The Microsoft Surface Book is So Apple-like, it Fooled Intel

By Rob Enderle February 09, 2016

This last week I was at the Intel Skylake for business launch in San Francisco, and I moderated a panel on security which pretty much convinced me to buy a bunker.  For notes/script I’d taken the tablet component off of my Microsoft Surface Book, largely because it was the only Skylake based computer I had.   Well, right before the event was supposed to start, one of the Intel folks walked up and said, “You know, we’d really appreciate it if you didn’t use that iPad on stage.”

To my eye, the Surface Book Tablet part has a far crisper design with hard edges, while the iPad has a more organic look to it.  They are similar, but how could Intel mix it up with an iPad?

Let’s talk about that.

Surface Book

Part of the issue is that most of us use Surface products in laptop mode and we get used to seeing them that way.  People don’t see what an attractive tablet it makes because Surface Book users mostly use it in laptop mode but, surprisingly, it makes a really nice tablet as well.  However unlike Surface Pro and the iPad Pro when docked the Surface Book looks just like a laptop so people, when they think of the Surface Book, think of it only in its laptop mode.  

I was chatting with the panelist from Illy Lilly and apparently they’d ordered a large number of the Surface Books for their employees and the only complaint was that it didn’t use the Skylake for business part and used the consumer version of the offering instead.  It was a timing issue, the business part wasn’t ready in time for a late 2015 launch.   Otherwise he raved about it.  

I’ve been carrying it for several weeks myself and love it but have to admit I’d only pooled the tablet off once before and only to see how the electronic lock worked.  

The Surface Book Tablet

The Pro version of Surface and the Surface Book are both laptop-sized tablets and significantly bigger than the 10” iPad.  But when someone has a 10” tablet in their hand you don’t notice the difference that much if you aren’t the one holding it. 

One of the issues, however, with these large tablets is that the weight, while a fraction of what Windows tablets used to weigh, is still significantly greater than 10” and especially 6”-8” tablets, which is what I normally use for notes.   Which means you really start to feel the weight if you hare holding it for 15 or 30 minutes, and while visually it would make a good reading platform, the extra weight would be problematic.  However, with the base and booster battery, it is actually better as a movie or gaming platform on long trips.  

The Surface Book Tablet Trick

Now one trick for this is to pull the tablet off the keyboard base and put it back on backwards, which really works well if you want to kick back and watch a movie on a plane in coach.  You can angle the screen back nicely and worry less that the person in front of you will recline and hit the screen.  It is pretty damned handy. 

Wrapping Up:  

Apple is the leader in design forward thinking, and the Surface Book is the first product Microsoft has made that is attractive enough to make people think it was designed by Apple.  But it isn’t a copy; in laptop mode it is as attractive as the most attractive laptops and has a very unique profile, in tablet mode because it is silver and very attractive it looks more like an Apple offering (I’d love to see it in black) and even fooled some Intel folks who clearly have seen both products a lot.  

I wonder how many Apple fans it would fool?   



President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group

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