Microsoft plans to recall power cables for previous-generation Surface Pro tablets. The cords can overheat and pose fire hazard, according to reports. While Microsoft recalls millions of cables, the company insists that only a very small number of them can actually be dangerous.

Power cables of Surface Pro, Surface Pro 2 and Surface Pro 3 are vulnerable to overheating and could pose a fire hazard after they are sharply or repeatedly bent or tightly wrapped, according to Microsoft. Microsoft did not name the supplier of the power cords it shipped for about three years. The potentially dangerous cables look like regular power cords used with variety of notebook PSUs. Such cables are not very bendable and, as it appears, can be damaged. Fortunately, they are detachable and users, who want to replace their cables now, can do so without waiting for Microsoft.

On Wednesday the company confirmed to ZDNet that the recall will be taking place, and will officially issue a statement on the matter of Surface Pro power cables early on Friday. The voluntary recall will be applied to all devices sold before mid-July, 2015, worldwide. Eligible customers wishing to get a replacement will have to order it via a special web-site. Microsoft plans to advice customers to stop using potentially dangerous power cords and to dispose of them in accordance with local regulations.


Microsoft Surface Pro charger is on the left side of the picture.

Microsoft’s Surface (non-Pro) slates as well as the latest Surface Pro 4 tablets are not affected, the software giant said, reports Channelnomics.eu.

The first-generation Surface Pro was introduced along with the Windows 8 operating system in October, 2012. It became available in early 2013 and was replaced by the Surface Pro 2 later that year. The third-generation Surface Pro hit the market in mid-2014. To date, Microsoft has sold millions of its slates, which it positions as notebook replacement tablets.

Many power cords should not be bent or wrapped too tightly because they can be damaged this way. Some companies try to use softer cables and/or equip their cables with some form of cable management. Unfortunately, power cords of Microsoft Surface Pro only come with a tiny hook.

Keeping in mind that so far, there have been no reports about overheating cables or PSUs of Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablets, the cables should be generally safe to use. Nonetheless, it is somewhat sad that Microsoft has not discovered the potential issue earlier.

Update: Owners can get a new cord from Microsoft from this link:

https://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-ca/support/warranty-service-and-recovery/powercord

Source: Channelnomics.eu

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  • Daniel Egger - Thursday, January 21, 2016 - link

    The PSU they shipped with the Surface RT also sucks badly. There's plenty of stray voltage coming over the magnetic connector which is directly fed into metal case to deliver a nice tingle when touching and a sparkle when connecting. However I've a feeling they don't give a crap about that... Reply
  • ericloewe - Thursday, January 21, 2016 - link

    That problem has been going on since the original models were released. The Surface Pro did it, I assume the Surface Pro 2 did it and the Surface Pro 3 sure as hell does it too. Reply
  • NonSequitor - Thursday, January 21, 2016 - link

    There has not been a single report of that in our Surface Pro 3 deployment, nor have I experienced it with my person device. It is possible that the problem requires bad building wiring, or was corrected with the 3 design change. Reply
  • nagi603 - Thursday, January 21, 2016 - link

    I've never seen any sparking with my SP2, but the tingle is there. As with about 99% of metal case laptops I've reviewed when I was working as a tech journalist. Reply
  • Daniel Egger - Friday, January 22, 2016 - link

    Any gear which has a grounded PSU should not any stray voltage on the case. Both the MBP and the ZenBook here are completely fine in that regard when using a 3-prong plug, if not then they're still fine on their own but there will be a potential difference if you touch both of them at the same time causing tingle.

    The Surface RT (although connected using a 3-prong plug) always causes tingle on it's own. It's actually so bad that moving the finger over the metal surface makes it feel like rubber which I haven't seen/felt in any other device. Hence I'm only able to use it on a grounded metal surface when plugged in or disconnected. Quite possibly the forced grounding is also the reason for the sparking.
    Reply
  • Alexvrb - Saturday, January 23, 2016 - link

    Yikes I never had this issue. The only complaint I had is that sometimes it's a little tricky to get it to click in place just right, particularly in low-light conditions. I attribute that to the angle of the edges more than anything. Reply
  • BurntMyBacon - Thursday, January 21, 2016 - link

    High profile device.
    Out for several years.
    No high profile media coverage prior to Microsoft making the decision to recall.
    Reasonable (though not accurate) assumption that damage could have been caused by abuse / misuse.

    I can think of at least one ;'/ company that would not have bothered to recall in this circumstance. I'm going to give Microsoft full points on this one. Nobody called them out on it. Even if someone had, there is a believable (not to be confused with accurate) line of thought that suggests they are not responsible. They could have let this one slide and it is unlikely that it would have "surfaced". Kudos to them for fixing it of their own volition. (Even if only to maintain the perception of a premium product)
    Reply
  • basroil - Thursday, January 21, 2016 - link

    Damage can be caused with minimal use, it's just an inherently bad cable design.

    That said, Microsoft already replaced these bricks for free (and let you keep the defective one) before this announcement, regardless of the warranty status, so they are definitely cool in my book (even with one brick already having to be replaced)
    Reply
  • Murloc - Thursday, January 21, 2016 - link

    most people will not actually hear about this anyway. Reply
  • basroil - Thursday, January 21, 2016 - link

    "Keeping in mind that so far, there have been no reports about overheating cables or PSUs of Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablets, the cables should be generally safe to use"

    Says who? If you give me shipping fees I'll send you a defective power supply that overheats at the plug!

    The main issue is a very stupid connector design, which is basically a loose cable inside the connector housing. It's not mechanically limited, and can actually cause the shielding (which is likely also live ground) to become exposed and possibly some of the internal cables to disconnect as well.
    Reply

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