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Microsoft Surface tablets knocked unconscious in AFC Championship match

Microsoft’s Surface tablet, part of a $400 million deal with the NFL, didn’t get the best coverage at the AFC Championship game between the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos over the weekend, after the main shots of the device showed NFL officials staring helplessly at ones that weren’t working. The malfunction happened during the first half of the game, when a networking issue took most of the Surface tablets offline.

It is the latest mishap in the high profile marketing campaign, which sadly happened to be broadcast to millions of football fans watching one of the most hyped games of the year.

Related: Paul Thurrott on Surface brand: ‘Microsoft, you’re f@#$ing up.’

Microsoft denied responsibility for the failure, saying in a statement “the issue was not related to the tablets themselves but rather an issue with the network.” It took NFL officials up to twenty minutes to fix all of the Surface tablet issues, and regardless of the fault, isn’t the kind of publicity Microsoft probably wants from the NFL tie-up.

It wraps up a rather disappointing year for the Surface provider, with NFL commentators referring to the tablet as an iPad at the start of the season — despite being told not to — and New York Giants offensive guard Geoff Schwartz saying on Twitter that the Surface tablets “always malfunction”. Microsoft also had an issue in early December, when the Dallas Cowboys were unable to use the tablets in a game against the Washington Redskins.

At least Microsoft has been able to indirectly show the toughness of the Surface tablet through quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, Johnny Manziel, and Jay Cutler, who all put the sturdiness of the tablet to the test. The story comes just days after Microsoft introduced premium versions of the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4, each with faster processors, more memory, and additional storage to make them attractive to power users.