Microsoft responds to Surface network fumble at recent NFL game

Microsoft has issued a response to the controversy surrounding the recent outage of Surface tablets at a New England Patriots game. In its response, Microsoft confirms that the team indeed lost the ability to review plays in their game against the Denver Broncos due to a network issue. However, the company is quick to point out that, over the past two years, Surfaces have done their work on the sidelines without a single issue being reported. From Microsoft:

"Microsoft Surfaces have not experienced a single failure in the two years they've been used on NFL sidelines. In the past two years, Surfaces have supported nearly 100,000 minutes of sideline action, and in that time, not a single issue has been reported that is related to the tablet itself. On rare occasions like we saw on Sunday, the stadium has network issues that prevent the delivery of images to the Surface devices. In these cases, we work with the NFL to quickly troubleshoot possible network issues so we can get the photo imaging solution to proceed as normal."

The mention of 100,000 minutes without an issue is certainly an interesting stat in the rare response from Microsoft. Unfortunately for the Patriots, the network hiccup did leave the team at a slight disadvantage as the Broncos' Surfaces continued to work, allowing them to keep reviewing play footage.

Microsoft continues to note that its partnership with the NFL to provide Surfaces for reviewing play footage has been successful since its inception three years ago, with many teams reporting that they are more effective with quick access to full video footage, as opposed to the black-and-white play photos that were used prior to the Surface's introduction.

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Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

97 Comments
  • Enjoy the offseason Pats!
  • +928
  • Maybe if they add LTE, they'd have a backup network.
  • Let's see how quickly the rest of the tech media picks up and reports on this clarification. That Nilay Patel guy from The Verge says it was the Surface that broke. He updated his article but blamed the Surface on twitter. He refused to correct the misleading headline. If it were Google or Apple... Nevermind. We all know how the line goes.
  • 'Cause it's still cool to hate on Microsoft, right?
  • Surface > iCrap, Lagdrpoid tablets
  • Lagderp tablets
  • If it comes down to a surface pro, then maybe more should be invested in sideline tech, so there are fallbacks. I think the players get the result not the laptop
  • Embed hololens technology into the helmets.
  • The XFL had camera and microphones in the players helmets. And was able to review it on the fly.
  • Imagine coaches showing their players the tactics through hololens (for example, project holograms to show the movement they want them to do). Wouldn't that be awesome?
  • Imagine a future hololens capable of computing distance and speed of your target so that you will know where to intercept that target, or for a quarterback to know where to throw the ball for the receiver to make the catch. Yeah, QBs are supposed to be able to do that already, but a defender's hololens may pick up the ball coming his direction, so he'll know to be ready to block, deflect the pass, or try for the interception. Hololens not quite capable of that yet, but a few iterations down the road it could get interesting.
  • This would be terrible.  Their decision making on the playing field is what sets them apart and is inherent in a person's athletic ability.
  • The fallback is going back to printouts. The system has been in place since the Surfaces were first used. Not sure why the Pats didn't switch back until the issue was fixed.
  • They didn't switch back because ...ALIENS.
  • I bet the network admin was like oh sh*t shouldn't have changes the network settings during the game...
  • "100,00"
    One hundred hundred
  • It's a mistake 100,000 as you can see in the quote.
  • Excuses excuses on the Pats part..:)
  • Yeah, and wasn't it only for a play or two, them they plugged them in.
  • Yep, or maybe it's just karma from them cheating all the time.
  • or a hacker..
  • Yeah, I think it was one defensive play they didn't have it. F the Pats
  • LOL the Pats shut down the wrong network, they meant to shut down the Broncos.
  • Oh snap, good one, lol. Posted via.........deez nutz!!!!!!
  • Hahaha
  • LOL
  • The only reason this is an issue is the reporter went out of his way to mention "Microsoft Surface Tablets." I question whether he would have been as anxious to identify an "Apple iPad Pro."
  • Yeah, my girlfriend pointed out that when they're working they call them iPads, there first hiccup and now they get it right. Even making it a point to say Microsoft Surface each time during that footage.
  • Damn that long term memory...
  • This... All season long it was ipads for the commentators. But after the hiccup the whole world now knows that it's surface pros. Free marketing for MSFT everywhere. Good thing. Take the good with the bad.
  • Yes this exactly. They kept saying iPad all along until the one time, years later that they don't even actually malfunction, and they blame them.
  • Every NFL game I've seen the last ~2 years they were properly referenced as Surface Tablets when they were brought up. I don't think there was a hidden agenda here... Posted via the Note 4/Nexus 7 (2013)/Lumia 1020/Lumia 2520
  • You've missed the headlines then where they have called them iPads. I've actually never heard them called Surface at all, usually they don't discus them. Heard them called iPad 3 times on air.
  • "SLIGHT disadvantage"... Ok ok
  • Legit. They clearly needed a picture of the field goal.
  • Yea, notice that too. New England's head coach Tom Belichek said it didn't affect them at all. (Besides being a short time, weren't they able to plug in for signal?)
  • *Bill Belichick
  • But ARM based tablets are far more reliable, and don't crash due to "network" problems. The Commentators clearly stated these as being Microsoft Surface devices, against their favoured iPads. The Surface Brand now represents poor reliability low quality products. Ditch the Surface Brand now.
  • The surface didn't crash. The network did... Unfortunately there are quite a few people out there like you that have limited knowledge of how these things actually work.
  • Like defibrillators.
  • I'm certain that this person is being sarcastic. Your taking them seriously makes them a troll. A successful one at that.
  • I was being sarcastic/joking. I don't know what the hell is wrong with the other folks.
  • Arm devices need network connectivity, no different than X86. Nothing crashed dude.
  • Technically if your iPhone 6s or google nexus can't load Facebook or safari and you can't make a call that's called a network issue. Your device did not crash.. the network part of does not work. So your statement is inaccurate. If Verizon network goes down every customer in my area would come to my store wondering why. They won't go to apple or Samsung. They come to the network provider.
  • Ditch the surface brand..?? LOL! Ditch your name cause its gonna be associated from now with that lame ass statement you jst made... :D
  • Lol.
  • internet sarcasm? clearly
  • @Jules Dude: You're stuck on this!!! Here and on other threads. The Surface did not crash.
  • This is troll country!
  • Go troll somewhere else.
  • Well their choice of nic manufacturer for this & the external 360 N adapters suck(though it can also fall on the changes the made to ndis since 8.1)
  • Wow you really lack the reading comprehension aren't you..
  • I think the NFL should have allowed the Patriots to let a little air out of the ball while the Surfaces were unavailable. Even things out, if you will.
  • Lol!
  • Awesome reply
  • At&t strikes again...
  • What does AT&T have to do with this? They weren't using Lumia 950s, they were using Surface Pros which don't have cellular technology embedded. Besides, this was a problem with their INTERNAL network, not anything to do with ANY cellular network or the external network providers which In Denver, by they way, are Comcast and Centurylink. And since Mile High Stadium has a contract with Comcast, they would have been to blame IF the external provider caused an issue. However, they did not. They had an issue with their WiFi network. That's it.
  • It's crazy, man. People like to hate based on nothing or misinformation. Look at the GOP polls... Scary world we are in anymore.
  • I agree with everything you said, but it's possible that AT&T was the network partner in this case.  I haven't heard the partner named yet.  While consumers think of AT&T as a phone/cellular provider, they are also a telecom that provides infrastructure (both internal LAN and external WAN) to large corporate customers.  For example, my company uses leased AT&T fiber optic lines to connect many of our branches.  We are also starting a project to add redundant connections from another provider to all sites because many of the AT&T connections have been pretty unreliable. 
  • Funny, we just started a project for carrier diversity because Verizon sucks so bad...... We chose att
    0_0 Posted via.........deez nutz!!!!!!
  • Donald Trump... *shivers*
  • What aschettler said!!! It was one of two private NFL networks.
  • Now now now. Let's not confuse the issue by stating facts.
  • Or sprite
  • What is also never mentioned is that the wired connection continued to work. That's why Denver was allowed to continue using their tablets. New England was simply forced to plug their surfaces into the network to receive the images and video instead of wireless. There was very little advantage in the whole situation.
  • Technically they were allowed to keep using per nfl rules because both sides were working at kickoff. But yes, after one snap they were plugged in.
  • Xsled is correct. Since they both worked at game start, neither has to give up their digital goodies in the case of a malfunction in the other side. I think it would be difficult to regulate several team members using tablets or not just because the other reported a malfunction. Talk about a delay of game... I saw a post earlier in this section that said New England accidentally **** down the wrong network hahaha. I'm gonna choose to believe that's what happened!
  • You could be right, but I thought I read they had two private networks, one on each sideline. And yes, either side could plug in.
  • There were two private networks. What delesh meant was that's why Denver was *permitted* to keep using theirs, not why they were *able* to.
  • Well... We don't use any gadgets on football and there's no such problems.
    Maybe American HandEgg players should start concerning themselves with playing well instead of trying to blame gadgets. The Surface won't play the game for them. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Yes, European football players use tech/gadgets. They wear gear that has sensors bult into them so the coaches can see in real time how long a player has been on the field and how their performance has been degrading just to name a couple things. Those stats are read on a tablet as well. Sometimes there are even balls with the sensors inside of them.
  • I have balls with sensors inside of them.
  • Actually, no. They don't use any of that. You won't find a single football coach with a tablet in their hands during a game and players aren't even allowed watches or bands let alone sensors. And no, there are no sensors built into shirts or shorts, neither into the trainers or the shin pads. All that you described was either a fever dream of yours or just some plans clubs would like to introduce but haven't. Heck, FIFA doesn't even jump on board goal-line technology, let alone allow players to use sensors during the games. But most important, no one will ever blame a tablet for a team's inaptitude to play or win a game.
  • Soccer, there fixed it for you.
  • No one on either football team or at the league said the network disruption effected the team's game
  • Very true. It's the media running with the brief issue. In the end the tablets are working just as expected without an issue since the program was started.
  • Looks like I mistakenly thought it was soccer/football globally that was going to use the Adidas tech. The articles below are from 2012. I would be surprised if Europeean football teams aren't using this tech at practices to see how they perform and where they can improve. Team owners and coaches love stats. sensor ball Adidas miCoach sensor tech MLS is using this tech: article 1 article 2
  • Must upvote for DJCBS' use of the word "HandEgg".  I think this is only the second time that I've been in agreement with one of DJCBS' posts.  :p
  • And, of course, the MS haters will say "Windows... what else could you expect?"
  • Windows. What else would you expect. Failing at inopportune time since 1985. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • God forbid they comment on their SP4 / SB kerfuffle...
  • Funny, because I have to use ipads at work for all our customer transactions, and they're CONSTANTLY having issues - issues NOT related to their network connection. But thats okay, right, since its an Apple product, even if they're garbage, they're still considered a superior product. What a crock!
  • Preach it!
  • @trev tyson, no tablet is infallible. At work we use Samsung tab 3's or ipads and time to time they fail. For instance yesterday, my colleagues iPad died... Literally just died in the middle of a close too. So another colleague steps in with her tab 3, which also decides to join the iPad on vacation as it kept constantly turning off. My tab 3, was fine however so three people - 1 tablet. Needless to say we didn't make the days target.
  • Its ok because those surfaces are just ipads!!! ( for any who remember that bit.) Hahaha, also its ok cause the patriots lost. ;-)
  • Right. So, it's the Surface device that caused Brady to throw two interceptions? It's the Surface that allowed Von Miller to sack Brady? To miss that two point conversion at the end of the game? To miss that PAT after their first touchdown? People (especially Pats fans) need to come off it, and say that NE just lost.
  • Remember when people played the game and zero tech was involved?
  • People reporting that the tablets were at fault are idiots. End of story.
  • Microsoft should not have to respond to this.  CBS/NFL should be responding because Microsoft is paying them big bucks to sponsor their event in return for promoting their devices.  They not only got their name wrong once, but they also blamed the Surface for the problem (even though the guy was unknowedable of the issue).  CBS/NFL should be the one making a statement AND an appology to Microsoft since they are their major sponsor.
  • Agreed.
  • Surface gate, deflate gate....
  • Network problems.  Was not the fault of the Surface devices on the sideline. That was the 5th straight AFC title game appearance for the Pats.  And guess what ?  They'll be right back there again next year. Peyton is going to run into another buzzshaw.  (Super Bowl 48)
  • "That was the 5th straight AFC title game appearance for the Pats.  And guess what ?  They'll be right back there again next year." ...Don't say cruel things...  
  • "Microsoft has issued a response to the faux  controversy surrounding the recent outage of Surface tablets at a New England Patriots game." There, I fixed that lede for you.  
  • They'll find anything to blame Microsoft
  • Haters gonna hate