New Microsoft video gives a glimpse of its secret Surface torture lab

When Microsoft first announced its Surface line of tablets, they made a big deal of how its VaporMG case and Gorilla Glass display made them more durable than other tablets on the market. Some owners of the Surface later showed how the tablet still worked even after falling off the top of a moving car.

Today, Microsoft released a new video that shows where the Surface tablets, and other Microsoft hardware products, are put through the wringer in a series of torture tests. The location for all of this mayhem is the Microsoft Reliability Lab and it is apparently one of the most secret places on the Microsoft campus at Redmond. Indeed, the glimpse outside the lab's building makes it look like a run down warehouse than a high tech testing center.

The video also shows a little of what goes inside the lab. Microsoft has between 3,000 to 3,500 different tests it can put a hardware device through, and the video shows Surface tablets being dropped, exposed to extreme temperatures and more. Our favorite test in the video shows a group of Surface tablets arranged as if they were bowling pins and then hit by a real bowling ball. In addition to Surface, the Reliability Lab also tests other Microsoft hardware products, including the Xbox console.

Source: Microsoft on YouTube

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12 Comments

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I like the way it lands face down on the final image... it's probably broken.

In all seriousness though, pretty cool place to work! I want a job there.

brent3000 said,
Whats strange, all this testing yet the logo on the back has trouble lasting 1 month of general use

I don't think Microsoft is testing the durability of the imprint logo. It's about making the Surface as durable compare to other devices.

Couple questions, they showed the Surface getting rained on and still working, so does that mean it's water-resistant. If so, I'm surprised they didn't advertise it as such, b/c that would have given it a leg-up over other tablets.

Also, I'm not sure why they need to have this building designated as a 'super-secret' building. All they are doing is damage testing, so why does that need to be 'secret'. The only reason I can see it being secret is so no one goes in and steals a surface that is supposed to be used for testing. But even then, they have logs to keep track of all of them.

Maybe prototype devices that the company doesn't want exposed go through here as well... Even Apple has a secret lab for testing their iPhone's antennae somewhere. They exposed its whereabouts during the whole "Antennae-Gate" incident.

It may be that the device can resist a certain amount of water exposure in certain places, but that Microsoft didn't want to commit a warranty against all types of water damage.

greensabath said,
Also, I'm not sure why they need to have this building designated as a 'super-secret' building. All they are doing is damage testing, so why does that need to be 'secret'. The only reason I can see it being secret is so no one goes in and steals a surface that is supposed to be used for testing. But even then, they have logs to keep track of all of them.

Watch the video again. They must perform these tests, find weaknesses, fix them, and ensure they are fixed (retesting again and again) before the units are shipped to customers. These means devices end up in these chambers more than a year before the design is finalized. Meaning prototypes of un-announced products are in there. That's why it's secret.

I do the same thing for work, but on the EMC/Regulations side.

greensabath said,
Couple questions, they showed the Surface getting rained on and still working, so does that mean it's water-resistant. If so, I'm surprised they didn't advertise it as such, b/c that would have given it a leg-up over other tablets.

There is testing to know what the unit can take then there is committing to what the unit can take. All devices can last in environments to a point, however its would not be recommended you stand in the rain and use your tablet, but Microsoft knows that the unit would be able to handle 'some' water and thus water damage would be a serious amount of water before the units effected

greensabath said,
Also, I'm not sure why they need to have this building designated as a 'super-secret' building. All they are doing is damage testing, so why does that need to be 'secret'. The only reason I can see it being secret is so no one goes in and steals a surface that is supposed to be used for testing. But even then, they have logs to keep track of all of them.

They test devices well before release, its more that people don't see/know about devices not yet in the market, ideally these would have been running their tests months or years before the tablet was even mentioned (Remember how well hidden the Surface was from the public?)

Like now they would have been testing the Xbox One for possibly 12 months and could very well be testing the Surface 2 inside there