Microsoft is initiating a global voluntary recall of Surface Pro power cords amid concerns of over-heating.
According to sources in Microsoft's Authorized Device Reseller (ADR) channel, Pro machines built before 15 July last year will qualify to be swapped out as part of an exchange program. A spokesman at Microsoft sent us a statement:
"As a result of damage caused by AC power cords being wound too tightly, twisted or pinched over an extended period of time, a very small proportion of Surface Pro customers have reported issues with their AC power cord."
Details of how customers can obtain a "free" replacement cable are in the offing, but Microsoft made no further statement at this point.
The recall does not impact Surface RTs because these ARM-based devices use a different power supply.
ADRs we spoke to claimed there may be a risk of over-heating, but complaints from customers on this do not seem to be particularly widespread.
"This is a voluntary recall, it's something and nothing," one told us on the condition of anonymity.
Tim Coulling, senior analyst at Canalys, said that it is a "fact of life" that electronics sometimes fail. "All vendors can do is hold up their hands and it seems Microsoft is doing all that is required."
Surface was a loss-making product for Microsoft in the 18 months after launch, with the vendor taking a $900m inventory write-down on the chin. But this was the RT version, which led to a lawsuit from disgruntled investors.
Acceptance of the Pro has been growing, particularly since the third generation hit the shelves in summer 2014. By Q4 2014, two million Surface Pro 3s were bought by customers. The total sales figure is currently unavailable.
Coulling at Canalys said the recall "will not be great for margins or the overall profitability of the Surface category because there are cost implications, but as far as product recalls go, this is bound to be one of the easier ones."
Watching a software company – with the infrastructure of a software company – recall hardware products will be interesting. We'd love to hear how smooth that process proves to be. ®