I HAVE RARELY been excited by Microsoft hardware. I used to be a Windows Phone user back in the day, but the company's Surface devices have never really done anything for me. Until now.
At around 4pm on Tuesday, I was not-so-secretly hoping that Microsoft's 100mph Windows Devices keynote was coming to a close. It didn't, which in turn meant I couldn't get back to watching Grand Designs and that the world caught its first glimpse of the Surface Book, Microsoft's first laptop.
Microsoft's new Lumia devices and Surface Pro 4 had leaked almost completely ahead of yesterday's event, but it's fair to say that nobody saw the Surface Book coming. Apple in particular, we're assuming.
Never before has a Microsoft product grabbed my, or seemingly many people's, attention quite like the Surface Book. We usually mock vendor comments that they are "reinventing" a product category, but it's hard to argue with Microsoft when it claimed that it's "reinventing the laptop".
We thought at first that the launch of the Surface Book showed Microsoft's lack of confidence in the Surface Pro, which it has long described as the perfect laptop replacement, but the exuberant, albeit slightly frightening, Panos Panay soon proved otherwise.
He made it clear that the Surface Book has its own market. It's not going after those looking for a kickstand-equipped tablet-type-thing, it's after those with their sights set on the most premium, powerful Windows device available, just as Google's Chromebook Pixel does in the Chrome OS market.
And the best thing about the Surface Book? As well as offering desktop-class performance thanks to its Skylake internals and dedicated Nvidia GPU, a 12-hour battery life and a full version of Windows 10 Pro, the display can be removed.
Microsoft made jaws drop when it revealed that the Surface Book's 13.5in display, which has a 3,000x2,000 resolution, can be detached, something which sees the firm imagining a hybrid device like none seen before. Microsoft hasn't just made a tablet with a detachable keyboard, it's designed a whole new hinge and attachment mechanism, something its long list of OEM partners have so far failed to do.
Long story short, the Microsoft Surface Book is what the iPad Pro should have been.
As some of you will know, I was pretty excited about the iPad Pro ahead of its launch. As the owner of a third-generation, slow-as-shit iPad, I was hoping that Apple's 12.9in-screened tablet would be the device that persuaded me to upgrade. It isn't. Sure, it has a pencil, but let's face it, it's really just a massive iPhone with a Surface-style keyboard that is probably as awkward as hell to type on.
My lack of interest in the product has been heightened by the debut of the Surface Book, and Reddit, where a huge number of people shared the opinion that the Apple tablet pales in comparison with Microsoft's latest effort.
As one user pointed out, the iPad Pro and Surface Book are aimed at business users, so why the hell has Apple decided to equip it with iOS over OS X? I've long attempted to work on iOS, and have thus long failed to get our content management system to play nice with the mobile Safari web browser or to edit images using the options available.
Sure, it's no secret that Apple has no plans to merge its operating systems or whatever, but with the firm's product line-up still lacking a touchscreen laptop, what about those who want a truly productive touchscreen Apple device? It simply doesn't exist.
One user on Reddit said: "iOS is great for a phone, but it's pretty lacklustre for a serious computing device. The iPad Pro with iOS is ridiculous, but Apple seems unwilling to create a tablet that runs anything else. Apple could make a device like this Surface Book thing, but if it ran iOS it would be no more useful than an iPhone 6S+."
We can't help but agree, something we didn't realise until Microsoft proved how it should be done during its unexpectedly exciting keynote this week.
Let's be honest, though. I probably won't get a Surface Book, partly because I'm still not a huge fan of Windows but mainly because I'm not made of money.
But that doesn't matter. Plenty of people will buy the Surface Book. Why wouldn't they? OEM partners have nothing on offer that comes close to competing and, given its lacklustre efforts with the iPad Pro, nor does Apple. µ
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