The typical support lifecycle for a tablet seems to be around two and a half years if you ask Apple; or until you reach the parking lot if you buy from an Android OEM. When Microsoft released the Surface last month we had no reason to believe they would be pushing for anything different, but then again, they want you to believe its more laptop than tablet right? Microsoft has finally professed their support intentions for the Surface, and we are cautiously optimistic they are moving the bar forward.
According to Microsoft ZDNet blogger extraordinaire Ed Bott, the Surface RT will receive software updates and security fixes for four and a half years after the products initial release, or to be more precise, April 11th 2017.
Microsoft's current policies offer "a minimum of ... four years Mainstream Support for Consumer Hardware products."
During the Mainstream Support phase, "Hardware repairs or replacements and parts are available throughout the support lifecycle. Services are free for products under warranty and available for a fee for products out of warranty. ... Updates are available for the software/firmware and OS that is embedded into the hardware (except for Surface devices, which is covered by the support lifecycle policy for the Operating System on the device)."
Additional details are available in this FAQ, which notes: "For Surface devices, any Surface software installed, embedded or downloaded on the device is subject to the software lifecycle support policy for that software (unlike other HW devices such as Xbox). ... The hardware support lifecycle policy applies only to the Surface hardware (and as stated above not the Surface software). For Surface devices, that policy affects only the tablet device and hardware based accessories (and for example not to soft goods accessories such as cases)."
While it’s easy to say that 4 years of support has both Apple and Android beat and move on, we aren’t ready to declare this a win for consumers just yet. While we fully expect Microsoft to live up to their promise and offer security fixes for the full support period, will Surface RT customers receive major updates? What about Windows 9? It might be easier to give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt if they didn’t cut and run on Windows Phone 7 quite so early. How about our Windows Vista Ultimate Extras?
Let us know what you think Microsoft will do in the comments below.