Microsoft’s new Surface Book reinvents the laptop

22 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Google, Microsoft, and Apple: Who’s winning?.

Yet I expect lots of folks to drool over the beautiful and fast new Microsoft Surface Book, the company’s powerhouse of a notebook that aims to give Apple’s MacBook Pro a run for its money.

With the new Surface Pro 4, typing on a Microsoft tablet finally feels like typing on a regular laptop. (Mark Van Holden/Microsoft via AP) Although Microsoft has tried hard to sell the Surface as a laptop replacement, its keyboard has felt flimsy — something to tolerate when a real laptop isn’t available. At, you learn that the company isn’t expected to ship the entry level $1,499 Surface Book configuration (Intel Core i5, 128GB of storage, 8GB of memory) for four to five weeks.

Rao’s post: “Switch to Google Apps now and don’t double pay.” The blog post is not the first in a quiet campaign against Google’s biggest corporate office competitor: Microsoft. The application it’s offering is exclusively for corporate users already subscribed to Microsoft Office 365, which charges its clients between $5 and $13 a month.

Google is offering users the chance to subscribe to its product for free. “There’s a new way of working,” Rao adds, “And we think that once you see Docs and the rest of Google Apps for Work in action, you’ll never want to go back. But unlike typical laptops, which put all the computing guts under the keyboard, most of the Surface Book’s computing power happens behind its screen. — You can hold down a button to separate the screen from its base, transforming the Surface Book into a surprisingly lightweight and very powerful tablet. But, after Apple won the driver’s seat (its market capital is more than $670 billion more than the other two), Google versus Microsoft has become a more relevant competition. According to Forbes’s Gordon Kelly, “Microsoft is the new Google, Google the old Microsoft.” Earlier this year, Google’s market share dipped to its lowest point in seven years.

To release the keyboard, you must press a key on the upper row of keys and wait a moment or so for a green light, or an alert to appear on the screen. That would have been fine, but I also forgot that I didn’t have a spare Surface Book charger at home, so my battery testing became a bit more real that day than I had hoped. Samsung’s Note devices have built-in holes for their stylus, although in avoiding that approach, Microsoft was able to make the stylus larger and more like a regular pen. The signature hinge is not just a conversation piece — it’s angled just right so that the keyboard never actually touches the screen, meaning your dusty keys won’t leave an imprint on the display.

Indeed, you might doodle in the OneNote note-taking program, sketch in Fresh Paint, or write on the Web inside the new Microsoft Edge browser, which comes along with Windows 10. As Om Malik wrote in The New Yorker: “Sometimes, I wonder if Apple and Google are like Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, the Ukranian brothers who have, for the past decade, made the heavyweight boxing championship a very boring family affair.” Nor does the “boxing championship” look like it’ll be ending anytime soon. The hinge’s coolest innovation is the “muscle wire” locking mechanism: When the screen is docked, an electrical charge tightens the wires to ensure an unbreakable grip. According to Microsoft, you’ll be able to exploit the new Windows Hello feature in Windows 10 and “unlock” the computer by having the front-facing 5-megapixel high definition camera recognize your mug. (There’s also a rear facing 8-megapixel HD camera.) But the feature was not enabled yet in time for this review. I spent a glorious two days missing keys by small fractions, and therefore closing tabs and programs, or, in reverse, doing nothing when I wanted to do something.

Apple’s entry-level iPads are much cheaper, but Microsoft is going after customers of the MacBook Air (which starts at $899) and the iPad Pro (which starts at $799, plus $169 for a physical keyboard and $99 for the Apple Pencil). I have been using Macs since 1987 and have invested a lot in software and accessories, so I don’t see myself abandoning my Mac laptop for the Surface.

That’s not to say that Microsoft should build one into the Book — that would be silly — but it does mean that if tablet-a-bility is your main focus, you might want to look at a different device. I’m not sure if price deflation for the Book is a Microsoft priority, but perhaps once unit volume comes into play, and the company can leverage economics of scale, a lower sticker could emerge. Then again, Microsoft did not set out to build an inexpensive computer in this case — if it did, it failed — so our quibble here is slightly unfair.

Normally I’d not bring it up, but as Microsoft has quite a lot of room in the lower half of the device to secure juice, I think it’s a fair complaint.

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