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Downvote deluge: Microsoft gets ratioed for its latest Surface Pro vs iPad Pro ad

The Surface Pro 7
The Surface Pro 7 (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft's latest ad pits the Surface Pro 7 against the iPad Pro.
  • The ad focuses on power, ports, price, and other areas that Microsoft believes the Surface Pro outshines the iPad Pro.
  • At the moment, the ad has hundreds of more downvotes than upvotes.

Microsoft's latest ad for the Surface Pro 7 compares the versatile 2-in-1 to Apple's iPad Pro. This isn't the first time that these devices have been put head-to-head, and it certainly won't be the last. The ad focuses on the differences between the devices, such as form factor, operating system, and accessories, rather than just comparing the devices by specs.

The ad shows off the Surface Pro 7's kickstand, Type Cover, and port selection. It also highlights that the Surface Pro 7 is a full PC, rather than "just a tablet" like the iPad Pro. It concludes with a price comparison of the devices, which leans in the Surface Pro 7's favor.

While the ad seems innocent enough, people on the internet don't appear to agree. At the time of publication, it has 1,300 downvotes vs 933 upvotes. Getting ratioed is fairly common online, especially on YouTube. With many people already firmly in either the Microsoft or Apple camp, it's normal to see people come out in droves against what they view as competition.

Advertisements are subjective in value, but this latest ad from Microsoft seems to make more sense than Intel's latest campaign against Apple hardware. While the Surface Pro 7 and iPad Pro are both fine pieces of tech, they are different in several key areas.

Our sister site iMore's iPad Pro review calls it "the ultimate 2-in-1 for everyone." Our Surface Pro 7 review says that "Microsoft's king of the 2-in-1s retains its crown." Depending on your needs and wants in a 2-in-1, both of those headlines can be accurate.

If you're debating between the two devices, we have a piece comparing the iPad Pro 2020 vs the Surface Pro 7.

Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.

21 Comments
  • Not surprising really. Many users bought the iPad Pro + keyboard based on Apple promises and history in convenience and design, only to find out the keyboard is clunky, ruins the tablet experience, and still doesn’t replace a MacBook, let alone a Windows PC. It’s not about buying the right tool for their needs. They usually think of these choices as one being a better choice altogether and the other being the wrong choice for everyone. Most humans rationalize their choices after the fact, stretching the truth to justify their actions and persuade themselves, and others, that they picked the right one. I’ve seen this behavior times and times again with people buying a video games console when two generations of consoles are overlapping. If they don’t have enough money for the new generation, they often won’t justify their choice with a financial explanation, instead they’ll explain the new generation doesn’t have any interesting games yet, isn’t an important improvement over the previous generation, etc… and rationalize their choice that way until the very day they can afford to buy the new generation, at which point, within hours, the new generation suddenly fixed all of the concerns they’ve been explaining for months and became the obvious better choice, which they’ll justify to everyone to rationalize that new purchase. If the Surface Pro 7 is a better choice, they made the wrong decision, but they already purchased the iPad Pro, so the only solution left is to influence everyone’s perception of the winner so they can be seen as having made the right choice with the iPad Pro. That’s how the cult-like technology wars get so personal.
    Having the people already invested in the competition react so strongly to the Surface Pro vs iPad Pro ad could actually be a sign that they took notice and feel a strong need to rationalize their choice, precisely because they’re not so sure that they made the right choice anymore.
  • Good point here.
  • This is true of customer psychology generally. In fact, much of advertising is designed to affirm prior purchase decisions, because it's cheaper and easier to keep a customer (upgrades, repeat business, etc.) than win a new one. You don't hear much about that in ad discussions, but many ads make more sense when viewed through that lens.
  • "Having the people already invested in the competition react so strongly to the [Thing 1] vs [Thing 2] ad could actually be a sign that they took notice and feel a strong need to rationalize their choice, precisely because they’re not so sure that they made the right choice anymore." We call this "The Internet." Specifically regarding the iPad/Chromebook/laptop thing, it is both hilarious and sad to see students who buy a device that is really not sufficient for college and later it dawns on them that they have to buy an actual computer. Hilarious because they should know better. Sad because they are still teenagers and haven't grown up. An iPad + laptop combination is actually great for students - conditional on not burning hundreds of extra dollars on an iPad Pro. You have to get the pen too, though.
  • Apple apologists are the same as spots fans living in their teams glory days. They think it's the business that wins games. It's not. It's the players. One of the best players of all time, Steve Jobs, has been replaced by a mediocre Tim Cook. The team hasn't won any championships since then. Yet their fans insist that the current team is the best. They also fail to realize that Tim thinks that they are beneath him. He knows what's best for them, and they will like it. Maybe this explains their devotion? A codependent relationship?
  • You don't think Steve Jobs knew what the customer needed before the consumer did?
  • Apple's market cap has grown almost 6 times since Jobs died. Apple is a business not a sports club, your comment makes no sense.
  • Very poor analogy. The Apple Watch is probably the most successful fitness tracker/smartwatch in a long time. Their AirPods sell super-well. The M1 chips are incredibly potent for their market, leaving Windows with nothing meaningful to compete (since Qualcomm's chips are way behind). Meanwhile, the existing stable of iPhones and iPads and Macbooks aren't hurting for success. They aren't offering the most popular laptops in the world, but that's never been Apple's goal in the first place. Apple's not failing under Cook. I do question some of its long-term vision, since it seems to be heavily shifting towards a tech brand than the overarching tech innovator it once was, but that's not indicative of failure. Where Apple finds its greatest success, Microsoft has floundered BADLY for basically a decade. It's just that Microsoft has so many other avenues to revenue (cloud, enterprise everything, consoles and games, etc.) that they end up meeting on the battlefield a few times, but mostly being barely relevant to each other (Surface Earphones don't really compete with AirPods, Duo DEFINITELY doesn't compete with iPhone, few cross-shop the iPad and Surface Pros or Surface Laptop and Macbook).
  • While I'm sure there's a fair amount of fanboying at play, I also think there's probably some legitimately ticked Surface customers. The iPad Pro is better than the Surface Pro at being a tablet and I'd say that it's a better choice for the vast majority of consumers. The Surface Pro is a much better device for productivity, but it's battery life is worse, its design is dated, the processor is weaker in every device except for the i7 versions, and the graphics are weaker across the board. (I'm not talking about the Pro 7+) Sure, I prefer the Surface, but I'm the target audience. I'm hoping Sun Valley and Project Reunion bring the UI refresh and apps that Windows needs, and that the Surface Pro 8 has the design refresh and specs it needs. The Surface Pro 7 is a great device, but trying to put it in the same league as the iPad Pro is a bad look.
  • All solid points until you said the iPad Pro is in another league. lol
    It's simple really.
    iPad Pro is the superior tablet that can do some work.
    Surface is a superior laptop that can do some tablet. That's it really.
    But the main differentiator is what ecosystem are you into. That answers the question for 75% prospective buyers before considering anything else.
  • No, I meant what I said. The iPad Pro is in another league. Better internals, better battery, more cohesive (though significantly less capable) OS, better quality display, more modern design. The Surface Pro is my go to for various reasons, but I'm not going to kid myself; if the Surface Pro had the internals of the Pro 7+, the exterior of the Pro X, and the UI of Windows 10X it would be a solid competitor in the consumer space, but it's not. Here's hoping for the 1, 2, punch of the Surface Pro 8 with Sun Valley.
  • Calling the design "dated" is how we get bad, lazy refreshes, IMO. It's called "dated," because it's gone unchanged for a while, but it's not inherently bad. Could the bezels be thinner? Sure, but they do make it a bit easier to hold without accidental touches in tablet mode. Could it have the curved edges of a SPX? Sure, but that doesn't provide any meaningful improvement to the thing, and you're in the "change for the sake of change" realm that just keeps the price high without any tangible benefits (whether or not the chassis difference is better is subjective). I've got my qualms with the Surface Pro, but not changing the chassis just to call it "new" isn't one of them. I think the design borders on perfect. They could slim the bezels for a slightly larger display without my griping, but they could go without such a change and I wouldn't mind. If there were anything I DID ask for, they covered it by improving port selection and adding the swappable drive slot with the SP7+.
  • Smaller bezels, rounded edges, and the swappable SSD are all things I'd like to see. Even the Typecover connector needs a refresh though, it would allow the Surface Pro to have the slim pen cradle in the Typecover just like the Pro X. The form factor is perfect, but the design IS dated. It's been 5 years with no change beyond dropping mini-displayport for USB-C. As far as costs go, I don't subscribe to the idea that change for the sake of change keeps prices high; Surfaces always have and always will command a higher price than the competition for their specs because Microsoft can't undercut their partner OEMs.
  • I use my Surface Pro in tablet mode, almost as much as a laptop. I dont want smaller bezels. This would just cause issues with holding it in a tablet manner. The bezels are fine as they are. Type cover would be fine, if the Pen stayed the same. I dont like the small Surface Pro X pen. There is nothing wrong with the current design. Not everything has to be changed every year. Its not an fashion accessory. Its a tool. They dont change the wrench every year, it works fine just the way it is.
  • Honestly, the only changes on the Surface Pro I would like to see are:
    - Removeable SSD
    - Smart Card reader integration
    - More LTE options
  • I have never used an Apple product, so I cant speak to its capabilities. What I do know about the Surface Pro 7 is that its good at what it was designed to do. Its great at note taking. Its great at productivity apps. It incorporates productivity with the Surface Pen very well. Are there others doing activities other than productivity on it? Sure. Could they be done better on other devices? Sure. But when I was looking for something light weight; a battery that would last a typical 8 hour day; handle use of all Microsoft office products and services (Sharepoint, OneNote, OneDrive, Teams, etc..); allow hand written notes that can be searched, referenced, converted; use of and edit PDFs; and store all of those files in a manner that can be sent quickly between other PCs, tablets, and smart phones (This is where Apple fails), The Surface Pro was the easy choice.
  • I don't know how Microsoft can go by with their ****** marketing. Jesus...
  • If you need a Windows laptop, there are much better choices than Microsoft. Windows 10 - and it's apps - are horrible to use without a mouse and keyboard. Comparing a Windows 10 laptop to an iPad is stupid. Yes, both are computers, but that's it. You might as well compare a microwave oven and a brick pizza oven. Yes, both are ovens, but that's it. It just shows how desperate MS has become.
  • One, I wouldn't say it shows a change for MS, given this isn't the first time they've dipped into comparing the Surface to iPads. Two, your analogy is really poor. Your comparison of two ovens isn't relevant because they meet two VERY different needs. In reality, the majority of iPad Pro and Surface Pro users are probably doing a lot of the same things; low-intensity tasks like browsing the web, sending messages on an app, and consuming media (Netflix, YouTube, etc.). It's more like a Prius vs. a Silverado--the Silverado has all of this extra room and towing capacity and such, but most people are barely doing more than what the more efficient Prius would help them with. Sadly, people say they need to "sit up high," so the parking lots get flooded with oversized vehicles driven by people who are dangerous enough to where I would rather they have no license, let alone a full-size pickup.
  • The downvotes are, IMO, because the comparison is dumb. Microsoft has long promoted the Surface Pro as "the tablet that can replace your laptop." Here, they go for the low-hanging fruit of a lazy comparison of iOS to full Windows. However, they aren't doing anything to compare the tablet advantages to the competition of full laptops. This is because Tablet Mode is still an afterthought and basically any 2-in-1 wins in general usability, thanks to a more sturdy chasses, better port selection, and often including the active stylus with your purchase. Sure, Microsoft doesn't want to go shaming their partner OEMs, but I'm not even convinced that they could if they tried. They've resigned themselves to marketing as a luxury brand against a different luxury brand, but the reality is that the number of people cross-shopping a Surface Pro and an iPad Pro is probably very small. You're either in for iOS or you're in for Windows, and not many are deciding between the two. Instead, people like me are where they have to do the convincing--give me a reason to buy a Surface Pro when it's going to cost me MUCH more than most 2-in-1s, while having less utility and inferior internals (basically only the screen is an advantage). I'll basically say what I've said about Surface for the last 2-3 generations: 1. AMD's chips are better. Put them in the Pro, and DEFINITELY expand them to the next Studio (in H-class chips, AMD kills Intel). Put it in the Book too, since it's the "productivity" tablet (again, where AMD excels). I'm not buying a Surface Laptop (AKA the Windows Macbook), and I'm not buying anything with Intel's inferior chips. Give me a Surface Pro or Book with AMD inside and I'll buy. 2. Put the Surface Pen back in the box. You're already priced above the competition that includes an active stylus in the box (Lenovo Flex, HP Envy, etc.). Just the Surface Pro tablet outprices the full package of the competition, then you want the $100+ for a Type Cover on top of it. AT LEAST stop making us throw another $100+ out the door for the Pen. Why does this need to be done now, but you got by with including the Surface Pen for the first 4 iterations? How about AT LEAST include it with the $1,500+ Book? 3. The Book's uniqueness is its failure. Not unlike the recently defunct LG mobile division, Microsoft's got an interesting idea that fails in practice. The form factor is mostly clunky, since you have to detach-flip-attach to switch between tablet and laptop mode. It's just not a great solution. If they can change to a 360-degree hinge that detaches, that'd be a major boon and I'd pay the upcharge on the Book over the Pro (again, if they use AMD CPUs). If they can't, I'd sooner see the Book give up the detaching and go with a 360-degree hinge that's easier to manage when you're out and about than having the super-portable tablet and a keyboard that's more a hindrance to portability than a help.
  • Great commercial, I get asked about my Surface Pro 7 and how I use it all the time. The kickstand is wonderful. I love that I can prop it on my body while lounging around to read and consume video without the keyboard in the way. And that I can hold it sideways to read my comics/books without the added weight of the keyboard attached and extra wide bezels to hold it however I want. The pen is great for my drawings/paintings in Clipstudio. I love that I can play my Xbox/Playstation/PC games on it and use a VPN to log into my PC and MAC at work to do real heavy lifting. I can't stand dongles so the ports it has is great for my use. It just does everything I need it to. And the price is worth how I use it.