How the New Microsoft Surface Book Changes Things Up

While the Surface Book is built for all consumers, it is especially geared toward businesses.

December 07, 2015 by Alex Collins, IT Services Consultant

SurfacePro2Goodbye, kickstand: the Surface Book uses a ‘dynamic fulcrum hinge’ to be a laptop and a tablet

For the longest time, Microsoft was the king of the software business. It wasn’t until recently that it entered the hardware market through the Surface line of tablets. The company stumbled at first but eventually improved its tablet line in the third and fourth versions. However, Microsoft felt that it still wanted to do more to be truly competitive – especially toward its most creative competition: Apple and its MacBooks, along with iPads and iOS. Microsoft had long considered developing a laptop, and finally decided to form an engineering team dedicated to it.

Microsoft’s decision to enter the laptop market was analyzed and thought out over a number of years. The company faced increasingly strong competition from various competitors, especially Apple and its MacBook line. In order to face the competition head on, Microsoft made a substantial change in its overall business strategy, dramatically shifting to selling software and hardware from the same manufacturer together. Recently, Microsoft has made several shifts to indicate the change is here to stay, including opening several brick and mortar Microsoft stores to sell Microsoft hardware, and by saying the future of Windows is “as a service” (SaaS). Many of these changes seem tailored towards businesses, as does the Surface Book.

While the Surface Book is built for all consumers, it is especially geared toward businesses. ZDNet writer Adrian Kingsley-Hughes says, “these devices have business written all over them. From the gigabytes of RAM to the TPM modules to even the images used to promote these devices on Microsoft's website, it's clear that the Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book are aimed squarely at professionals.”

Indeed, almost everything about the Surface Book seems to be designed with professional touches, from its sleek magnesium design, easy to use trackpad, its distinct snake-like hinge, and its innovative design which allows it to pull apart. Then there's the technical specifications: the base model Surface Book comes with a 128 GB solid state drive, 8 GB of RAM, an extremely high-resolution display, and USB 3.0 for extremely fast file transfer. The base model alone is likely more than enough computing power for most standard business and non-professional uses.

The Surface Book has garnered extremely favorable reviews from most reviewers, both technical and non-technical. Why did Microsoft wait so long to release a laptop? Consider OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) – the Dell, Sony, and Lenovos of the world. Before the Surface Book, Microsoft was a partner with many of them. But now, “‘it’s a huge deal [because] it’s encroaching on the OEMs’ prime territory," said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.

Microsoft has flat out admitted in SEC filings that they are aware their Surface line of products, especially the Surface Book, directly competes with a number of OEM manufacturers.

The Surface Book starts at a price of $1,499, similarly priced to the 13 inch MacBook Pro ($1,299). Higher-end models include larger hard-drives for more storage space and more RAM for additional processing power. The initial release has left Microsoft out of stock, far exceeding their sales goals – and likely to continue their foray into laptops.