Microsoft just announced the Surface Pro 3 and a new direction for the Surface line. Microsoft is no longer looking to counter the iPad. The Surface Pro 3 is Microsoft’s answer to the “heavy” MacBook Air.
This argument is not new. Microsoft touched on this with the Surface Pro and then the Surface Pro 2. The value proposition is simply more clear now. Instead of muddling the argument with examples of how the Surface Pro can be an iPad and a MacBook Air and then an iPad again, Microsoft is now simply saying the new Surface Pro is better than the MacBook Air.
To be honest, it’s the Windows world’s best answer to the fantastic MacBook Air yet. It’s seemingly more powerful and versatile than anything from Samsung, Lenovo or HP.
The Surface has always promised a tablet could replace a laptop. But through two Surface generations, that has so far failed to materialize. The Surface Pro 1 and 2 were too heavy and thick. The screen was too small and the device didn’t work well while on a lap. The Surface Pro 3 answers all of that.
The screen is now larger at 12-inches and sports a higher resolution than the MacBook Air. The Surface Pro 3 with a keyboard is thinner than the MacBook Air. There’s 4g built-in. And for better or worse, the Surface Pro 3 is a touchscreen and has novel OneNote features such as a mode that instantly lets users jot down notes even when the device is turned off.
Still, it’s no MacBook Air.
I once wrote an article comparing the first generation Surface Pro and the MacBook Air. I was mostly wrong. I used the original Surface Pro as a daily driver for several months. The relationship didn’t work out. Microsoft’s promise of a dual function device fell short in real life. The original Surface Pro just didn’t have the chops to hang. I couldn’t use it in my lap, the device wasn’t powerful enough to smoothly run multiple applications over several monitors. The experience was frustrating.
The MacBook Air is the best laptop on the market, bar none. There’s no argument. Apple has progressed the MacBook Air to near perfection. Microsoft knows that, which is why it so directly targeted the device in today’s unveiling.
At this point in the storyline, specs are meaningless. It’s about the experience and with the MacBook Air, Apple created and evolved the computer to truly mean personal. The MacBook Air is not the biggest or baddest laptop available, but it’s the most personal and that’s what makes it sell.
The Surface has always promised to be more personal. But the experience was still lacking. As I found during my time with previous Surface models, the form factor and platform just didn’t mesh.
But Microsoft kept at it and pushed the Surface larger and thinner. Meanwhile, Windows 8 evolved since its release, carefully blending the old Windows with the new Windows. Microsoft might have finally hit a point in both the software and hardware’s life where the Surface can finally be a Windows user’s MacBook Air.