Microsoft says USB Type-C isn’t ready for the mainstream, and they aren’t wrong

Microsoft’s recently introduced Surface Laptop isn’t the best laptop when it comes to ports: it only includes one USB Type-A port and no Type-C port. The fact that the Surface Laptop didn’t include any Type-C port disappointed some people a lot more than the single Type-A port did. One of the Surface Laptop prototypes even had two USB Type-C ports — but the final version didn’t include a single one of them.

In an interview with The Verge, Microsoft’s General Manager of Surface Engineering, Pete Kyriacou, was asked why the Surface Laptop didn’t include any USB Type-C port and he simply answered: “That came down to design and space.”

Kyriacou also explained why Microsoft decided to stay with its own Surface Connect connector rather than switching to Type-C. Comparing Type-C to the Surface Connect, Kyriacou said, “The magnetic attach has been huge, we have a closed docking scenario that lets us connect and then confidently have four USB ports, gigabit ethernet, obviously power, and then two external displays.”

Kyriacou also mentioned how Type-C cables can create some confusion for the end user, as the Type-C cables look identical despite having different capabilities. More importantly, he argued that not all Type-C cables can deliver the same power. Kyriacou said that users may use an underpowered Type-C charger to charge their Surface Laptop, and if that charger isn’t able to provide the required power, the user’s Surface Laptop might run out of charge — in which case the user may end up blaming Microsoft instead of the charger. “The brand is at stake,” Kyriacou said.

“I think it has a little ways to go before it goes totally mainstream,” Kyriacou added — and he isn’t wrong. Type-C is definitely going to be big in the future but it hasn’t taken off yet. It’ll take some more years until it’s fully mainstream as many daily gadgets used by consumers still use the classic Type-A cables and it will definitely be a while until all of our gadgets use Type-C. Even then, don’t be surprised if the next major Surface upgrades include Type-C ports.

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