Five years ago, if you would have asked most industry insiders about the position of Microsoft as a serious player in the device market, they probably would have labelled you as some kind of crackpot and gone back to working on their brand new MacBook Air.
Things were very different in 2012.
Apple was dominant in the premium devices space, launching the iPhone 5 into an already saturated iPhone market that devoured it ravenously. Apple also unleashed new MacBook Pros and the aforementioned MacBook Air to almost universal praise.
It seemed as if they could do no wrong…
The Times, They are a Changin’
Something began in October 2012 that had the potential to change the premium devices market for good: The release of the first ever Microsoft Surface device.
Yes, it was flawed, and many had issues with the inclusion of Windows RT. The Surface almost sank under the weight of widespread rejection of the concept of a touch-enabled Windows 8.
That said, it was a good device.
It brought the concept of a detachable, convertible tablet to the mainstream. The instantly detachable ‘tear-off’ keyboard was sound – and would later be copied by Apple with the iPad Pro – and the touchscreen was responsive and tough.
Yes, it was a good device!
Getting Better all the Time
In the interceding years, Microsoft continued to refine their device offering.
Since the launch of the original Microsoft Surface we have seen the Surface 2 and Surface 3. The Surface Pro, Pro 2, Pro 3, Pro 4 (on which this post was written) and ultimately, the masterpiece of engineering that is the Surface Book.
With each iteration, the Surface has become smaller, lighter, easier to use, and just downright sexier. It now has the desirability factor that up until recently was the exclusive domain of iProducts.
Today, things change again.
Today sees the official launch of the latest family of Surface devices.
Has the Apple Killer Arrived?
With the new Surface Laptop and the all new [except for the name!] Surface Pro, Microsoft now has a device offering with the functionality and desirability to truly take on Apple.
The Surface Laptop brings all the great features that us Surface Pro 4 users have enjoyed, enhances them, and wraps them up in a ‘traditional’ Laptop form factor that is available in four colours.
Optimised for the recently announced Windows 10 S, the Surface Laptop is small and light, but still boasts luxury features like the Alacantra Fabric Keyboard that us SP4 users like so much.
The new Surface Pro looks extremely interesting.
Smaller and lighter than any Surface Pro before, Microsoft has crammed a LOT into its 11.5”, 784g frame.
Its top spec will give you a massive 1TB SSD, 16GB of RAM, and an Intel Core i7 processor.
It also boasts 50% longer battery life than the SP4, something that was badly needed for the Surface to be a serious contender as a business device.
Also released today is the Surface Studio. A device aimed at the professional design and creative marketplace but one that is sure to find a home in education, a key market for the entire Surface family.
Time will tell whether Microsoft can truly wrest the crown from Apple for the premium devices market.
Whoever wins out, I cannot recall a more complete ‘family’ of products from a single vendor.
Bear in mind that all the new Surface devices are optimised for Windows 10 and Office 365. Consider how powerful the combination of these products could be, especially when integrated by design.
Whether you are an educator, knowledge worker, design guru or just a consumer of sexy gadgets, you must now seriously consider a Microsoft Surface.
To have come so far in just five years is genuinely impressive, and it is starting to look like the long held Microsoft promise of Workplace Transformation is finally coming true.
Written by Marcus Naris, Sales Manager at Select Technology – Marcus is a former pre-sales Solutions Specialist at Microsoft and is passionate about helping customers understand that there is usually a better way of doing things, and that change is good and should be embraced.