    I have one question, why do people keep buy MS software? If the free (and paid for) alternatives are just better, why would they buy them?

    I get that people paid for iTunes because 'Easy is better than free (torrents etc.)'. It is also more honest if you can afford it. I get that some people by Macs and that they are rather expensive (not compared to a Surface but to a 'mortal' laptop.

    But why do people stand for Windows when (apparently) it is a steaming pile of garbage.

    Is it entirely the case that these vast corporations, hospitals and governments etc. don't know that there is a free alternative which only requires that the hire some IT guys to run (which has to be the case anyway)?

    I know I will get castrated here (but who-gives-a-shit), however, it does seem a perfectly reasonable question given that the stock answer 'Everybody is a sucker' could not possibly be the case for the immense number of people falling for the 'hype'.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The good news is that they will be found out

      Just takes time. Linux Mint 18.2 is superb. Linux Mint 18.2 takes 10 minutes to fully install (and fully updated as part of that process). It's crazy quick to install, even quicker to try from the Live USB Version. Latest Cinnamon Desktop is great, rock solid. I find Libre Office perfectly adequate for most uses, and it's as good as any non desktop version of MS Office, i.e. iPad versions.

      I have to admit the 'full fat' desktop version of Excel with VB macros is a very powerful piece of software. It has its uses, but the need for it is coming more niche, as time passes.

      Windows 10 AU (CU less so) is OK , but clunky Windows update is still the bag of nails, it's always been, even worse if anything, because updates are so bloody often.

      I really do wonder why we're all still using Windows too, if there was a time to move away from the Windows conveyor belt, it has to now or never. (Indirect) Subscription is (in some form) coming, whatever Microsoft say.

    2. Wayland Bronze badge

      Re: The good news is that they will be found out

      Why buy Microsoft? I am building a computer for a customer who has school age children. I can easily install Libre Office but I don't want to because it may confuse them and cause support calls. I am just going to re-install the office license they paid for.

      Some people could honestly be OK with any Office software but people are a bit limited and if it's not MS Office they think I forgot to install Windows. They call MS Office MS Windows, they don't know they are different things.

      Things change very slowly. Any attempt by people to change things too fast is met by resistance.

  21. EveryTime Silver badge

    Remember Windows RT

    Does anyone remember Windows RT, which was a version of Windows 8 for ARM-based computers?

    It was only 4 years ago, so you should.

    It was technically successful, but killed for two reasons. First, internal Microsoft political backstabbing. No surprise there. Second, and relevant to this story, it was because the Windows driver model was horrible. Only nVIDIA could get it to work acceptably. Microsoft tried desperately to get other ARM SoC vendors to the point where they could pass the certification tests. They paid them money. They gave big press coverage (viz Qualcomm at CES 2014) and provided huge incentives. Then they dropped the standards. Even so, they still ended up with drivers that would hang or go into modes where they would suck the battery flat within minutes.

    There are actually a whole bunch of stories here. NVidia had spent a huge amount of money to support Microsoft, only to be backstabbed by Microsoft paying and promoting other companies. Internally, Microsoft was so intent to avoid a Intel-like primary hardware vendor that they hobbled the only working products. And internally WinRT was sabotaged by applications groups that refused to port critical applications such as Office to the platform.

    1. Snorlax

      Re: Remember Windows RT

      @EveryTime:"And internally WinRT was sabotaged by applications groups that refused to port critical applications such as Office to the platform."

      Lol what have you been smoking? The Surface RT tablet came bundled with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Onenote and Outlook (otherwise known as Office Home and Student 2013 RT).

      It was only 4 years ago, you should remember...

  22. This post has been deleted by its author

  23. Walter Bishop Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Nadella to blame for buggy Surface Pro drivers

    Headline corrected for accuracy. As usual in these cases when a major scandal comes to light, try and deflect blame against the CEO and foist it onto the underlings. Do you seriously expect us to believe Nadella was unaware of the real source of the problem.

    1. EveryTime Silver badge

      Re: Nadella to blame for buggy Surface Pro drivers

      I could believe Nadella was lied to... uhm, "managed up".

      Rather than admit that they didn't have the right people writing the drivers, they didn't have the competency to understand whole-system power management, and that Intel wouldn't do it for them because of the soured relationship, mid-level managers twisted the facts into a story that the power problem was inherent to the hardware.

  24. Grandpa Tom

    What about DVT reports?

    Intel thermals make the surface machine fail? OK, but the special drivers that Microsoft insisted be installed might cause the failure.

    For example: The cooling profile is totally under control of the BIOS and MSFT clearly had control of the thermal design. The volume of air inside the machine and the movement of the chassis (based on fan speed) are the MSFT responsibility.

    My question: Whet happened with the MSFT DVT testing? Somewhere inside MSFT some DVT engineer has a thermal profile with a dozen (or more) thermal test points inside the chassis. The report will show ambient temperature (across the entire spec for the product). The thermal measurement (taken with various software stress level programs) will show the thermal margin of the design.

    I have done this kind of test on many products. Industry standard techniques using chart recorders and environmental chambers tell the truth.

    1. Wayland Bronze badge

      Re: What about DVT reports?

      You can bet some compromises happened. The chap tweaking the temperature profile to keep it cool and stable would have been battling the people trying to make sure it has the performance they require.

      I expect it can be stable as long as you accept far less than i7 performance and put up with a lot of fan noise.

      They should have done two things first. Chose the coolest Intel chips and make the cooling as effective as possible. Only then play around with cooling profiles, once that's not all that important.

      I just build a RYZEN 5 system with a nice new graphics card. Under load (cryptocoin mining on CPU and GPU) for hours at 33C ambient nothing gets hot. The right chips and a big case and it's fine. The surface book has it wrong because of it's size and chipset.

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: What about DVT reports?

      What does Deep Vein Thrombosis have to do with the Surface Pro 4? Other than using Windows 10 can kill you by sheer annoyance..

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm at a loss

    I can't imagine why you wouldn't just get an iPad Pro or an MacBook Air. Who seriously would think "yes something running Windows is going to be awesome". Maybe people don't care about design, security and reliability. It's not like it's even cheap which excused millions of coupon mofo for buying shite PCs.

    It's a very strange world.

    1. Bob Vistakin
  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why is this a surprise, if true?

    Normal management practice... your boss tells his boss what they think he wants to hear rather than what he needs to hear - simply to make his life easier and enhance promotion possibilities.

    Even if they get caught out they still seem to do rather well in the promotion stakes.

    Leads to sh*tty workplaces everywhere. Standard.

  27. PeterM42
    FAIL

    Ah! - Another....

    .....Quality MS product FAIL

  28. arctic_haze Silver badge

    Let's buy some MSFT stock

    I was thinking about how much Microsoft profits depend on people choosing to pay money for MS Office instead of using free alternatives. People have to notice sooner or later that MS Office offers nothing except for lock-in and even that is eroded by how well other software opens Microsoft proprietary file formats. People can make reasonable choices, after all. They're not stupid.

    And then I remembered Brexit and Trump...

  29. ChaosFreak
    Flame

    My Surface Pro 4 Used to Overheat Constantly

    When I first got my Surface Pro 4 (I pre-ordered, so had one of the first off the line), it used to overheat at least once a day. I would leave it on at night, and the next morning it would have completely rebooted. This was a mystery, until I witnessed it happen once while I was using it (the big thermometer icon appears on the screen). Sometimes I couldn't even install updates because it would fail halfway through with the thermometer icon. I had to rig up a beer keg cooler and place the Surface Pro on that to prevent it overheating.

    I never returned it or had it serviced, but the problem went away after a year. I suspect that Microsoft rolled out some updated BIOS/firmware and/or drivers that fixed the problem.

  30. ds6 Bronze badge
    Coat

    Retail has problems too

    A friend of mine works at a local retail chain---their Surface Pro 4 and Surfacebook on display have both overheated numerous times, leading to confused customers asking why the display computers are not turning on. The company has since stopped trying to replace them, leaving them unplugged.

    Intel is finished. Microsoft is a joke. Hail AMD, FreeBSD, and Hydra!

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