There’s no doubt about it. Apple and I are falling behind the times. After years of using a bulky Mac laptop, I graduated to a slim and light Mac notebook, but now laptops are all the rage again. So says Microsoft.
The Windows maker doubled down on laptops with the new Surface Laptop. Yep. That’s the name of Microsoft’s new MacBook killer. Alright, the killer monicker will need some time to come to fruition. After all, Microsoft’s Surface PCs have been taking a sales dive the past year. What makes this MacBook killer different?
The. Price. Tag.
Well, how about the price tag? Surface Laptop starts at $999, about the same price as Apple’s aging MacBook Air line which should be dropped from Apple’s website any moment, and just a couple of hundred dollars below the slimmer and lighter but less powerful MacBook.
Surface Laptop weighs almost three Quarter-Pounders more than a MacBook, but it does come with Intel Core i5 or i7 CPUs, up to a full terabyte of SSD storage and more than half a day of battery life. But no USB-C. Obviously, Microsoft started this design about three years ago when USB-C was a sparkle in Intel engineer’s eyes.
Microsoft wants the Surface Laptop to fit somewhere between Apple’s MacBook and MacBook Pro, but is priced below the MacBook with better specifications (other than it still runs Windows). This is not a budget notebook so Microsoft’s OEM partners have little to fear. At least, at the low end of the product spectrum where gross margins whither and profits die in the hot sun of sales at Best Buy and Amazon.
Unlike the MacBook or MacBook Pro, Microsoft’s Surface Laptop has an Alcantara keyboard, which is more akin to the Smart Keyboard on Apple’s iPad Pro. Womenfolk will love the Surface color selection which ranges from platinum, burgundy, cobalt blue, and graphite gold.
This model comes with Windows 10S (a strange beast with odd restrictions, but more on that another day), a nifty PixelSense 13.5-inch touchscreen, and with what Microsoft’s propaganda calls an ultra-thin bezel. Uh huh. Ultra thin as in the original iPad.
Wait a minute. Womenfolk? Isn’t that a bit sexist? Not really. Clearly Microsoft is aiming this notebook at the growing market of women who love classy looking laptops with multiple color choices. Check out some of Microsoft’s own promotional materials.
Microsoft clearly is targeting womenfolk. They’re just not using the same word because a picture is worth a thousand words, amirite?
Specifications make it more masculine than Apple’s entry-level MacBook line at a lower entry-level price tag and with higher capacity options. Pound for pound, a 256GB SSD and 8GB of RAM in a MacBook is priced at $1,299, same as the Microsoft Surface laptop, but the latter has faster CPUs inside, and options to go to 16GB of RAM and 512GB SSD which puts it more in line with a MacBook Pro and both, similarly equipped, are priced the same at $2,199.
Here’s the problem. Microsoft Surface sales have been going down the past year while Apple’s Mac line sells at record levels. Clearly, if Microsoft wants in on some of that growing Mac market while the rest of the PC industry lives in the doldrums, it has to do exactly what Apple does at a lower price point, or improve on Apple’s products at the same price point.
Surface Laptop does neither, so it ain’t no Mac killer.