Last month, Microsoft held its annual event to announce their new products and developments. Over the last five years or so, these events have been rather dull. We mean no offence, but Microsoft doesn’t really have much to show by way of exciting new products.
But this year, things were very, very different. Microsoft finally decided that it would dive head first into laptop manufacturing themselves. So far Microsoft has busied themselves with manufacturing minor things; nothing groundbreaking as such. Their main focus has always been on getting their OS right first. And with Windows 10, they seem to be bang on track.
But what about hardware? Although Microsoft has made some contribution in this department (by way of a few phones, a couple of Surface tablets, etc.), they’ve never been taken all that seriously. But this year, presumably borrowing on Apple’s experience, they have launched a brand new laptop called the Surface Book.
Wait, Surface Book ? You mean, like the MacBook?
Well, you guessed it right. That’s exactly what Microsoft is going for. What better way to stake your claim to the throne than by challenging the reigning king? In fact, they even compared the two right there on the stage:
Is it any good?
We haven’t been able to get our hands on one of these, but the tech community is all praises for them. The specs speak for themselves:
Intel 6th Gen core i5 or i7 processor with a dedicated 1 GB GDDR5 NVIDIA GeForce graphics card. (Throw any PC game at the Surface Book and it will hit it out of the park)
8 GB or 16 GB RAM coupled with completely Solid State drives upto 1 TB will ensure that the system is always snappy and responsive.
Two USB 3.0 ports, card reader, Audio Jack and a Mini Display port – this is where the SurfaceBook really trumps the MacBook(s). The MacBook Air, and especially the recent ‘New MacBook’ (which has just one USB C-type port) lack even basic connections options, and carrying so many connectors all the time is too much of a hassle.
Laptop-cum-Tab: Most two in one devices are essentially tabs with attachable keyboards. But Microsoft insists that the Surface Book is in essence a laptop, with a detachable screen.
The new SurfaceConnect technology: Microsoft showed off its latest innovation called SurfaceConnect. By plugging the Surface Book into a small device called Surface Dock, you can essentially transform your Laptop into a full fledged PC.
The Dock boasts two high-definition video ports, a gigabit Ethernet port, four USB 3.0 ports, and an audio output. There will hardly be anything you want for after that.
Unlike Apple that uses Macintosh OS for Macs, iOS for iPhones and iPads and Watch OS for the Apple Watch, Microsoft uses one single Windows 10 OS that works across the Surface Tablets, the new Surface Book, all PCs, all Win 10 Phones and even the Microsoft (wearable) Band and Xbox One platforms.
What Microsoft’s “reinvention” of laptop means to the dying PC industry:
Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior VP, points out in this interview how the tech ecosystem today works. The “wearable” products try to minimise the number of times you have to look at your phone. The phone tries to minimise the use of your tablet, and the tablet hopes to eliminate the need for a laptop/pc.
Microsoft was pretty clear about how this is not just a new laptop, but instead a ‘complete reinvention of the concept (and capabilities) of a laptop. It is powerful, beautiful and focuses on features that actually enhance productivity.”
With the Surface Book, Windows is trying to reinvent the laptop market, and the economist in me cannot be more happy! Microsoft making a high-end laptop (that’s also very fashionable) is good news for the laptop industry because it spawns competition with Apple, which in turn will bolster fresh research and reduced prices.
So yes, it is so good to see Microsoft maturing; understanding it’s place in the market and actually building products that people will want and not just need.