Microsoft Surface Laptop: A Game Changer? I Asked Around – Forbes
Microsoft’s new Surface Laptop looks like a nice piece of hardware. But why did Microsoft make it?
Here’s what Microsoft said in its press release about the laptop that starts at $999: “To bring the streamlined performance, simplicity and security of Windows 10 S to university students, Microsoft is expanding the Surface family of devices with Surface Laptop.”
I asked some well-informed observers who tried to answer the question posed above — both about the laptop and its pairing with Microsoft’s new Windows 10 S, Microsoft’s answer to Google’s Chrome OS (Microsoft’s Windows 10 S FAQ here.) Note that few people, outside of Microsoft, have spent a lot of time with the laptop and reviews aren’t in yet.
Lisa Gade, Editor in Chief, Publisher and CEO of MobileTechReview: “Odd pairing.”
“I thought Windows S and the Surface Laptop are an odd pairing. My guess is that Microsoft is doing a marketing message: ‘Windows S is so capable that even a nice high end laptop can be useful when running Windows S.’ Personally, I don’t think we’re there yet, though for some folks a mix of app store apps and web-based apps like MS Office and Google Docs may be all they need.
“[But] since the hardware is high end and Win S doesn’t make the greatest deal of sense, they provide the ‘out’ with the upgrade to Windows 10 option.”
At just 2.7 pounds, Surface Laptop fits easily in your bag and includes a 7th Gen Intel Core processor to handle demanding desktop programs. Type comfortably with the soft palm rest, responsive keyboard, and large trackpad. And, enjoy immersive Dolby Audio Premium sound.
Gordon Mah Ung, Executive Editor, PC World: “Competitor to Apple products… aimed squarely at higher ed where I’d bet a box of 1TB SSDS no one is going to pass up on a ‘free’ Windows 10 Pro upgrade.”
“I have not seen one but on specs and pricing it’s more of a competitor to Apple products than anything from PC OEMs.
“By putting Windows 10 S on it from the factory, Microsoft seems to be trying to make it more akin to Google’s luxury Pixel chromebooks. I think Microsoft’s plan is to let PC OEMs take on Chrome OS in the sub $300 category with Win 10 S which, although confusing, makes a lot of sense for K-12 where manageability and cost are very important. A fleet of legacy Windows laptops isn’t fun to manage while a fleet of Chromebooks with the tightly controlled Chrome OS (and low cost) is super appealing.
“But yes, the Surface Laptop is unlikely to be deployed to a classroom of third-graders so they can smear PBJ on the Alcantara keyboard. It’s aimed squarely at higher ed where I’d bet a box of 1TB SSDS no one is going to pass up on a ‘free’ Windows 10 Pro upgrade. College students use iTunes, the Chrome browser (sorry Edge) and many other Win32 legacy apps so I see it mostly as a non-starter outside of a few universities that may experiment with it.
“So overall, Windows 10 S seems like a solid anti-Chrome OS strategy.”
Linn Huang, analyst at IDC: “Where the plot thickens for me is how this impacts Microsoft’s relationships with its OEM partners.”
“The hardware is very well designed and the specs are solid, particularly at the price of $999. There does seem to be a bit of a mismatch with Windows 10 S and the Surface Laptop’s premium, but I get where they are going. I think they mitigate some of the concerns around paying for a premium device that runs on Windows 10 S with the switching program, but the price tag compared to the OS will be a paradox for many.
“Cumulatively, the announcements were clearly intended at strengthening Microsoft’s portfolio of education-facing products. Chromebooks have continued to dominate U.S. K-12 and is starting to pick up traction in select pockets particularly in Western Europe. I don’t believe these moves will impede Chrome OS’s continued momentum in U.S. K-12 – at least not for the immediate future.
Where the plot thickens for me is how this impacts Microsoft’s relationships with its OEM partners. When the first Surface launched, Microsoft told partners they were not looking to compete and were only in it to drive up the fledgling detachables category. Today, they have a detachable, an AIO, and now a conventional notebook.”
Roger Kay. president Endpoint Technologies: “It’s aimed directly at the sweet spot on the product spectrum, the place where OEMs can still make money.”
“The new Surface bothers me because it [goes] after Microsoft’s partners’ business. Arguably, the original prodded partners to innovate. This one doesn’t have that excuse. It’s aimed directly at the sweet spot on the product spectrum, the place where OEMs can still make money. Meanwhile, Microsoft doesn’t really take care of end customers and still needs the OEMs to get to market. Better it makes reference designs and contributes them to the ecosystem.”