Microsoft Surface Book Can Compete Against Apple MacBook

22 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

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

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. 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.

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. For comparison, Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,299 and comes with 10 hours of battery life, an Intel Core i7 process and up to 1TB flash storage. Surface Book shares certain traits with its highly-regarded siblings, the Surface hybrid tablet computers of which there’s now a brand new Surface Pro 4.

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, 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. If you didn’t know any better, you wouldn’t even know the keyboard and gorgeous 13.5-inch touch screen can be detached from one another, which transforms Surface Book into a large display clipboard or slate that I suspect will invite comparisons with Apple’s yet to be released iPad Pro. 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.

But even though that’s everything I want in a laptop, the accommodations Microsoft made to enable the tablet end up making the laptop experience less than ideal… Microsoft can clearly make a laptop that competes with the MacBook Pro with all the best ingredients, but it just needs to find a better recipe to combine all its innovative hardware. 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. When Apple developed the iPhone, Google shot back with the Android. (Microsoft fell behind with its less popular Lumia.) When Apple introduced the iPad, Google came out with the Nexus, and Microsoft with the Surface Book. 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. 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. Even if you consider the detachable screen little more than a party trick, you still get a well-built laptop with unmatched runtime and performance options that most other 13-inch systems simply don’t offer. 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. Because the screen is detachable, too, it’s more comfortable to use as a 1.6-pound tablet than all of those Yoga-like PCs are with their screens flipped back.

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). Rather than build a totally compromised device, a middling tablet mixed with a middling laptop, it built a kickass laptop and then sought to find ways it could add onto the experience. 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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