Happy birthday Microsoft Surface: 8 years old and still innovating

Surface Pro 7 vs Surface Pro X
Surface Pro 7 vs Surface Pro X (Image credit: Daniel Rubino/Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft launched its first Surface device eight years ago.
  • The Surface lineup pushed computing form factors and inspired many devices.
  • The Surface family now includes 2-in-1s, laptops, desktops, enterprise hubs, and a folding phone.

Microsoft unveiled the Surface lineup eight years ago. The big-bezelled original Surface devices launched with Windows 8 and came in a then at the time new form factor, a convertible 2-in-1. Since the initial Surface launch, Microsoft has refined the Surface 2-in-1 concept through 7 iterations, multiple size spinoffs, and the Surface family expanded to other device categories.

More than pen support, flipping around, or kickstands, the Surface lineup has always been about innovation. Microsoft's Surface family strives to push stagnant categories forward. The greatest influence of the Surface lineup is likely the influx of 2-in-1s that are now on the market. Once a novel idea, convertibles are now commonplace, and just about every major manufacturer has at least dipped their foot into the form factor.

Surface Pro 3

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Memes really do come true, which was evidenced by Apple's shift to have iPads become more and more like computers. In just a few short years, Apple shifted from the infamous "What's a computer" ad to its "Your next a computer is not a computer" ad. That shift is a microcosm of the push by Microsoft's Surface line. 2-in-1s haven't replaced laptops — and were probably never meant to — but they've become a viable category on their own.

Microsoft has also greatly expanded the Surface lineup. Since the early days of the Surface Pro and Surface RT, we've seen Microsoft release the Surface Book, Surface Laptop, Surface Studio, and Surface Go lines. While some pushed boundaries more than others, such as the Surface Book detaching its screen from its base, they all innovated in some way and drove manufacturers to step up their game.

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Surface Duo 2020

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Microsoft has also ventured into new categories and architectures to showcase how things can work. The Surface Pro X runs on a Snapdragon processor, and the Surface Duo delivers a dual-screen Android experience based on productivity.

Not every Surface device has been a success, but the family as a whole has grown rapidly over eight years, and people look forward to Microsoft's major events announcing more devices each year.

What's your favorite Surface device? Let us know in the comments below.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.