Is Microsoft Customer Service Good? 2017 Rating

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Last year, Microsoft made its debut on Laptop Mag's Tech Support Showdown and had a fine first showing, finishing in second place behind only Apple. Since then, Microsoft has added a new virtual agent to its website, which attempts to be an initial avenue of support before customers talk to a real person.

Microsoft Tech Support
Overall Web Score Phone Score Avg Call Time Phone Number Web Support
82/100 48/60 34/40 21:20 800-936-3500 Link
Phone Hours (ET): 24/7

One characteristic that separates Microsoft from some of its competitors is its willingness to tackle both hardware and OS problems. Many original equipment manufacturers refuse to answer Windows 10 questions, but because Microsoft makes the operating system, its company reps are happy to talk about it.

tss 2017 report card microsoft

To test Microsoft's support prowess, I used a Surface Book and asked three different questions across three channels: phone, web and social media: how to change the Surface Pen to left-handed mode, how to change what the pen buttons do and how to stop my computer from asking for a password when it wakes from sleep.

Web and Social

First up was social media. There are two main places where Surface Pro and Surface Book owners can contact the company’s support team via social media: Microsoft's @SurfaceSupport Twitter account, and Microsoft's verified Surface page on Facebook. There is a more general Facebook page for Microsoft as a whole, but you can't send the company direct messages there. 


The @SurfaceSupport team on Twitter was fairly responsive when answering my question about switching the Surface Pen to left-handed mode. The company replied in less than 3 hours with a succinct, two-part tweet featuring accurate and easy-to-follow instructions. While it wasn't the lighting-fast 15-minute response time we got in 2015/2016, in our eyes, the relatively quick turnaround and simple instructions were more than sufficient.

Microsoft-Facebook-Support_resizedOn Facebook, I sent the Surface team a question over Messenger asking how to change what the Surface Pen buttons do at 3:30 p.m. ET. After waiting nearly 24 hours, I sent a second message, and a few hours later, the company sent me a link to a post on Windows Central (a site that isn't affiliated with Microsoft) with pertinent instructions on how to resolve our issue.

In the end, we got our answers, but the bigger kudos should probably go to Windows Central for helping Microsoft's support do its job.

Web and Chat Support

If you prefer to solve tech issues by going straight to the source, you can always head over to and click the big Support tab at the top of the page. This will bring you to a page where you can search for answers for Microsoft's ever-growing portfolio of products. However, using this tool, I found an answer to only one of my questions pertaining to changing the Surface Pen button actions.

Microsoft-Tech-Support-Virtual-Agent-Bad-Answer-for-Pen-Support_rsMoreover, Microsoft’s AI was unable to answer any of my three test questions, no matter how many times I rephrased the queries. Often, the virtual agent would respond with topics that were somewhat related but not actually helpful in resolving my issue. Thankfully, right or wrong, every response from the AI was also accompanied by a link asking if I wanted to talk to a real person, which made it quite easy to transition from automated to live support.

After clicking the link to switch to live support, I was instantly connected to a tech support rep named Moumon P., located in the Philippines. Moumon then proceeded to check out my earlier query to the virtual assistant. He attempted to answer my question about turning off the password login screen after coming back from the screensaver.

The first thing Moumon did was ask if he could access my computer remotely. After I declined, he paused for 5 minutes to look up an answer before providing me with a quick set of instructions, which was missing a critical step. After I described my difficulties, Moumon sent me a more detailed procedure that put me on the right track, and after a few short minutes, I was able to turn off the nagging password login without a problem. The chat took 20 minutes in total.

Phone Support

There are two ways to contact Microsoft support: filling out a web form to get a call back, or dialing Sales and Partner Information at 800-936-3500.

After I called the 800 number, I was connected to a rep named Dayvis, also in the Philippines. I asked Dayvis how to disable the password prompt from appearing when my computer wakes up. After taking over my desktop, he almost nailed it right away by opening the Windows 10 settings menu and navigating to the Lock-Screen Options menu. Unfortunately, from there, he opened the Screen Timeout Settings instead of the Screensaver Settings, leading to a dead end.

tss 2017 bar chart v2 3071161489010994.2 3071161489010994
Next, Dayvis started over from the beginning, and after a couple more minutes of trying various options, he found his way back to the screensaver settings. It could have ended there, but instead, when the computer would not go to sleep (because of the remote access software he was running), he decided to perform a series of unrelated and unhelpful tasks, including turning on system-wide BitLocker encryption, disabling password sign-on for all user accounts and changing what the power button does. After 45 minutes, I suggested that the remote-access software could be the problem, and after he logged off of my Surface Book, the system did go to sleep.

After that mess, my second call went much more smoothly. This time, I went through Microsoft's support page, filled out important info, and provided my phone number and a quick description about what kind of problem I was having. (This time, I was looking to set the Surface Pen to left-handed mode.)

A robot dialer called me back almost immediately, though I had to wait 6 minutes for a rep, named Ivy, to pick up. Though I denied her request to log in to my machine, it took almost no time for her to talk me through the steps to find the correct settings, and within 11 minutes from the start of the call, we were done.

For my third and final call, I went through Microsoft's support website during the evening. Once again, I was called back immediately, but this time, I didn't have wait to be connected to a support agent. After confirming my problem, he expertly instructed me to search for the Surface app in the search box, and helped me find where I needed to go to adjust which apps get opened when I press buttons on my Surface Pen. Then, he ran through the steps again just to make sure I knew the proper steps, and in less than 10 minutes, the call was over.


For U.S. buyers, Microsoft’s products come with a standard one-year warranty that includes tech support and covers the costs for return shipping in the case of a broken or defective part. Customers can also purchase additional coverage, including 1-on-1 training and accidental damage protection, through Microsoft Complete ($149), which covers your device from things like drops or spills for two years from the date of purchase.

However, because the Surface Pro and the Surface Book are not designed to be serviced by customers, you will void your warranty if you replace parts, such as the solid-state drive.

Bottom Line

Although my 45-minute call wasn't the best experience and raised Microsoft's average call time from 15:30 in 2016 to 21:20 in 2017, every time I reached out to Microsoft for support, the company's support representative came back with correct answers. And when I talked with support agents in real time, most even went so far as to run through the steps multiple times to make sure things were all set, even though that did end up causing issues during my first call.

The new virtual assistant is a nice idea, but its inability to recognize questions and come back with relevant solutions makes it relatively useless. Overall, Microsoft's Twitter, web and phone support channels will benefit the company’s customers, as support reps there delivered accurate responses every time we tested them. And if Microsoft can continue to expand its services and improve its virtual assistant, there's a clear path for even better support in the future.


Tech Support Showdown

Author Bio
Sam Rutherford
Sam Rutherford,
Sam is a former penguin trainer and archery instructor who dabbles in esports and has lived on three different continents. If you have some comments on new tech or the best noodle spots in NYC, drop a line @SamRutherford.
Sam Rutherford, on
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  • L.Radix Says:

    What a load of crap this is. Let me tell you about my experience, which will illustrate Microsoft's lack of care, support and professionalism.

    Enjoy my suffering.

    I sent my Microsoft Surface Book to America from Japan (where I’m currently residing) on the recommendation of Microsoft online staff, as the staff could not repair the technical issues I was having. I was having issues with the hardware, nothing else. That's important to remember.

    I sent my laptop under the instruction of Microsoft to an address provided by Microsoft and insured my parcel with tracking to the cost of £50.

    My parcel was delivered to America on the 12th of January, but for two weeks Microsoft tracking showed that they did NOT have my laptop in their possession. I emailed countless times to find a resolve, but Microsoft staff consistently ignored my emails and had been reluctant to help me locate my parcel.

    After launching an investigation here in Japan with JP post, it was brought to my attention that Microsoft did indeed have my parcel, and it was in fact signed for by an agent to Microsoft on the 12th of January.

    With the knowledge that Microsoft had indeed had my laptop this entire time, I reached out again via email, but to no avail, I then made an attempt to publically 'call them out' via Instagram in hopes of getting their attention, to which they replied along the lines of, “message us through direct messaging and we’ll help you”, but again, I messaged them as they requested, forwarded all the relevant numbers and codes and even attached screen shots, and yet again, they too had not replied.

    I have opened Reddit forums, I have opened a Resolver case, I have messaged Microsoft employees on LinkedIn, and I have emailed countless times via the support website, but no one replies.

    I checked Microsoft tracking nearly two weeks later, and within 1 day, they received my parcel, repaired my laptop, dispatched my laptop to Japan and that I had received my laptop. I can confirm, categorically, that I DID NOT have my laptop.

    I once again emailed Microsoft but they did not reply.

    The member of Microsoft staff whom I’ve been in contact with, has been nothing but unhelpful, has consistently ignored my emails, and when he has responded, has replied with scripted and unrelated ‘text’.

    Suddenly, after being ignored for weeks, I received an email from Microsoft Japan on the 26th of January informing me that my laptop was being sent to them for repairs for a damaged screen. I never had a damaged screen.

    Most importantly, I was given a service request number by Microsoft prior to me sending my parcel to America. I have evidence of this. This is a key point.

    After two weeks or more of chasing Microsoft and having no help, it has been returned to me UNREPAIRED because as stated by Microsoft, "There was no service request for this device"

    To sum up, I'm down £50 in postage fees, I still have a broken laptop, I still can't work, and Microsoft is ignoring me. I still have a year on my warranty.

    I need urgency from Microsoft because as a writer, I’m unemployed without a laptop. I am losing work, therefore, losing money. I have a backup laptop, which is a Microsoft surface too and that’s also broken.

    So either you're lucky, lying, or in Microsoft's pocket.

  • John H Says:

    I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER TO WANDER FROM APPLE AND PURCHASE THE MICROSOFT SURFACE PRO! I recently inside of 2 weeks purchased the Surface Pro thru Best Buy. I needed Microsoft Office and told the sales person I wanted to purchase Office 365. The Best Buy salesperson was adamant that I should not sign up for a subscription service and I should purchase Office Home & Business 2016. He said he did not like software subscriptions and that Offie Home & Business as the best choice. I trusted his recommendation and purchased Microsoft Office Home & Business 2016 for $$209.99. Upon further review Office 365 would absolutely serve me better (additional storage for One Drive, updates, ability to use office programs on mobile devices, etc.). I returned to Best Buy and informed the store's management about being mislead by the sales agent. The bottom line is they could or wold not help me since the software had been loaded onto Surface Pro. There comment was that Microsoft would not give them credit because the software had been loaded onto my device. I was told by Best Buy to give Microsoft a call and see if they could authorize Best Buy to provide me credit for the software, and have Microsoft de-activate the software on my Surface Pro, and then Microsoft would cover the return from Best Buy. I then would purchase the monthly Office 365 subscription.

    Upon contacting Microsoft I was told by a sales person (Sherine) that there was nothing they could do because I had purchased the software from a third party vendor and she cut me off. I asked her if there was a supervisor that worked with third party vendors that I could speak to and she said no and Microsoft could not help me. I get it that Microsoft can't directly give me a credit but you could work with your partner Best Buy to allow me to purchase the software I originally had asked for and is best for my needs. MY BIGGEST HESITATION ABOUT PURCHASING THE SURFACE PRO OVER THE IPAD PRO WAS THAT I WOULD NOT GET THE EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE THAT APPLE HAS ALWAYS PROVIDED ME OVER THE LAST 10 YEARS SINCE I SWITCHED FROM MICROSOFT AND PC. WELL MY FEAR CAME TO LIFE. I MADE A MISTAKE LEAVING APPLE. EVEN THOUGH I AM GOING TO BE STUCK WITH THE $210 I SPNET ON OFFICE I AM AN ELITE MEMBER WITH BEST BUY AND WILL BE RETURNING THE SURFACE PRO AND WILL GO TO AN APPLE STORE AND PURCHASE THE IPAD PRO.

  • Jeremy Roe Says:

    I have just spent a couple of hours trying to re-enter my Skype account. Microsoft who apparently own Skype have wholly failed to assist. There automated service to re-enter your account has wholly failed to assist and Microsoft appear to have binned all telephone contacts from frustrated customers. Lousy service.,

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