In 2012, Microsoft announced and released the first Surfaces. These machines were not groundbreaking, they weren’t class leading. They had beautiful designs to be sure, but painfully slow hardware, awful keyboards, and non-existent app support meant that anyone who was buying them was in for a rough time. The Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 improved on this, with Microsoft even creating Surface Blades in the hopes that an accessory market would spring up around the Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2 respectively. Alas, the market cast its eye upon the Surface —and rejected it once more. With the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft finally hit its stride on the third try — and with the Surface Pro 2017, Microsoft has all but perfected that winning formula. But the Surface Pro doesn’t stand alone, it is a member of a family of PCs comparable with the best, including the likes of Acer, HP, and even Apple have to offer — and for Microsoft fans, that’s a good thing.
It’s important to note that the Surface Pro is no longer classed as a tablet. Much like Google and Android OEMs have realized, there is no tablet market. While Android and Windows tablet makers have tried to create a tablet market in the past, they have realized that the market that exists currently is one where there is the iPad and everyone else. In that vein, both sets of manufacturers have turned their eye elsewhere. Google and Android to the Chromebook, Microsoft back to what they know best: PCs.
Microsoft describes the Surface Pro as the “most versatile laptop”, and that is simply what it is. While the Surface Pro 3 took on the label of “tablet that can replace your laptop”, in reality, the Surface was a hobbled tablet that could be used in short bursts as a tablet, but couldn’t really replace a traditional tablet like the iPad especially due to its lack of tablet-focused apps. The Surface Pro drops this pretense and fully embraces its legacy as a laptop. Sure, it may not come with a keyboard or pen out of the box, but Microsoft knows you’re going to buy those anyway. This also helps drive down costs of producing several different colored SKUs so buyers can mix and match as they like. I for one purchased multiple Surface Type Covers with the Surface Pro 3, including one of the newer keyboard covers as well. I’m certain that many users will be glad for the chance to mix and match different keyboard or even retain their older keyboards from the Pro 4.
More crucially, with the launch of the new Surface Pro, Surface fans now have a mix of modern hardware to choose from. For users who intend on sticking to a traditional PC interface, there is the Surface Laptop. It’s just a boring old laptop. Sure it may be thin, light, durable, it may do whatever you want with reasonable speed, have a beautiful screen, but it is still just a laptop — and that’s appealing to many.
For power users who always value devices with a bit more “oomph”, Microsoft’s Surface Book has them covered. A powerful processor, a discreet GPU, 16GB of RAM and battery life that has been described as “class-leading” come together to make a device that has been critically appraised here. Similarly, the Surface Studio is an All-in-One PC with nearly as much oomph as the Book, It’s raison d’etre? Its big, beautiful touch enabled screen. For artistic endeavours, you have the Surface Dial and Surface Pen to aid you with creating either beautiful photos, or mixing music and the like. Much like the other Surfaces, the Surface Studio adds its own unique twist with a hinge that lets you fold it back like it was an easel, playing up its artistic talents.
The bottom line here is that, if you’ve wanted a Microsoft-branded PC, you now have three excellent ones in different form-factors. Microsoft’s Surface Pro was always a weird device. It combined two form-factors to make a third that was not quite one of the other, leading to people who would describe it as “Frankenstein-esque”, yet others still loved it. Similarly, Microsoft’s Surface Book combined the tablet and laptop form factor into another combination that was neither one nor the other. Some found this displeasing, but others loved it. The Surface Laptop is just a plain laptop, once more, others wept and gnashed their teeth, while others still salivated. If Microsoft were just selling one of these PCs, there might be cause for complaint. With all four being sold at once, everyone is satisfied. Even if they weren’t, HP or Dell with their similarly excellent PCs.
This is Windows after all, and choice is key.
You can purchase Microsoft’s Surface devices from the Store below.