Microsoft’s Surface line of hardware has created entirely new categories of PCs, such as the detachable tablet 2-in-1 that’s spawned a market of copycats, as well as the Surface Book with its tear-off display. Users love the machines for their performance, innovation, and overall designs — but many have suffered a host of issues surrounding battery life, sleep, and lately, flickering screens.
The company has worked hard to fix Surface issues, and even went so far as to apologize for some of the problems with a promise to do better. But was it sufficient? Consumer Reports thought Microsoft wasn’t doing enough, and the publication refused to endorse the Surface line last fall as a result. More recently, a group of Surface Pro 4 users banded together to get Microsoft’s attention over a specific issue, namely display flicker, creating a site dubbed Flickergate.com to highlight the problem.
Flickergate has done its job.
Microsoft announced on Friday that it will offer replacement Surface Pro 4s to anyone whose device is affected by screen flickering. Users will have three years from the original purchase date to exchange their Surface Pro 4. Microsoft said it should take five to eight business days for customers to receive their new devices. For more information, here’s how to reach the company’s customer service department.
If you head over to the Flickergate site, you’ll find numerous accounts of users whose Surface Pro 4 displays have exhibited the same problem. Visit the Reddit Surface subgroup and you’ll find more threads on the subject. Apparently, when the displays reach a certain high temperature, they start to flicker and become unusable. There are a number of videos demonstrating the problem, and we’ve included just one of them at the top of this story.
Adding insult to injury, the issue apparently often occurs after the original manufacturer’s warranty has ended, and Microsoft’s charge for replacing these machines is a hefty $800. Even worse, whether a machine is replaced within the warranty period or after the fee is paid, the replacement units eventually start suffering the same problem.
We reached out to Microsoft for a statement, and received the following statement from a spokesperson:
“We are aware that some customers have experienced a screen flicker on Surface Pro 4 and are monitoring the situation closely. Customers impacted by this should contact Microsoft support.”
So far, thousands of users have apparently complained of the issue. According to Flickergate.com, that number has now exceeded 2,000. If you’d like to lend your voice to the cause, you can click on the “Help us in raising our voice” button on the site to send a message of support and provide details of your similar issue.
Updated on May 12: Added information regarding Microsoft’s replacement program.