iFixit's Surface Pro teardown shows repairs won't be easy

Even just cracking open the device was a challenge for iFixit

Although Microsoft likes to say the Surface Windows 8 Pro is a full-blown PC, it's not nearly as repairable as a typical laptop.

Electronics repair site iFixit has performed a teardown of the Surface Pro, and says fixing the device would not be an easy task. Microsoft's new hybrid earned a repairability score of 1 out of 10, meaning it's one of the most difficult devices to repair. (The Surface Windows RT earned a score of 4 out of 10.)

Even just cracking open the device was a challenge. iFixit says it spent an hour figuring out how to get inside -- a first for the company -- and eventually resorted to a heat gun and guitar picks to pry the display panel open. Once inside, iFixit found that the display was glued together with a tar-like substance.

After opening up the Surface, iFixit found some more headaches. There are 29 screws holding the motherboard assembly in place, and in total the Surface Windows 8 Pro has more than 90 screws inside.

Also, the Surface's 42 Wh battery is heavily glued to the back cover of the device. A warning on the battery says not to mess with it in any way, and not to remove it from the back cover. "This kind of planned obsolesce is completely unnecessary," iFixit said.

On the bright side, the Surface Pro's solid state drive is much easier to remove, so if you got the 64 GB model and ran out of storage, you might be able to upgrade. The problem is getting inside of the Surface Pro in the first place. As iFixit warns, unless you perform the opening procedure flawlessly, "chances are you'll shear one of the four cables surrounding the display perimeter."

iFixit has been vocal about difficult-to-repair gadgets before. Last year, chief executive Kyle Wiens wrote an editoriallamenting how Apple's MacBook Pro with Retina Display was too difficult to fix or hack, though he seemed to blame users more than Apple itself. "We have consistently voted for hardware that's thinner rather than upgradeable," Wiens wrote.

That appears to be a trend that Microsoft is quite willing to follow as it starts making its own hardware.

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Tags Windows 8iFixitMicrosofthardware systemsWindowssoftwaretabletsoperating systemsSurface

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Jared Newman

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