Like most of the computer using world, I grew up on technology that ran Microsoft. Until a few years ago, I never owned an Apple anything. That changed when I bought my first smartphone, opting for an iPhone. I've been a huge Apple fan ever since. But I still use Microsoft products, and I'm all for innovation and improvement from any source.

Which is why I was excited to watch the Microsoft Windows 10 devices event yesterday. To say it was Microsoft's best unveiling in years is an understatement. There are so many great things to mention, including:

  • New developments with Microsoft HoloLens
  • A new and improved Microsoft Band
  • A new series of Lumia phones
  • Release of the Surface Pro 4

But all of these advancements were expected. Unlike what came next.

What everyone is talking about

Microsoft has resisted getting into the laptop market for years, perfectly happy to let others create devices to run their OS and suite of tools. But an interesting thing happened over that time. Although computers running Microsoft software continued to dominate market share, Apple's MacBook Pro developed a reputation for "best in class." Programmers, designers, and even serious writers went to Apple for hardware that delivered speed and power and looked nice to boot.

After all these years, with a new leader in Satya Nadella, it seems that Microsoft has grown tired of hearing about the MacBook Pro. If others couldn't design a laptop that could seriously compete, Microsoft would do it on its own.

And that's what it's done. Check out Microsoft's first ever laptop, the Surface Book.


Microsoft reports the following features of the Surface Book (full specs available here via Cnet):

  • 13.5-inch screen that delivers six million pixels
  • Precision glass, multitouch trackpad
  • Machined magnesium body, fabricated from a single billet
  • Newly designed, quiet, comfortable, and backlit keyboard
  • PCle 3.0 solid-state drive, with up to 1 TB of storage
  • Intel Core i5 or i7
  • Nvidia GeForce GPU with 16 GB of storage, 8 or 16 GB of RAM
  • 12 hour battery life

Microsoft corporate VP Panos Panay (who the Verge amusingly claims is pumped about everything) describes Surface Book as the laptop for gamers, architects, scientists, and even coders who need the combined power of a top-of-the-line CPU and GPU working at the same time, without losing a minute. (He claims the Surface Book is twice as fast as the comparable MacBook Pro model.)

According to Panos, the combined abilities of Microsoft's Xbox and Surface engineers have produced something special:

Ounce for ounce, pound for pound, this is the fastest 13" laptop ever made, anywhere, on any planet.

Put simply, the Surface Book is a solid competitor to the MacBook Pro, with great specs and a beautiful design.

But there's one more thing.

The feature that Microsoft must be proudest of is one that Apple doesn't currently offer.

What Apple doesn't have

The Surface Book separates, allowing you to use the top half as a stand-alone tablet.

That means if you want to read, watch movies, play games, or even do artwork or make notes manually (yes, Microsoft has a redesigned pen as well), you can take the tablet section of the laptop apart and go for it. If you want to show a partner or friend something on your screen, just pull off the top half and use it as a digital clipboard. No need to carry the whole laptop around anymore.

Nice.

The entry-level Surface starts at $1,499. (The 1 TB option goes up to $2,699.) It will be released on October 26, with pre-orders available. Personally, I can't wait to try it out.

Here is why this is really cool news: Great competition is always great for the consumer. Smart, creative minds pushing for better inspires innovation. In my opinion, Apple's been pushing other companies around for the past few years.

Looks like Microsoft has finally pushed back.

Published on: Oct 7, 2015
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