The Microsoft Surface Pro is just getting into its first week of consumer availability, and gadget repair blog iFixit has already cracked the case for a closer look at what makes the tablet/PC hybrid thing tick. The teardown reveals that Microsoft has essentially glued down anything that could be glued, making it incredibly difficult for a user to repair on their own – more difficult than Apple’s iPad, by iFixit’s standards.
The Surface Pro scored a 1 out of 10 for repairability, since just opening the tablet offers a high probability of completely cutting one of the four cables that surrounds the display, there’s adhesive on the battery and display keeping it stuck in, and the display assembly is incredibly hard to replace. There are also 90 screws scattered through the device’s interior, which iFixit says is exceptionally high for this kind of device.
By comparison, Apple’s latest fourth-generation iPad scored a 2 out of 10 in repairability when iFixit tore it to pieces back in November. That may not be much of an advantage, but it does show that while Apple gets a lot of slack for changing its designs to be less friendly to user-initiated aftermarket changes, the company isn’t alone in moving to designs that focus more on fitting as much as possible into as small a case as possible, rather than providing something users can fiddle with. The Surface RT, on the other hand, was more repairable than Apple’s iPad, so it’s a little disappointing to see the more expensive Pro version fail on that score.
It should be no surprise, given how much of an emphasis Microsoft put on the Surface Pro’s design and attention to fitting as much power as they could inside such a small space. But iFixit still takes away marks from Microsoft for doing things they feel are unnecessary to the space-saving nature of the design, including gluing the battery in, which they call “planned obsolescence” which is “completely unnecessary.”
A lot of people wondered what might be the role of OEMs once Microsoft started building its own PC hardware, but there’s clearly still room for them as producers of devices that appeal to hobbyists and tinkerers, who aren’t content to buy what’s essentially a sealed hardware platform only to upgrade again in two years’ time. The Surface Pro, with its fairly limited storage options and 4GB of RAM, would likely be a ripe candidate for aftermarket upgrades, so buyer beware if your plan was to crack the case and perform some at-home surgery down the road.