Surface Pro, Take 3: With its latest tablet, Microsoft has its eyes on your lap

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Kicking off Microsoft’s Surface event in New York City this morning, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made a statement that would have seemed odd without knowing the context.

“We clearly are not interested in building refrigerator and toasters,” he said.

SurfacePro3It was a reference to Apple CEO Tim Cook’s April 2012 remark about the challenges of making hybrid laptop and tablet devices. “Anything can be forced to converge but the problem is the products are about tradeoffs. You begin to make trade-offs to the point where what you have left at the end of the day doesn’t please anyone.”

But with the new Surface Pro 3, the Redmond company is clearly feeling like it has overcome the challenge — coming up with a device that can work as well as a laptop as it does as a traditional tablet.

The old adage is that Microsoft doesn’t really get a product right until Version 3, and that may well be the case here based on what we’re seeing today. One big question is whether the Surface Pro 3 will appeal to corporate IT buyers, providing them an opportunity to save money by giving users one device for mobile productivity, rather than both a tablet and laptop.

screenshot_10The device, unveiled this morning, adds new features including: a full-friction kickstand that adds many more angles for users; a new way of attaching the Touch Cover keyboard to the bottom of the screen for additional stability; a better aspect ratio for using the device in portrait mode; and a neat trick that lets the user open OneNote by clicking the Surface Pro pen.

Nadella said the idea is to “design and build a device that takes the best of the tablet and the laptop and enables any individual to be able to read and to be able to create and write; allows you to watch a movie and make a movie; enjoy art and create art. That was the motivation for the Surface line, and today we have a major step forward on that dream.”

Panos Panay, the executive in charge of the Surface team, noted during his presentation that 96 percent of people who own an iPad also own a laptop. That’s the opportunity that Microsoft is trying to capitalize on with the revamped Surface Pro.

One surprise this morning is that the company didn’t unveil the Surface Mini that was widely expected to be announced at the event. The company had strongly hinted at the possibility in its media invitation for the event. Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet says the Surface Mini appears to have been delayed, offering several theories about the cause.

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 is available for pre-order starting tonight, hitting stores in June, priced from $799 to $1,949.

  • Dave

    Any comment on battery life? That was a killer with surface 1. It was mediocre and maybe passable for v2, but still low relative to the macbook air target market of traveling professionals.

    I don’t know many companies that buy employees a laptop and a tablet. Tend to get the laptop and buy the tablet personally.

    This looks worth trying out.

    • http://geekwire.com Todd Bishop

      Hi Dave — Yes, they’re claiming up to 9 hours battery life for web browsing.

  • TX_PNW

    mmh… $799 for the base-model with just 64GB of storage and a slow i3 processor? Add a touch-cover on top of that and you are looking at $900 …. same price as the entry-level MacBook Air but with DOUBLE the storage, faster processor and better battery life.

  • DBfromOR

    The problem is, that it will still be running Windows 8.
    I think they should have brought it out with Windows 9. I wouldn’t buy one for that reason alone.

  • panacheart

    This is so far off the mark it’s not funny. I can buy a 128GB ipad for $799 and a 13 inch Macbook air with 256GB for $1200. So basically I can have an ipad AND a macbook air for about the same price as a high end Surface 3, which runs Windows 8 and would make me want to kill myself anyway. Or I could get a high end ipad and buy a bluetooth keyboard, save money and not use Windows 8.

    The surface misses the mark by so far that one can only assume that internally at Microsoft people are completely and utterly disillusioned.

    BTW, the battery analysis is a moot subject. You have to use Windows 8, so if you tried to use your surface for 9 hours straight to test the battery you would off yourself before the battery ran out. If you don’t believe me, hand a few out to death row inmates in a prison. You’ll see.

  • Dave

    The pricing is a little ridiculous. The early write-ups I saw on other sites said the cover was included, but it is not. Has anyone ever seen a Surface in public without the cover? Granted, you don’t see many Surface’s in public to begin with but…Since you basically must have a cover to get even decent use out of the device and the device is sold as a laptop replacement, the Surface is really $930 to almost $2,100.

    That pricing is just completely out of whack unless companies start buying them. But if companies start buying them for employees, then they need the add-on dock and other stuff. You’ll have a $2,500 setup to replace a current laptop. Hard to see that really happening, other than for very senior execs and perhaps super frequent travelling sales people if they pushed hard for it.