Get real, Microsoft: If the Surface Pro is a laptop, bundle it with a Type Cover – PCWorld

If Microsoft sold cars like it’s trying to sell its Surface Pro (2017), it would charge extra for wheels—and would be laughed out of the market. But Microsoft’s using this tactic to sell its new Windows tablet as a “laptop,” and we’re still trying to figure out why.

Microsoft’s Surface Pro is clearly a Windows tablet, just like its predecessor, the Surface Pro 4. Nevertheless, devices chief Panos Panay calls it a “laptop” no fewer than three times in his blog post, including the very first sentence. No “laptop” or notebook PC forgoes a keyboard, however, as the Surface Pro does. Long-time Surface fans may know that Microsoft charges $129 to $159 more for that accessory, but does the average buyer get it? That’s where the confusion starts.

surface pro store shot Mark Hachman / IDG

Microsoft’s product page suggests the Type Cover, Surface Pen, and Surface Mouse all come bundled with the new Surface Pro.

In fact, the whole thing smells faintly of a bait-and-switch. Consider the hero image on Microsoft’s Store page. Keyboard? Check. Mouse? Check. Pen? Check. Yet none of these peripherals are included with the Surface Pro, and purchasing all of them would cost you $340 more. In fact, three out of the four images associated with the Surface Pro include peripherals that are sold separately.

There’s an easy answer to this problem: Bundle the Type Cover with the Surface Pro—something that should have been done long ago.

Overselling the product

Microsoft’s insistence that the keyboard-less Surface Pro is a laptop brings to mind the “reality distortion field” that Apple’s former CEO, Steve Jobs, famously created around himself. Jobs used the sheer force of his personality to transform aluminum, plastic and glass into some of the most coveted objects in the world. Microsoft’s Panay, too, is blessed with the Jobs gift of showmanship, vividly describing why customers would want to shell out thousands of dollars for category-defining products.

In virtually every case, he’s succeeded: ushering in a new category of Windows tablets with the Surface Pro; designing a massive collaboration tool with the Surface Hub; and redefining the creative workspace and all-in-one PC with the Surface Studio. This time, though, he overshot. 

surface pro hero page IDG

The Surface Laptop includes a keyboard. But the Surface Pro, “the most versatile laptop,” does not? C’mon.

The reason appears to be marketing. According to Moor Insights analyst Patrick Moorhead, Microsoft wants to distance the Surface Pro from the struggling Windows tablet category. Aligning it with PCs wouldn’t have seemed much better when that market was in free-fall, but things have changed. IDC reported a slight uptick in PC sales during the first quarter, and HP saw sales growth in its PC and printer businesses. PCs have more life in them than they have in years—thanks, in part, to Microsoft.

Nevertheless, calling the Surface Pro a “laptop” makes no sense. Yesterday, I used my Surface Pro 4 to take notes on a conference call, and I’m typing this story on a Surface Book. On a desk, typing on the Surface Pro 4 feels similar to typing on the Surface Book. On a lap, the differences in “lapability” are stark. As well-designed as the Surface Pro 4’s kickstand is, it still digs into your thighs, and it simply doesn’t feel quite as stable as the Surface Book or any other traditional notebook does.


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