Microsoft recently announced the Surface Laptop starting at $999. With the announcement of this new laptop is a new version of the Windows operating system called Windows 10 S.
It’s funny how several years ago, everything was about tablets. The iPad, Android tablets, Windows tablets from all the big OEMs. $99 android tablets being sold at corner markets, even at 7-eleven. Everybody said that the tablets would be the real end of the PC. Microsoft themselves came out with a few versions of the Surface tablet devices and then later came out with the Surface Book, which is a 2-in-1 device tablet with detachable keyboard. Now we’re back to pure laptop designs again with tablets a thing of the past. Tablets were a fad and a consumption only device that I never took to. Good thing I didn’t waste my money on them.
Whenever you plan to develop a product, you always have to consider your target market. Then from there, you do your research and figure out the pricing and specs to fit that target market against the current products on the market. In this case, Microsoft wants to target college students. Good idea? It’s a good market to target and Microsoft seems to have targeted the MacBook Air as the competitor. From the hardware side, it works. From the OS side with Windows 10 S, I don’t think so.
I don’t like to get too technical since it won’t mean much to you. There’s plenty of other articles online that can give you technical comparisons, but most of that doesn’t really matter to most of you. I used to work in the computer industry and worked closely with Intel, AMD, nVidia, Microsoft and so on so I know all the technical aspects of the Intel processors and can bore you with it, but I won’t. Let’s just say I used to overclock PCs as well. But anyways…
Suffice it to say, just remember that with each generation of new processors, it’s roughly a 15% increase in performance. With these performance increases, there’s also a general decrease in power consumption as well so that’s why new devices each year also seem to have better battery life. There are other factors to battery life increases as well but when you look at the specs for the processor alone, you’ll generally see an increase in performance and decrease in power requirements.
With the base model of the Surface Laptop using a 7th gen Intel Core i5 processor, I’m good with that. I consider the Core i5 the lowest processor you should ever use in a PC. Anything lower and you should just throw that machine away. I don’t even consider AMD processors. Sorry AMD! I’ve known many great people at AMD but I don’t like their stuff.
People used to compare Macs to PCs and this annoyed me so much because people were comparing $2k+ Macs to low-end $500 PCs that had processors much lower than a Core i5. Of course the PC would perform worse. You’re not comparing apples to apples here. Anyway, that’s a rant for another day.
The Surface Laptop has a screen size of 13.5″. The Surface Book, in comparison, has the same size screen but at a higher resolution. However, even though the Surface Laptop has a lower resolution at 2256 x 1504, it’s still higher than 1080p, which I consider an absolute minimum for computer displays.
At a screen size of 13.5″, this won’t be my primary system. I’m a power user that likes desktops with multiple 24″ monitors. When I used to travel for business in the past, I used a 15″ laptop. At 15″, it was still barely usable in my opinion for what I do, but carrying around a 17″ laptop was too much. Despite this though, I have been considering getting the Surface Book. I didn’t even consider the Surface Pro tablets as it doesn’t even make sense to have a PC without a keyboard. The touch cover keyboards for the Surface Pro isn’t the same and I can’t easily sit the Tablet on my lap comfortably, not like a laptop, thus the name “laptop”.
Coming back from that tangent, I would consider the Surface Laptop with the 13.5″ display now as there aren’t many laptops on the market that are designed this well (I’m not considering a MacBook). The only other brand for Laptops I would consider would be Samsung. No Dell or HP.
Windows 10 S
Microsoft is calling the Windows 10 S a lightweight operating system. I call it restricted and useless. This isn’t Microsoft’s first time with a lightweight OS. With their first low-cost tablet years ago, they released Windows RT and it was a flop.
The major difference between these lightweight operating systems and the full version Windows 10 is that you are limited to only installing and using applications from the Windows Store. It’s like your apple devices and iTunes, android and the play store. For mobile devices like your smartphone and apple/android tablets, this makes sense. For devices meant for true computing, you’re restricting usage of the system and that doesn’t make sense.
Windows RT devices flopped because the Windows Store didn’t have many apps. These devices turned out to be expensive internet browsers.
With Windows 10 S and the new Surface Laptop, Microsoft is hoping that the Windows Store has matured with enough applications to suit everybody’s needs. I don’t think so. Microsoft themselves is barely adding the full version of Microsoft Office to the Windows Store after all these years. If they didn’t fully embrace it from the beginning with their full suite of products, why would other developers? As of right now, the Windows Store doesn’t have Google Chrome so you better get used to surfing the web with the Microsoft Edge browser.
The good thing is that you’re not limited to the Windows 10 S operating system with the Surface Laptop. You can upgrade to the full version of Windows 10 Pro. This is in contrast to what happened with the old Windows RT devices. Those devices were built on a different architecture and therefore could not support Windows 8/8.1 operating system at that time.