Microsoft have just unveiled a new laptop that looks very impressive and is clearly intended to replace your Mac. There's also a new version of Windows 10 included that should speed everything up. Here are my first thoughts on the two new products.
The first thing you'll notice is that this device looks amazing and for me, it clearly fills the gap that was left after Sony withdrew their Vaio range.
I think it's safe to consider this as a device that's aimed at MacBook users. They couldn't have timed it better either, with the current expensive and prohibitive offerings from Apple. While you may be reaching for your wallet right now, I suggest you pause for a moment, because there's a huge problem with this device.
While the hardware looks fantastic, the new software raises more than a few concerns. Although it's presented as a more streamlined version of Windows 10 that helps to increase overall performance and improve security, there's a huge price to pay for this.
Windows 10 S only lets you install apps purchased through the Microsoft Store.
That right, for a thousand dollars you have no control and your machine won't let you install iTunes, Chrome or any of the essential apps you use that aren't available from Microsoft directly. You'll also be stuck with Edge as your default browser.
They have also made it clear though that this new OS is aimed at the education market and this makes a lot of sense. I also think it would be great on low-end devices, where the improved security and efficiency would make a difference.
The problem here is that Microsoft seem to be in a bit of a mess when it comes to marketing the Surface Laptop.
They are positioning this to appeal to students but pricing it out of most people's range. They are also going after Apple but holding back on the main reason people are attracted to them, which is the operating system and the range of apps available.
I personally would love to switch to Windows given Apple's pricing, but Mac OS and unique apps like Alfred and Fantastical make my life so much easier. This is before I even take Apple's own apps not consideration.
Coming back to hardware, I also think it's interesting that this is an actually laptop, rather than a tablet hybrid. This seems to go against Microsoft's design philosophy and it will be interesting to hear what consumers think about this. The screen is also pretty mediocre from what I've read, but I guess that's the price you pay for a huge battery life.
Overall, I think this is a very nice machine but the muddled confusion over who it's actually aimed at really puts me off it.
I honestly don't think anyone who pays this much for a computer will want Windows 10 S. You can pay to upgrade to the full Windows 10 though and this will reportedly be free for a limited period. The problem with this for me is that I'd want to know just how this impacted the overall performance of the device before I gave them even more money.
Again, I think this should have been communicated better by Microsoft and surely giving consumers a clear (and free) choice between performance and functionality would have been better. Just a simple choice when you first boot it up, or restore it, would probably be a lot better.
None of this means that I don't like Windows 10 S though, just that I think it's suited to entry level machines.
To sum it up, I think this is like Mercedes or BMW releasing one of their cars aimed at learner drivers, with built-in L-plates and no stereo in case it distracts the driver. Time will tell, but I think Microsoft will learn some tough lessons from this.