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Microsoft communications manager slams iPad Pro as merely 'a companion device'

The recent launch of Apple's 12.9-inch iPad Pro tablet has generated lots of comparisons to Microsoft's Surface products. However, Dan Laycock, the Senior Communications Manager for Microsoft's Surface division, thinks his products offer more than Apple's.

iPad Pro

In a chat with Trusted Reviews, he stated:

"Microsoft really wants you to only carry one device for tablet and PC use," explains Laycock, speaking to us at the Consumer Electronics Show 2016 in Las Vegas. "Whereas the iPad Pro is always going to be a companion device." He adds: "The strategies are very different."

Like Microsoft's Surface tablets, there's an optional keyboard cover for the iPad Pro, along with a stylus. Laycock suggests that Apple copied Microsoft's strategy with these kinds of features:

"At one point in time, Apple declared that if there's a stylus, that's failure," continues Laycock. "We're a huge believer in the pen; we know our customers love it." The Communications lead goes on: "So to see Apple do something that feels a little bit similar, that is clearly skewed for a bigger screen, and more productivity built in, and the ability to use a pen." "We don't see it as a one-to-one comparison, because this is a full PC, you're running full apps."

Of course, the "full apps" argument is one that's been made many times before, and one that doesn't necessarily hold as much water as it did in years past. Microsoft has made their flagship Office apps available for the iPad, and even was on stage at the iPad Pro launch event to show off improvements they'd made to those apps for the new iOS tablet. And it's also worth noting that the stylus quote was attributed to the late Steve Jobs in an era of simple plastic stick pointers, who said "if you see a stylus, they blew it" — and neither Microsoft nor Apple refer to their respective pointing devices as styli (Surface Pen and Apple Pencil, respectively).

Source: Trusted Reviews

119 Comments
  • "Roadhouse."
  • It simply just means Apple is failing sales are down. They can't stay on top for ever.
  • Well, atleast Outlook and Skype is far better on iPad than on Surface but that might not be inclused in whats make you "productive"?
  • LOL what? Outlook 2016 on Windows 10 (or 8x or 7 for that matter) is, by FAR, the best version. Skype I couldn't say, because I don't use it.
  • Outlook 2016 will cost you extra (added cost to your Surface Pro). Outlook for iOS is free and much better than the crappy version you get with W10M/W10.
  • "Ghost"
  • "Dirty Dancing"
  • Red Dawn Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • It'll be interesting to see how Apple evolves the iPad Pro and iOS. I wouldn't declare it a companion device just yet, but it could be if Apple doesn't have the need or desire to make the iPad Pro a good production device
  • Like many companies. They strictly avoid overlapping products in the fear that one will canibalize the other. Apple drew a very strict line in the sand between iOS and OSX. As much as consumers which for a blending of the two, even if it were to be the logical next step, Apple will resist it for monitery reasons. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • In which way an ipad pro is different from a standard ipad?just the pen and screen size. So there's nothing new in the new ipad pro. Microsoft indeed with surface pro and surface book is evolving the concept that made ipad a huge success but Apple failed to develop. And we can see clearly this with the fact that only after 4 gen of Surface pro (and huge sales) apple started to make (just) a bigger ipad. At this round Microsoft is winning, and Apple is pursuing (badly) far behind.
  • Of course, the "full apps" argument is one that's been made many times before, and one that doesn't necessarily hold as much water as it did in years past. Microsoft has made their flagship Office apps available for the iPad, and even was on stage at the iPad Pro launch event to show off improvements they'd made to those apps for the new iOS tablet. And it's also worth noting that the stylus quote was attributed to the late Steve Jobs in an era of simple plastic stick pointers, who said "if you see a stylus, they blew it" — and neither Microsoft nor Apple refer to their respective pointing devices as styli (Surface Pen and Apple Pencil, respectively).
    Uh? WTF ? 
  • As well, while office may be on all platforms, they are still mobile "apps". They are nice for quick hits and basic stuff, but in no way can they replace the desktop software.
  • Which part of that is unclear?
  • Are you retarded?
  • A Windows Central article that brings in facts from both sides?! Inconceivable!! /s
  • Ricardo Dawkins, you need me to explain that to you? Or are you just shocked that he did not spew the fanboy rhetorics that you have come to expect. Get over it! So refreshing. 
  • Refreshing to those itching for comments against Microsoft I guess.
  • STFU. Its an idiotic thing to say as if "office" is the only ******* x86 application there is. Give me a ******* break. Photoshop, illustrator, premier, AutoCAD, pro tools, visual studio... The list goes on. Doesn't hold as much weight? Only a ******* imbecile would say that. And only an idiot would agree.
  • Yeah this whole last paragraph is so ******* ridiculous. Lol!
  • @iyae, all you do is go around and call people idiot, don't you see that you need a girl in your life(assuming you're a man) that's why you're so mad at the world???
  • I disagree that having access to full apps doesn't hold water. For example, I can't think of a single drawing app on Android or iOS that is as good as something like Manga Studio nor can I think of apps that are as interoperable with each other as one that might be found on a desktop. Too many apps rely on the fact that you are using an underpowered device and try to be self-contained because they don't "talk" to other apps. Once you use a Windows tablet, it's hard to downgrade to another tablet because none of the competition is as versatile.
  • Well, to be fair, nowhere in the article it's been said that it doesn't hold water. Read again
  • Fine, he said it "doesn't necessarily hold as much water" and I still disagree since iPads, including the "Pro" edition, are still predominantly consumption devices by nature of the way Apple has designed the OS.
  • Oh, I totally agree with you. IPad "PRO" is ridiculous. Just wanted to point out that "not as much as it used to" is hugely different than "not at all". Sorry about my tone
  • It's all good. I shouldn't have spoken in absolutes when that isn't the tone the author used originally.
  • Thank you =) If only people were as reasonable there.... wouldn't be more than 10 comments per article =D
  • Totally agree. ios isn't made for productivity.
  • I totally loved reading this thread. This is how comments should go. It would make the internet so much nicer.
  • I agree on that.
  • I tried both, the iPad Pro and Surface Pro 4. I mean really, the iPad Pro can't hold a candle against the Surface Pro 4. It's still an iPad and calling it a companion device is not really slamming it. It is what it is.
  • Agreed. Calling that a slam smells like click-bait.
  • Agreed. I think the author read more insult into the comment than was intended.
  • Well said
  • The iPad Pro can't even hold up against the Surface 3, let alone the Surface Pro 3, let alone the Surface Pro 4.
  • Surface 1/2 could be a fair comparison
  • True. And the iPad Pro is way better than the Surface 1 and 2 imo. But no where near Surface 3(pro)/Surface Pro 4...
  • Why go so far, just take iPhone for instant all I see my colleague did was on Facebook and games all day long.
  • Why is the IPAD pro even in the same conversation as the Surface Pros or any Surface for that matter?
  • Maybe cos it's not running Windows 10? Honestly I love my SP4 but the OS is sooo glitchy. Switching it on causes problems half the time (it won't come on). Rotating it sometimes results in half an app on screen. The on screen keyboard doesn't pop up half the time. Freezes and screen locks... It's so frustrating.
  • The iPad Pro doesn't really do anything to earn the name 'Pro'. It's an iPad XL, with a keyboard accessory. It really doesn't have a clear purpose or reason for being, other than to attempt to be alongside the competition.
  • Exactly
  • It is not PRO for professional. It's PRO for Profit... Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Bazinga. Posted via the Note 4/Nexus 7 (2013)/Lumia 1020/Lumia 2520
  • More like to match the competition's price tag, it even surpasses the i5 Surface Pro 4 ($1130) with it's stylus ($100) and keyboard ($170) accessories...
  • Used them both and the iPad Pro can't hold a candle to the SP4. The office apps on the iPad pro are nice, but the full capability of Office 2016 on the SP4 simply affords no comparison. It's useless to even be talking about the two devices in the same breath. Sort of like how the Surface RT and iPad 4 couldn't even be compared because the iPad 4 was superior in every way back then.
  • Dan_JT
    Actually the surface RT/2 WAS better than the iPad in many ways. Here's a few: Stereo speakers, USB 3.0, separate HDMI port, 1080p resolution, kickstand, flash support, snaps up to 3 apps at the same time and all apps could do that including the camera. IPad Pro can't even do that.
  • Is that really a "slam"? Talk about click bait.
  • Obviously, the writer doesn't know the true difference between a mobile app and the full blown versions.
  • I hate the "if it has a pen it is a failure" quote. Because, I don't think it is entirely honest. I don't believe that Jobs thought pen input was pure and simply bad. I think he meant that it needs to react to your finger first and foremost. Try drawing with your finger though, for most it is awkward as hell because we are use to using pencils and pens. In other words, I wish this quote would die already.
  • Kinda seems like your putting his quote in a context that wasn't there. Posted via the Note 4/Nexus 7 (2013)/Lumia 1020/Lumia 2520
  • This should have come out from Microsoft when Tim Cook was slamming the Surface Book as being "diluted".
  • I think I made a mistake when I purchased this app because it seems as if windows central supports Google and Apple more than Microsoft. I mean the article reads like the author is offended. :-o
  • Or maybe its just you reading it like that.
  • The author sought to debunk some of the arguments put forward, talking about the late Steve jobs said stylus, which neither Microsoft not Apple uses in there description of the surface pen or Apple pencil. Just read it carefully you will see what in saying. Amongst the stupid Google pics they keep displaying and videos on how to make Google the default search engine.
  • How old are you? Real question.  So, is it wrong for the writer to be balanced? You just want him to say the Surface is the greatest thing in the world and Apple is BS. Everything they say is BS.  Sorry, but that is for kids. Adults know better. We know what Steve meant when he made that comment. If he does not convey that in his article, he loses all credibility. Also, it is clear that the SP4 is more versatile than the iPad Pro. If you need the writer to point that out to you.......
  • @jbestman I don't date men so no need to tell you my age. Anyone can say what they want but this is Windows Central! Get it? We don't put Crapple or Scroogle over Microsoft here. I know we(windows platform) have issues but we will not tolerate articles that goes against Microsoft for speaking the truth about Apple's product. Remember that Tim Cooke was the first one to bash the surface line (surface book).
  • I think its a fair topic to bring up. When Jobs said it it was in that context. They didnt have smart pens like the surface pen. Its like Apple Sheep quoting that Ballmer said no one would buy the iPhone because it was too expensive. He was right. It was too expensive. A few months later they lowered the price and it started to sell well. And the point about the not holding as much water as it once did is also true. Although not their yet, arm is becoming more powerful and can do more. I think what Windows Central is doing is just showing off the full range of options for Windows 10. You can change your default search and Google is the most common goto for people and search. I use Bing for 95% of my searches. Others dont. Its ok to know other things. Microsoft themselves have taken a new stance on Apple at least. They even sang to them about peace. =) I for one dont want the same blind fanboyism that I see on every single Apple site in the world and almost every single Google site. Its ok to be reasonable about other products. And we can be with Surface because it is the best of that form factor. Its the best tablet PC out there and Google and Apple want to copy it but cant yet. Because its beyond what they can do. That should be satisfying for sure as a Windows 10 fan =D!
  • It's not offended. Wrf you're saying?
  • No profanity please
  • I read it like that too.
  • So far I'm happy with my iPad.
  • I've only ever heard 8-year-olds and octogenarians say that.
  • Of course you're happy with your iPad. It's not like any other device plays nice in your Apple-centered ecosystem. That said, you liking it doesn't mean it is actually a better or more useful device than the competition.
  • Well where I work it actually is better than the competition in some regards. A lot of digital sound desks have apps available to control the desk from an iPad, they don't have similar software for windows. That being said on my side of the table (lighting) an iPad isn't sufficient as it doesn't push enough power to run a dmx line (technically neither does the surface pro 3 because it only has a low power usb, I had to buy the dock to properly run my lighting set up). It would be nice if they updated the usb on the surface pro 4 because the one on the pro 3 can't do a lot of things (you can't even connect a disc drive up to it without the drive stuttering and losing connection). Once that happens I would be able to run my setup untethered, which would be a real boon.
  • It's not a lie, no proper photoshop, no proper lightroom, no illustrator, no real 3d software like zbrush,maya,3dsmax,blender,lightwave,cinema4d, no autocad  program, or bim program like revit. no real editing software like resolve, premiere, hitfilm, Sony software (waste of time now, but it used to be good). or compositing or mograph or both, after effects, fusion, nuke, hitfilm. and I can name many other software from other industries, like videogames, no unreal, unity, cryengine, stingray.... so what makes this a pro level device? nothing. it's just another ipod oversized. with mobile limited apps that wouldn't do anything professionally, it's more for fun but for professional work? nah. ​For example, I heard people saying that apple pencil (with no eraser) is comparable to wacom... really? people are so blind that make that stuff up? it's more comparable to other ntrig like surface 3 and 4, and while good, it's not good for everything on the designing part. but if i got a surface at least I can hook my Wacom tablet and keep working there. so I can avoid using the surface ntrig pen and that's something you can't even do with ipad pro.
    I know some people love believing on a stupid 120fps video saying how Pencil is better than Surface Pen. but it's all a big BS. They are similar, same level, still not like Wacom. The only thing Microsoft should work with big companies, and try to make them use something like Continuum for their win32 software, so people can use them with touch and still have a full PC software. there is Dynamic Auto Painter by Mediachance. and they change their win32 app depending on if you have the keyboard attaced or not. so it would be nice if Microsft worked so developers would take advantage of it. they wouldn't have to make a store app, just giving users the choice to use a touch optimized UI if necessary would be nice. and that would be easier than fully porting their apps to iOS and iPad Pro toy. Anyway I am sure if people expect to use the surface as a pro device, they would want to use the full desktop version but continuum mode should be nice for many users.
  • You should have written this article. Your arguments are on point, cheers.
  • Even if it is a companion device it still out-sells the surface products... MS has some great products on the table, but they cant get too cocky until they outsell apple, and come out with products that don't need a bunch of firmware updates after release to work properly. I am not a huge fan of apple products myself, but I understand the appeal of buying something that 'just works' even if what works on it is limited in scope.
  • What are you even doing here, I though you were a fan of Apple? Bye troll.
  • When did the iPad Pro start out selling the Surface Pro 4.. I have seen nothing indicating that. How many iPad Pro's have been sold so far, do you have any numbers on that, because Apple sure have not released any yet.
  • Sure he has numbers for that, he just has to bend over and finish checking his butt for them. ;-)
  • Lol
  • He never said iPad Pro. IPads in general outsell Surfaces.
  • Since this entire article is about the iPad Pro and it being a companion product, of course he is talking about the Pro. He even used the same language as it's written in the article and has not shown up again to clarify whether or not he was talking about the Pro or iPads in general. Pick your battles, hon.
  • Where have you seen the iPad Pro sales figures exactly? I wasn't aware that Apple had released any info on that yet. I'd be stunned to see that the iPad Pro is outselling any Surface tablet.
  • He's going to say he said " out sell Apple" and not iPad pro LOL
  • He did, idiot. Get some balance. We are all here cos we like MS stuff but it's far from perfect and you need to accept that in your young blinkered life.
  • @Chris Sandiford, the joke is on you because I'm being sarcastic. That's why I said that before he did.
  • No he didn't, idiot
  • I was thinking the same. And then if course rumors on internet will spread that ms is attacking Apple because of articles titles like this. Please remove the slams.
  • Of course. Of COURSE Appleheads will be all over this article, along with every tech news publication out there.
  • This was absolutely not a slam. You're right. It was more of an expression of the truth.
  • He speaks the truth.
  • i call it iToy pro ... points of view :)
  • iToy XL
  • Typically the negative stylus comment is in response to devices that REQUIRE a stylus. If it's an optional accessory, then I don't think it is a failure. If you'd asked me in the first week of using my SP3 then I'd say the pen was required... but a year on, I can safely say that I almost never use it. In fact, just looking around I can see my type cover sitting in a corner (also rarely used) and the pen I just found in a drawer. If I ever need finer pointer control, then I just use the Touch Mouch Pointer application, which works like a charm. I think the pen just enhances the experience for drawing and note-taking, but can't be considered essential to navigate the OS (which would be a failure)
  • the device isn't the problem. iOS isn't up for productivity work. but that's something Apple will likely address.
  • Ha it's true
  • Fun fact, since we are comparing ipad pro and surface pro 4,i was looking for a used surface pro 4 online and luckily found a seller too. Seller had sp3 and sp4 on sell, so i put an offer and the seller says sp3and sp4 both re very mich same just little bigger screen and highter resolution. So i asked the seller are you aware of the face recognition functionality in sp4? He was like dude, trust me there is no such thing in sp4. I was sure since i follow blogs and thought of visiting microsoft website and notised they are actually not highliting that feature on their webpage. You actually have to work hard to find the barely explained feature. Microsoft seriously? Apple probably would put it on their front page. :(
  • I don't see the place for the iPad pro at all. The normal iPad and mini are excellent media consumption devices with fair prices. But the pro is an overpriced underpowered pseudo-PC.
  • This companion device has more high quality apps than windows. And I am a Windows fan.
  • While being unable to run actual programs and being around the same price as a surface pro. Let's not.
  • What makes an app high quality exactly? I always though that meant a tiny application that was pretty, touch-friendly, and trying to imitate a desktop program as much as possible with limited resources. It's also what a company creates when they don't feel like making a decent website with the same functionality.
  • You are delusional
  • Its basicallly true. The IPAD Pro doesn't offer any difference between it , and a regular IPAD. It just has a bigger screen, that's it. What's the point of that? You can only install apps from the apple store, and nothing like photoshop or any real buisness programs like you can on a macbook pro.
  • I mean, he is right. iPads are just larger sized iPhones.
  • Apple got Tim COO(C)K and Microsoft got Dan LayCOCK... That's a joke right?
  • IPad Pro does too little things but it does what it can do extremely well. The lack of touch friendly apps make Surfaces not doing justice to their hardware. I'll buy a Surface after college and I can only hope that the touch friendly tablet apps are there.
  • That apps straw excuse is holding less and less value everyday. There are 725,000 iPad optimized apps (goo. gl/24fdw) on the app store after 5 years of existence, that's not much bigger compared to 669,000 Windows Store apps (goo. gl/JTDqto), all of which are tablet optimized, after just 3 years...not to talk of the millions of full-fledged desktop apps, many of which are becoming touch-friendly without dumbing down on features (e.g. Microsoft Office 2013, AutoCAD 2016, Adobe CC suit, etc.). On top of that, loads of apps (including games, ports of websites, downloaders/uploaders, file shearers, etc.) on the AppStore are to counter-act the fact that you don't have a web browser with the ability to run flash content and download/upload any file type, you don't have a central file manager, AND you can't try an app before purchasing it (hence loads of lite and pro duplicates). Many of which are easily replaced with Edge + Tablet PC Mouse Windows Store app (for on-screen touch controls in flash-based games), File Explorer, and Windows Store's Try before you buy via 1 app installation (so, no lite/pro duplicates making up for the numbers). Finally, combine all of that with instant access to every android app via emulators, and that "apps" excuse is literally just BS...
  • How naive of you think 669,000 is the number of apps in Windows store that you can run on Surface. It is the sum of apps in Windows Store for Windows 8.x, Windows Phone 8.x and Universal Apps for Windows 10. Windows Phone Store has around 400,000 apps so just subtract that amount from 669,000 and you'll be left with only 269,000 apps in Windows Store. Not to mention that many of the apps are common in Windows 8 Store and Windows 10 store. You would have to subtract those too. Did I say it didn't run native Windows apps? Then why your second paragraph? And yes, I won't be running heavy apps on Surface.
  • I think iPad doesn't have a funtionality as PC. But Surface isn't a tablet. The UWPs are so poor. I need a mouse when I use Surface.
  • Here's a thought Microsoft. If the Surface should not be thought of as a companion device how about you DONT TREAT IT LIKE ONE and start bundling the keyboard with it instead of making it an "accessory"???????? Until that point in time its really a tablet that has the capability of running desktop apps.
  • They can bundle it if u want, but it'll cost more. So what's the point?
  • Nope, the Surface still wouldn't be just a companion device because it has all of the same functions as a laptop. It doesn't need to be hooked up to another device to be useful like an iPad that needs a computer and iTunes to do basic things like add files. You're just upset because you don't want to spend extra money.
  • It doesn't though, for a surface to function like a laptop you need not just the keyboard but the dock as well. The USB Port is a low power Port, it cannot handle any strenuous tasks.
  • I think you are missing the point of what I am saying to him. A person can have just the Surface without the accessories and, unless they need more power or plan to do loads of typing, still get by without hooking it up to a computer. I know where you are coming from since you already described your job above, but I also know people who use their Surface with the ports included on it and almost never use their type over and still would choose it over an iPad because of sheer versatility which, again, puts it a lot closer to a laptop and a lot farther from an iPad.
  • What's a pencil without a rubber :P
  • Yes, the iPad Pro is a compagnion device and it will not ever replace a PC.
    ​ However: The apps (and their handling) are still much better for this compagnion device
    than those ones which are available for W10(M) should they be available at all. A customer who light-heartedly has shelled out this lot of money
    for this  iPad Pro compagnion device isn't very likely to complain and will just be happy with it as it is. You will not be able to write and format a long-winding book or a complex scientific paper on an iPad Pro 
    but there won't be anybody who has this kind of idea in mind when they go for one.  Apple customers are more like to present the result of their work on an iPad Pro 
    and also produce/edit some memos comprising just a few pages
    and will be happy with what they have.         .    
  • I'd like to point out that when Steve Jobs said styli were stupid, Windows Tablet PCs were indeed using active digitizer pens like the Surface uses now. So, even though styli were used on Palm devices (and some others), and this may have been what Jobs was talking about, the technology our pens use today is the same technology we had before the iPad. /rant
  • Anybody with any sense can see how the iPad Pro is Apple's first generation attempt at creating that one device to be both enterprise class and carryover the mobile benefits. This guy exemplifies the type of short sighted statement mindset of communications.
  • The problem with that statement is that Tim Cook has specifically said that they will never combine iOS and OSX, meaning they have no intention of bringing over compatibility with more powerful programs. They are trying to imitate Microsoft without putting in the needed effort in hardware or programming. Microsoft has spent billions unifying their entire ecosystem from desktop, to phones, to tablets. What is Apple doing with the pile of money they are sitting on? Not putting nearly enough back into their products, that's what.
  • John Callaham, do you have any smptons of hot temper? I curious how you find this "slamming"...
  • I am not one to bash Apple since I like IOS/OSX but I cannot disagree with Dan Laycock on his opinion about the ipad. Yes, its quick and does a lot but productivity isn't what ipads are for. I have two of them. I use it sometimes on WC forums but leaving comments, uploading images on them is the worse experience ever. My company bought bunch of these things because they thought they would make people more "portable". They are now in the process of replacing them with Surface and Dell tablets after 8 months of trying to get the ipads to perform.  They just don't. They are great consumable devices but for full on work?  They simply don't.
  • I really wish they didn't try to defend apple with their iPad "pro." I get trying to compete, but this is blatantly half-assed copying. And calling the device for what it is isn't a slam, it's just pointing out the obvious fact that it's not a full desktop experience. Saying that it doesn't hold as much water is a bit of a stretch considering their competitors are trying to duplicate the same tech.
  • Ok, ok. Ok. I have surface 3 and I can't say that it can replace my desktop either! Nothing is working well enough to forget desktop. Specially internet connection or even temporarily lack of it makes everything horrible eg Outlook 360. There is always something wrong with wifi. Touchable interface elements are too small, not like on iPad. It is another example of Microsoft not doing their job correctly to the end. I stay with desktop...
  • There are more iPhone fans than MS fans, so I will accept, they will sell more. But it wont change my preference with Surface.
  • I saw (not played) with a iPad Pro just before Christmas (only went to collect some free wrapping paper - thanks O2!), and didn't realise how large the thing was! The salesman really tried to big it up (no pun intended), but I said that I use my Surface for office like things - so would really need something with a decent keyboard and I prefer an external mouse (USB), not to mention the plethora of desktop programs (not apps) that I'd like/need to use. Any iPad would just not work.
  • Great comments. Well, most of them. Reading the comments above has clarified, for me, the real world, best use of the companion device for consumption using apps not software.
  • He's not wrong... Posted via the Windows Central App for Android