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Microsoft’s Surface Book takes a page out of Apple’s playbook

October 19th, 2015 at 3:14 PM
Surface Book Vs MacBook Pro

Microsoft earlier this month shocked the tech world when it introduced the Surface Book, a rather intriguing and compelling hybrid laptop. Though the device represents the first laptop ever developed by Microsoft, the company left nothing to chance and came out of the gate firing. The Surface Book impresses from all angles; in addition to formidable specs, the device features a stunning 13.5-inch display that can be detached and used separately as a tablet.

Of course, with Microsoft now selling its own laptop, one has to wonder if traditional PC manufacturers are worried that they now have to compete against a company that also doubles as their partner.

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It’s a potentially thorny and awkward situation, but Microsoft insists that it won’t be a problem because the Surface Book was designed to steal away consumers from just one company: Apple. Specifically, Microsoft’s SurfaceBook takes aim at both current and prospective MacBook Pro users.

This became plainly evident during Microsoft’s Surface Book unveiling when the company’s VP of engineering Panos Panay boasted that the Surface Book is twice as fast as Apple’s MacBook Pro.

And lest you have any lingering doubt, Microsoft VP Terry Myerson told BusinessInsider in a recent interview that the Surface Book is not intended to compete against more affordable products from the likes of Lenovo and Dell. On the contrary, Microsoft is looking to take a page out of Apple’s playbook and is making a bold play for the high end of the PC market.

Similar to the iPhone, Apple laptops may not have a marketshare advantage, but they undeniably own the premium end of the notebook market. If you randomly pick a consumer who just spent upwards of $1500 on a laptop, it’s a safe bet that he/she just picked up a MacBook Pro.

So with the Surface Book, a device with a base price of $1,499, Microsoft wants to ensure that consumers looking to get a little bit more bang for a few extra bucks can remain in the friendly confines of the Windows ecosystem and not have to check out their local Apple retail store.

Really, Myerson says, the entire Surface line is about making sure that every customer looking for a Windows 10 device finds something that suits their needs. Microsoft never wants customers to be in a position where they’d prefer Windows 10 but simply refuse to buy a Windows 10 computer because there’s no suitable hardware available. If Windows is going to get to 1 billion users, he says, it’ll happen “one customer at a time.”

Boasting that the Surface Book is a “better product” than what Apple has to offer, Myerson again tried to clarify that Microsoft’s first laptop is not intended to compete with any of Microsoft’s valued partners.

“MacBook Pro is the competitor for the Surface Book,” Myerson said.

While that sounds great in theory, one still has to wonder if companies like Lenovo and HP are a little frustrated with Microsoft trying to ease into the higher-margin end of their notebook business.

Either way, Microsoft making a blatant play for the premium end of the market is something new and it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out once the Surface Book is released. Remember that the Surface Book is hardly a cheap device, with the most expensive configuration checking in at $3,199. Folks are used to Apple charging that type of premium, but will they be okay with Microsoft trying to do the same thing?

We’ll find out soon enough.

A life long Mac user and Apple enthusiast, Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 6 years. His writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and most recently, TUAW. When not writing about and analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions, the most recent examples being The Walking Dead and Broad City.

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