Apple cannot ignore Microsoft’s new Surface Laptop
Powerful specs and a great design, but can the Surface Laptop really wean away Mac loyalists?
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It is not just a new edition that has been added to the Windows 10 line-up with Windows 10 S, but there is also the Surface Laptop that now becomes the newest addition to the Surface line-up of devices.
The basic specifications include the latest generation Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processors, a 13.5-inch PixelSense Display, USB 3.0 and the Intel HD 620 graphics (Core i5) or the Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 (Core i7).
Prices start at $999 (around Rs64,000) for the Core i5 machine with 4GB RAM and a 128GB SSD, and jump to $1,299 (around Rs83,000) for the version running 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD. If you go for the higher-spec Core i7 variants, the first version with 8GB RAM and 512GB SSD is priced at $1,599 (around Rs1,02,000), while the top-spec version with 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD is priced at $2,199 (around Rs1,40,000).
Out of the box, these machines will run the Windows 10 S software, with certain restrictions about what software can be run. Incidentally, if you like the looks of the Surface Laptop, but aren’t entirely sure about the Windows 10 S limitations, Microsoft will allow an upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for free, until 31 December. Microsoft claims as many as 14.5 hours of battery life on continuous video playback too. The Surface Laptop’s touch display works with the Surface Pen stylus too.
The Surface Laptop clearly goes up against Apple’s MacBook line-up, particularly the MacBook with the 12-inch display and the MacBook Air 13 with the 13.3-inch display. The former is priced upwards of Rs1,12,900 while the latter carries a price tag of Rs80,900 onwards but is available at multiple online and offline stores for around Rs55,000 after various discounts and schemes. The Surface Book claims to have superior battery life, to the MacBook Air’s 12-hour battery life, for example. The other big advantage is that the Surface Book runs newer Intel processors and graphics, which could also help battery life figures in real-world usage scenarios. However, for many users, the entire package of a laptop goes beyond just specs. It has a lot to do with the experience of using the software as well, and while Windows 10 remains significantly better than the disaster that was Windows 8, there are still issues that plague it—automatic updates, crashed machines after the Creators Update, inconsistent performance because of hardware and much more.
While Microsoft is keenly pushing this to specific users for educational usage, the reality is that such powerful specification and the slick form factor will have a much wider appeal. And at these price points, it will catch the eye of anyone who was planning to buy a MacBook.
However, in its standard avatar, the Surface Laptop with the Windows 10 S operating system is no match for the MacOS, simply because of the limitations in terms of running software, games and peripheral drivers. For that, you will need to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro, which though free till the end of the year, will add $49 more to the overall cost.
It will be interesting to see how, and if at all, Apple responds to the Surface Laptop. It will be interesting to see how quickly it flies off the shelves once it hits the stores on 15 June, and that could be when Apple may consider taking some corrective action. But if the previous Surface device sales are anything to go by, Apple wouldn’t be worried about Mac loyalists switching camps just yet.