Microsoft Says Network to Blame for NFL Sunday Surface Snafu

 Chandler Jones #95 of the New England Patriots holds a Microsoft Surface tablet on the sideline in the third quarter against the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Jan. 24, 2016 in Denver, Colo.

Chandler Jones #95 of the New England Patriots holds a Microsoft Surface tablet on the sideline in the third quarter against the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Jan. 24, 2016 in Denver, Colo.

Photographer: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Microsoft Corp.’s Surface tablet hit the Big Time for all the wrong reasons over the weekend, when the devices stopped working in front of more than 50 million viewers at an NFL game.

The gadget has struggled to make a dent in a market where Apple Inc.'s iPad and Android-based tablets dominate. Windows marketing chief Yusuf Mehdi defended the performance of Surface tablets at the New England Patriots bench during the National Football League's AFC Championship game on Sunday.

"Microsoft Surfaces have not experienced a single failure in the two years they’ve been used on NFL sidelines," Mehdi wrote on a blog. "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."

In the three-year run of the software maker's $400 million deal with NFL and the two years in sideline use, Microsoft brand has often taken a beating, with sportcasters sometimes calling the devices iPads. Yet, when the Surfaces failed Sunday, commentators actually remembered that they were Microsoft products, and the meltdown was replayed endlessly in clips on social media.

But Mehdi isn't discouraged. He said Surface use continues to grow, citing testimonials by teams such as the Green Bay Packers. Even Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers throwing a Surface in frustration in November, and Johnny Manziel, Cleveland’s quarterback, smashing one against his head repeatedly after throwing an interception a month later, aren't enough to discourage Microsoft's cheery marketing veteran:

It’s "further evidence of two things: 1) players are getting information faster, even if they don’t always like what they see and 2) these devices were built to endure just about anything, even Johnny Manziel’s head."

The Patriots lost Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos.

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