Microsoft Takes on Apple with the Surface Book with Performance Base
Microsoft has been taking too long in getting into the arena with Apple’s lineup of notebooks. It has been a year since Microsoft introduced the Surface Book and it has now been upgraded to be more than a match to the MacBook Pro.
The latest Microsoft Surface Book is a 13-inch touchscreen laptop/tablet hybrid. With its Performance Base, it is not just a tablet. It is, rather a laptop which can be used as a tablet. The secret to Microsoft’s offering is the Performance Base. This is not just a dock for a tablet. It is an upgrade to the tablet’s capabilities.
Next Level Surface Book
As it is, the tablet portion of the Surface Book has also been upgraded to a different level. At least, when you pair it with the Performance Base you would have a laptop in a class all its own. Externally, it seems that there has not been any improvement. Internally, it still uses a 6th Generation Intel processor.
Power, a lot of it
However, what it does bring to the table is a lot of power. The Surface Book offers an Intel Core i7 dual-core processor designed for notebooks. You can have up to 16GB or RAM. The tablet portion has its own battery which is good for 3 to 4 hours. It also has a builtin graphics processor. When mated with the Performance, Base, it can make use of the battery of the dock and extend the battery life. Microsoft says you can have up to 16 hours, although independent users and tests show that it is closer to 9 hours, tops. The dock also houses a dedicated graphics processor, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M GPU with up to 2GB or dedicated GDDR5 video RAM.
The stylus comes standard and attaches itself to the Performance Base. It has 1024 levels of depth, and can be configured accordingly.
Buyers have a choice between a Core i5 or an i7 processor. The lower spec Surface Book also has only 256GB of storage, while the i7 has 1TB SSD. The difference in price is also a big gap, with the entry level Core i5-powered Surface Book priced at $1,499, while the fully loaded version costs $3,299. This is almost as expensive as the Microsoft Surface Pro.
Microsoft Flexing its Muscle
This is the most aggressive notebook in the market today. It may not be in the same performance class as gaming notebooks, but it tries to be more than what all these other notebooks can’t be. It is the notebook for everyone. It is also aimed squarely at the MacBook Pro. When you think about it, the design gives you two computers for the price of one. One other feature of the Surface Book is that it is running the latest version of Windows and is compatible out of the box with the Surface Dial. This item is sold separately and is one of the outstanding features of the latest Surface line from Microsoft.
For all of its vaunted power, this is a machine for the everyday user. What is not ordinary about it is the price. At the top end, you have a Surface Book which is almost as expensive as a full-featured Surface Pro. This is not a coincidence. Microsoft is sending a message. They are not going to go after the lower end of the market. They are not after the everyday user. They are after the premium market, which Apple has lorded over for several years now. Apple is still the top seller in the Premium market, and they earn big margins for each notebook that they sell. If Microsoft can just chip away at that market, they don’t need to go after the mid-range or the low end of the price spectrum.