Microsoft's Surface Pro is a laptop no matter what anyone says

Five years ago Microsoft launched Surface Pro as "the tablet that can replace your laptop." That tagline and product positioning were relevant and strategically necessary for Microsoft during that time.

In 2013 slate tablets were still very popular and were even predicted as eventual laptop replacements. With Surface Microsoft was playing catchup with iPads and Android tablets.

Additionally, that catchy tagline was Microsoft's way of emphasizing Surface's desktop productivity strength (laptop) while avoiding its app-related weaknesses as a tablet. It is this foundation that sets the context for the Surface "being" a laptop, albeit a uniquely designed, packaged and marketed one. Let's take a closer look.

Zac Bowden: No matter what Microsoft says Surface Pro is not a laptop - it's a tablet

See Surface Pro at Microsoft (opens in new tab)

Marketing Surface on Microsoft's strengths

Positioning Surface Pro was a unique challenge for Microsoft. It needed slate-shaped hardware to compete in the then vibrant tablet space. Unfortunately, though the word "tablet" accurately characterizes the device's hardware shape, a hardware-software synergy defined consumer's "tablet" experience and the business models of market leaders. Simply put, consumers were accustomed to tablet experiences inextricably tied to mobile OSes and vibrant app ecosystems.

Consequently, it would have been strategically foolish for Microsoft to wholly rest the Surface's messaging on its tablet experience. Microsoft didn't have a successful mobile OS or robust touch-centric app ecosystem, but it had Windows, the world's most popular and productive desktop OS.

Thus, "Surface as the tablet (slate hardware) that can replace your laptop (Windows PC)", was a juggling act of positioning needed slate-shaped hardware in the tablet space, while downplaying OS and app weaknesses as a tablet, by emphasizing its Windows PC strength as a laptop. Surface creator Panos Panay's comparisons of Surface Pro to Macbook, buttressed by a statement that he wouldn't compare it to a tablet because there was no tablet in its class, emphasizes Surface's laptop focus.

Surface is a modular laptop Zac, not a tablet

My colleague Zac Bowden expressed strong feelings about Microsoft's new, "Surface Pro is the most versatile laptop", tagline. His arguments rest primarily on the devices "tablet" form factor when no keyboard's attached, its packaging without a keyboard and the Surface family's lack of diversity if Surface Pro, like Surface Book and Surface Laptop, is also a laptop.

Bowden's strongest argument is that since the device isn't packaged with the Type Cover then it's a tablet. The laptop experience (like the tablet experience), however, is the result of both a hardware and software synergy. The Surface with or without a keyboard is running software optimized for a laptop experience (opposite its rivals). Microsoft knows this, and that's, in part, why it pushed the "tablet that can replace your laptop" tagline. Combined with Microsoft's marketing and consumer's familiarity with Windows as a desktop OS most would see Surface Pro as a uniquely designed PC. Thus, the keyboard, even if not included would be perceived as a necessary component of this modular PC that would be used mostly as a laptop.

Windows Central writers are known for our analysis on how evolving technology often leads to the redefining of traditional form factors. The Surface Pro's modular design may therefore be a redefining of the laptop category not bound by the traditional parameters Bowden enforces.

How Microsoft changed Surface Pro conversation from tablet to laptop focus

Separate packaging, maximum profits

Type Covers

Type Covers (Image credit: Windows Central)

For better or worse Microsoft took advantage of an opportunity to profit on the Surface's modular design by selling the keyboard separately. Business is business.

Surface Pro as a modular laptop introduced a new distribution, packaging and business model that traditional laptops didn't have. In fact, Bowden concedes that if the keyboard came packaged with the main device, he would let the new slogan slide.

Since Microsoft is currently offering bundles to that effect, perhaps Bowden would now agree Surface Pro is a laptop.

How Surface changed Microsoft forever

All in the Surface family

Surface Family

Surface Family (Image credit: Microsoft)

Image credit Microsoft (opens in new tab)

Bowden argues that three laptops – the Surface Pro, Surface Laptop and Surface Book – and a desktop, the Studio, confuses what the Surface family has to offer. He argued Microsoft can reach a wider audience if it marketed the:

  • Surface Pro: as a tablet that can be a laptop.
  • Surface Laptop: as a pure laptop.
  • Surface Book: as a 2-in-1 that's a pretty good laptop.

Ironically, Bowden's proposed marketing plan focuses on these devices as laptops just like Microsoft's does. It's difficult getting away from the software side of the Surface Pro, Windows, that drives it toward a predominantly laptop usage pattern regardless of the form factor.

Anecdotally, I use my Surface Pro very much like I've used my laptops in the past. I prop it on a desk, table, or on my lap when sitting on the couch, in the car or in bed, just as I did my laptops. The device is quite "lapable." Furthermore, I purchased it as a tool for writing and running my business using Office and other productivity software, just as I would a laptop.

And though I am also using my Surface for art and consumption, most Surface buyers are likely like me – we wanted a Windows PC for Windows PC stuff. The tablet aspects are certainly wanted (otherwise we could've opted for a traditional laptop) but are secondary characteristics of this "most versatile laptop."

Why Microsoft Store wouldn't sell this enthusiast a Surface Pro bundle

More accurate marketing

Microsoft calling Surface Pro the most versatile laptop, given its shortcomings as a tablet and strengths as a laptop, is likely a more accurate tagline than the "tablet that can replace your laptop." That tagline put it's less capable tablet positioning at the forefront. The new slogan reverses that by placing the more formidable laptop qualities and common usage first and foremost.

This unique laptop with a detached keyboard tablet mode and "drafting table-like" Studio mode is indeed a versatile laptop.

So who do you agree with, yours truly Jason L Ward or Zac Bowden? Let us know in comments.

See Surface Pro at Microsoft (opens in new tab)

Jason Ward

Jason L Ward is a columnist at Windows Central. He provides unique big picture analysis of the complex world of Microsoft. Jason takes the small clues and gives you an insightful big picture perspective through storytelling that you won't find *anywhere* else. Seriously, this dude thinks outside the box. Follow him on Twitter at @JLTechWord. He's doing the "write" thing!

  • So, what is a Surface laptop then, a tablet? Not to be rude but ultimately, who really cares? I carry the thing for onsite work and never once think, I better get my laptop out of the bag. I think of it as a mobile device, that is all.
  • No, ManofGod1000 Surface laptop is not a tablet. No argument is made to that end, in fact I make reference to the Surface Pro, Surface Laptop and Surface Book all as laptops - just different types.
  • IDK, Jason... My Surface 3 in hand with no keyboard, and the stand retracted, feels like a damn tablet to me. Lol
  • That's because its a versatile laptop. :-) Lol
  • Or a versatile tablet.
  • Lol. So, why isn't it ok to call it a "versatile tablet?
    Let's say my parents are mixed black/white. Do I have to call myself black? Or, is it acceptable to call myself black, white, or mixed?
    Could someone argue that I'm black, but not white? Lol. I just saying.
  • If the Surface Pro was 50/50 tablet/laptop then you might have a point. The Surface Pro is more like 95% laptop though. An easy test: if your grandmother asked for a tablet, would you even consider a Windows device?
  • yes lolo lolo lol
  • Lord help your grandparents. Prepare yourself for many hours of tech support and asking where the keys went... or go droid.
  • Aspirin or non aspirin?
  • You have to admit that I do have a pretty solid point.😉😆
  • So, if I sold you a "desktop" computer without the keyboard, would it cease being a desktop computer? If it walks like a laptop, talks like a laptop, and does everything your laptop does, it's a laptop.
  • Lets just call it a convertible.
  • So, by your logic, a smartphone is a laptop?
  • Except when you use it as a tablet.
  • Except when you use it as a tablet.
  • Hey Rodney without restating the points I argue in the piece regarding Microsoft's intentional positioning of it as a laptop, thier comparisons of it to laptops and not tablets, the desktop OS which optimizes it for laptop, not tablet usage, the dominant usage patterns of Surface as a laptop rather than tablet in most cases...together...position it as a laptop rather than tablet. :-)
  • I know I know. I understand your angle. Just giving you a hard time... Besides someone has to be an idiot (or uniformed consumer) to buy, or not buy, a device because of what the majority classify it as... That's why its so Important, or not important, to classify devices correctly.... See what I did there? I just contradicted every one of my points so that nobody can argue with me. 😆😆
  • Now why do you want to go and give me a hard time? Lol :-)
  • Because I'm mad at you... You haven't given me any Andromeda hope in a long time.. As a matter of fact, WC hasn't mentioned it in awhile. For a minute there there was news almost everyday, now nothing. What's the deal?
  • Maybe WC came to it’s senses and gaveup on that delusional junk that only you desperate fanboys dream about.
  • You're saying MS isn't working on anything? Do you have proof?
  • If Windows 10 will run on Intel and ARM, and tablets will have telephony, why would MS NOT produce a Windows 10 ARM tablet with telephony small enough to pocket? Most of the work is already done.
    Some of us don't want to screw around with another OS, another interface, integration issues, minimized work integration. Business also wants a single OS, single interface that will run all desktop, laptop apps and reduce support, app implementation,and education costs.
    A pocketable Windows tablet with telephony is the only thing that makes sense. I think MS will do it. The twinkle in the eye of the guy at the MS Store last week while saying he didn't think it would happen, said it all.
  • You haven't said anything about the new apps for Windows Phone in the store! Published two whole days ago and I ain't talking about PWA either. Real apps. Why would they do that if Windows Phone is dead?
  • What developers do is none of MS concern in Mobile anymore. If the dev's want to waste money on that dead platform...go ahead.
  • ARM, however is NOT dead. Mobile is no longer needed. Any new phone will just be a pocketable Windows 10 tablet with LTE, like its bigger brother tablet.
  • The last few Monthly Windows 10 Mobile updates have been labeled "Windows 10 for ARM", no mention of the word Mobile.
  • I don't want a tablet. I want a phone running MS. That's the thing. There are many others like me as well. This new foldable TABLET is not going to replace my phone. No....It's not supposed to, but they need to make a true MOBILE device. Not another LTE tablet.
  • I have a Surface Pro 4, a Surface 3, and a Dell Venue 8 Pro. Use each daily and I never use the desktop. Full screen start screen all the way. There is no need to use the desktop anymore.
  • Yeah but we're not talking about what's on your head.
  • Lol
  • Hahahaha. Really funny. I can't stop laughing.
  • Microsoft should stop worrying about taglines and do something to restore confidence in the reliability of the hardware. Replacing our flickergate sp4s would be a good start
  • *eye roll*
  • MY SP4 is perfect.
  • So is my S3 and my 950?XL.
  • Could this be the flickering you mention and its solution?
  • So, that means my little Atom 8inch Windows device is a laptop too? Seems to follow your software reasoning. But... it really doesn't seem like a laptop to me in style, usage or power. I think the Surface might be a convertible, or a powerful tablet, but its key feature is that you can detach the keyboard and move away from lap use. Heck, it'd be tough to balance it on a lap anyway. To call it a laptop implies a restriction that simply isn't there. It'd be like calling a not-Phone a phone. You could justify it, but it would be misleading.
  • In your description of your Atom 8inch Windows device you highlight limitations of the device, specifically in areas of USAGE, POWER and STYLE that cause it NOT to fit the description I gave as a laptop. You chose one characteristic and, the SOFTWARE reasoning and ran with that while leaving the rest out and used that as a rebuttal. :-) Come on Andy, you know that logic doesn't work. LOL Now concerning Surfaces lapability, as I note in the piece, I use it just like my previous laptops. It works great on my lap. Now my wife who has shorter legs she seem to have more of a challenge with lapability, so I think that experience is based on the individual.
  • Yep, it was a poor post done on the bus and hardly comprehensive. I voted you up on that one. Still, compare this to the new ARM Windows laptops. These are clearly laptops in form factor, but with the functionality of tablets. And the Surface? A tablet in form factor, but with the functionality previously associated with laptops. Isn't there an argument that if we should consider the Surface Pro as a laptop, we should also consider the ARM 'laptops' as tablets? That is, unless we're saying the software is a defining factor and that nothing running Windows can constitute a tablet which I disagree with. It is good to hear you do not consider the software to be a defining factor, as Windows is supposed to be adaptable to any form factor rather than requiring the devices it runs on to fit in to the laptop concept. Truth is, these devices are at the margins of their form factors and can start to bleed over and cover tasks that used to be firmly attached to a single form factor, and that's fine. Really, form factor says nothing more about a device than giving the user an idea of where they can use it. It is the only factor to consider, the form the device takes, hence the term 'form factor'. So to call it a laptop means to me (and many) a portable computer you need to place on a surface to use in a practical way. If it is a tablet, I can go further and dump that keyboard making it usable when I'm not sitting at a table (or at a pinch on my lap on a sofa, but that's pretty awful to do with a lappy). Form factors might merge as with the notebook/ultrabook terminology. Those devices have become laptops because the original laptop form factor is long dead (remember the heavy beasts with handles built in?) and so the distinction was no longer necessary. Thing is, you need a surface to use all the 'laptop' devices over the years (except convertibles, which change form factors physically and so are not both but are either) so they were a progression. One replaced the other. No such will happen with tablets, since even if they do all the tasks of a laptop they will still be flexible enough to move away from the desk so they'll never take on the role of a PC that requires a surface. To call them a laptop indicates strongly that they are not very suitable for physically using away from a table because of their physical form. That would be misleading. About as misleading as calling an ARM laptop a tablet. The form factor of a device is all about highlighting the physical limits to its practical usage, that's the point of a form factor label and it is useful for customers.
  • If you define a tablet as an iPad which most do, then yeah windows being a professional OS like Apple OSX then yes, you can say that all pcs are portable laptops with touch. I do use my Surface pro in every facet that it offers and I call it a hybrid to people I don't call it a tablet. I can see where the author is going and to most it likely serves as a tablet, but I'd say it is a hybrid device.
  • Here's the thing. When you look at the Surface Pro in comparison to Surface Laptop and Surface Book you can see the defining label of the most versatile laptop, with Studio Mode which neither of those laptops have and tablet mode, which only the book has. And that represanative of how the Surface Pro compares to most laptops in the market. So highlighting the tablet functionality to disengage it from the laptop category when its Tablet and Studio modes are actually part of the defining characteristics of its catergorization as the most versatile laptop, still doesn't work. :-D lol
  • Isn't form factor more about, well, physical form though? In the sense of how it affects usage? Surely it's less about what it can do, and more about where it can do it? As devices get bigger, they get less flexible the respect of where you can use them. So, important to get this right from a sales perspective. Doesn't the Surface tablet deserve to have it's flexibility acknowledged appropriately?
  • Sure, but given the desktop optimized OS, intentional positioning as a laptop, purposeful comparison by the Surface creator Panos Panay, to laptops and not tablets, and dominant usage by Surface buyers as a laptop (this takes in your "where used" consideration), I think the modular laptop is a more appropriate category than tablet. Acknowledging the removable and even separate packaging of the keyboard. In most cases most buyers seeing it for what it is, a device optimized for a laptop will/have purchased the keyboard.
  • Not where used, but where it can be used. A phone can be used whilst mobile and walking down the street, but is very often used while seated, in bed or on the lavvy. I suspect more often than whilst actually walking around. It's still called a 'mobile' though to highlight where it CAN be used. It's not called a Lavvy PC. A desktop can only be used at the one desk. A laptop can be used at the one desk and often is, but it can be move to other desks too so it is different in the form factor sense. A tablet can be used at one desk, or moved to another desk, or used whilst walking about the office or on transport. Of course it'll mostly be used at the same desk as usual, or on a few desks, but it's where it CAN be used that matters. The whole point of a flexible form factor is that it is less prescriptive, not more. I don't know about modular (surely that title works better for a desktop PC where I can REALLY swap out components as I please?), but convertible is a good name. I would apply that more to a Yoga or the like though, and I think most customers would, because they actually change physically. Being able to plug a keyboard into a PC is not exactly a defining factor as I can do that with every Windows device I own. I plug a keyboard in to my desktop PC and having a removable keyboard does make it easier to move around (lan party days are over though...), but I wouldn't suggest that changes its form factor. Same with my Atom tablet and TV stick, and my laptops. Look to true convertibles and to Andromeda if you want to see the idea of a form factor challenging device. They are much more convincing as they really do change physical form factor.
  • If I look at how I use my Surface Pro 3, it's definitely both. It did in fact replace my Zenbook at the time and my Nexus 7 tablet. I also use it as both; more laptop but enough tablet to also call it a tablet.
  • Precisely, who cares what is called by others, it's like arguing that laptops were really desktops at their beginnings, they were heavy and bulky. Actual devices, and yes also Personal Computers including smartphones, which compute and are personal, have different shapes and with newer tech they are able to cover more and more tasks; initially GPS were a separate device, so should we call smartphones more like GPSs with calling capabilities? Heck, who cares, if tomorrow HoloLens or smart glasses do everything a GPS, Smartphone, Camera, Tablet, Laptop, Desktop, Server, etc. we’ll just have to call them what; Smart glasses that can replace your Laptop!”. Again, we should not care about marketing semantics, just about devices’ features, functions, designs, specs, cost, etc.
  • Hey VHMPO1, given your argument you'd probably love my article:
    Microsoft's HoloLens and Insider Chiefs suggest smartglasses will replace smartphones😉 :
  • Can't put my surface pro 3 on my lap as easy as my old MacBook air... That's the main difference between a laptop and a 2in1 for me.
  • I find the kickstand more than comfortable enough to put it on my lap when I"m sitting in the couch.
  • Got both now.. The surface just digs into my belly as it slides down lol. Thinking a surface laptop next.
  • Surface Book can do both well. You can detach screen so it's just a 'tablet' (only downside is battery life and size perhaps).
  • After the initial "hey this is different" period of using my Surface on my lap, I actually prefer it over a laptop. The kickstand gives me better adjustment options. And, no "toasted nuts" syndrome after extended use. :-)
  • I can get my surface way hotter than my MacBook lol. But I get what you mean.
  • My SP4 has NEVER heated up like my old Macbook did. I will never use a Mac again...
  • He meant the hot part of the device doesn't heat his under pants since it is stand up
  • After using a surface pro device for over 6 years I would say it is a tablet first, no matter what anyone says. The formfactor makes touch first interaction an intuitive handling, something that is not a ubiquitous experience on an average laptop. I think the lapability is overly exagerated, the formfactor is easier to use as a tablet device on the the lap than what the marketing would suggest. For lapabiliry I would never buy a surface pro idd that would be important to me. I think I would then choose a classic laptop formfactor. Out of the box the surface pro is not supported buy a standard keyboard, but is sold as a standalone slate/tablet device. The whole problem with the identity crisis of the surface pro being either a laptop or tablet device has all to do with windows in my view. Windows 8 was clearly a more tablet device centric OS, that worked well with the first gen surface device. The legacy continued from the primary formfactor, but due to public outcry of windows 8 apparently being a failure, microsoft got nervous and turned everything around, making windows 10 a desktop first OS. The surface pro never evolved but got two siblings called the surface book and surface laptop, to reconnect with the general audience and set the evolution of the windows 10 Os back to the desktop ahmge. Now the surface pro dances in limbo with being the odd one out in the family. It is a hate relationship with its owner, where longer relationships identifies the formfactor as clearly a tablet, where the more recent owner relationships see a laptop formfactor, perhaps through pink glasses.
    If microsoft continued evolving windows for the surface pro to be more tabletcwbyric, the identity crisis of it being a laptop device would have been less clear, and this article wouldn't have been necessary
  • I think you are in the wrong era, when referencing laptops. There is a huge section of laptops that have touch screens. So your point might have been a decent one five or six years ago, but not now. And for the record, the ability to use the SP as a tablet or a laptop are both quite easy and intuitive for most people. But even with traditional laptops, they have ALWAYS been better on a desk or table top, than in the lap. The fact that the SP is a "FULL COMPUTER" is what separates it from other tablets. And that is the determining factor in its classification. This laptop/tablet runs full Windows 10 Pro, and thus is most definitely a laptop first, and tablet second. I use my SP4 as a laptop about 88% of the time, and as a tablet for less than 10%. The other few percents, it's used as a pic frame. In the end, the ability to use it as either at it's size and weight, is what makes the surface unique to all the other Surface products. This isn't rocket science.
  • The design and and marketing is a tablet first. A keyboard is not standard out of the box, and the device is intuitive first to use the screen and as a tablet oriented device. sure once a bluetooth or type cover is adding the functionality and usecase expands that would suggest a laptop use. I have not seen a change in that perspective, even having moved on from a surface pro first gen to a 5th gen device. I would consider the surface laptop a laptop design first by design and functionality, but not the surface pro. I am still very much with the times.
  • I honestly don't care what you call it, I use mine mostly as a laptop, can't remember the last time it was without a keyboard attached, and certainly at the time, the alternative I was considering was the Dell XPS13 (none 2 in 1 version), so I was in the market for a light, but powerful laptop. On those grounds it's become a laptop, but it's more than that, it gives me the flexibility should I wish to use it as a tablet. So really I guess I think of it as a 2 in 1 more than anything. I think it's a 'surface' not a laptop or tablet, it seems to have defined a whole new format, a proper desktop in a laptop, but detachable keyboard, realistically Windows is not great as a standalone tablet OS, it really needs a keyboard and mouse to fully utilise, so most people will add those, but you'd probably not do so for the iPad or Android tablets.
  • Agree, it's a surface. I use as laptop, as tablet, as mobile device (LTE). In some ways it is already andromeda :)
  • Agreed with you here. Would love to call it a Surface too. Surface is Surface. Boom.
  • I call my Surface Pro a Surface. I pack up my Surface, use my Surface at work, etc. I don't call it a laptop OR a tablet.
  • It's a laptop and a tablet, just like the Surface Book. That's what makes these devices so gosh darn awesome. I've been fortunate enough to use a Surface pro 3, 4 and now a book 2 and, honestly, I have no idea what HP, Dell, Lenovo or Asus would do to bring me back to their hardware. I'm totally hooked on the Surface range
  • I read the article and came away with: so what? I still call it a tablet when I talk to others about it. And roughly 50% of the time I'm using is, the keyboard is NOT attached (media consumption, music charts when I'm playing keys, drums or singing, editing digital pictures, taking notes in staff meetings). I don't get the significance of your distinction or why you wrote this article at all, except to maybe settle a bet with Zac. It's as superfluous as debates I get into with my fellow divers over whether or not scuba qualifies as a "sport".
  • If your grandmother wanted a "tablet", you wouldn't get her a Surface as it isn't really a tablet. You would get her an actual tablet.
  • If my grandmother wanted a "tablet" I would ask her to clarify what she wants, rather than assume.
  • You think she is going to say a Microsoft Surface tablet or describe a laptop? I mean maybe, but probably not. I will take that bet everytime.
  • If my grandmother want a tablet? Surely I would being her to see doctor. Self prescribing is not that good. LOL
  • lol
  • Hallelujah!
    We FINALLY agree on something! It was bound to happen eventually. Microsoft doesn't treat the Pro as a tablet. Just look at how bad tablet mode on Windows 10 is. No one treats the Pro as a tablet. Neither do they treat the Book as a tablet. They simply have detachable screens. If there's one product that makes no sense in the Surface line-up, is the Surface Laptop. That overpriced under-spec'd thing has no reason to exist. It doesn’t innovate in anything, it isn't better than what Microsoft partners already offer and now that Windows 10 S is dead, it's not even a platform to showcase it.
  • Good article, Jason. I say anything that comes with full blown Windows 10 is a PC no matter the outlook, modular or otherwise. MSFT hit the right spot where it does best and I strongly believe this is going well, Surface and Windows relationship. All I hope now is for the Andromeda to be the game changer of a device. ❤ I can't imagine a foldable handheld device with adapting Windows 10 that's much powerful than Android and iOS. MSFT should realize that potential in extending Windows 10 to be more for the consumer.
  • It depends on the Surface Pro's owner. If you use the Surface Pen a lot and your keyboard is detached some of the time, then it's a tablet. If you use it pretty much the same way you would a laptop, then it is a thin, lightweight laptop. I have been using both a SP4 and a SurfaceBook the past year, and I much prefer the Surface Pro because it has the portability "feel" of a tablet without forcing me to choose between easy-to-pack-along or keyboard usefulness.
  • I have a first gen Surface book that I love. My main computer is a loaded DIY but I also use the SurfaceBook lots. I have had notebooks/laptops since the 4"thick B&W screen days and this is the best one I have ever had. I have had it for about three years now and it still runs perfectly!
  • Great, I'm an SB owner myself I just adore that device. :)
  • It is more to do with shortcomings wintel to not able to match rival mobile os based tablets in user experience and power consumption at current state of Ugly and messed up tablet mode.
  • I have had the Surface Pro 3 since new. I like it as a laptop, but it falls short as a tablet. Until they improve tablet mode and battery duration to be equivalent to an android or Apple tablet, it will not serve as a good tablet replacement. In fact, I am inclined to grab my android tablet when I am going anywhere, while the SP3 stays at home with the battery charging. The availability of some common Microsoft apps on Android helps me shift between devices easily. Mirroring software helps too.
  • The lack of good touch apps or interface is a bigger deal than battery life to me. The battery wasn't that bad on my SP3.
  • I agree about it being a modular laptop at most. I never use it as a tablet. If I meant to, I would have gotten an iPad or some Android tablet. Considering that I have other devices that can only be used with apps, I didn't see the gain (for myself) of getting something with a bigger screen to be used with apps. Many do, but I'm in the minority. Most of the things I use/do for fun require a decent amount of typing.
  • It's a tablet that can be converted into a laptop. It's not a laptop because there is no keyboard included. Would you call a desktop with integrated Intel graphics a gaming rig because in the future you *can* put a high end graphics card in it?
  • Your premise falls short in that tablets are NEVER full blown computers. This is a laptop, that can be used as a tablet. But is much more useful as a laptop.
  • Baloney. Some of the first tablets were full-blown computers running Windows. Tying the name to the type of OS is ridiculous.
  • Exactly. I thought those clunky UMPCs were really cool at the time lol. We've come a long way.
  • A tablet is a form factor, it has nothing to do with the power of the hardware inside or the OS. What about a device with the exact same specs and no keyboard connector? Would that be a tablet, or would your head just explode? You actually proved yourself wrong... You literally said this CAN be used as a tablet. So either you're wrong or this isn't a full blown computer... You've trapped yourself in your own illogic.
  • The software is part of the experience too, not just the form of the hardware. Windows 10 and its software isn't designed to be used touch only or even touch first. Without a keyboard and trackpad, the experience is quite frustrating. It is a laptop first and foremost. Microsoft markets it as a laptop for a reason. You cannot have people buying Surface expecting a tablet. They will be disappointed.
  • The keyboard isn't included just so you can buy whatever color keyboard you want without Microsoft having 30 SKUs. It also allows them to advertise a lower starting price. I would be surprised if any Surface Pros are sold without a keyboard too. I couldn't imagine how frustrating it would be using my Surface Pro without ever having a keyboard.
  • Jason, I am surprised that you say the Surface Pro is a laptop. In that case do all the tablets that have dockable keyboards but sold seperately are now laptops? I'm sorry but your gusto is misaligned on this one lol. For the Surface Pro to be called a laptop, it has to be sold with a keyboard but it is not. That is the crux of the matter, no ifs no buts. It's a tablet that can replace your laptop and it will always be a tablet as long Microsoft continues to sell the tablet without the keyboard. Secondly, by calling the Surface Pro a laptop it misplaces the Surface Laptop as then it has no reason to exist. But the Surface Pro is first a foremost a tablet, a versatile tablet at that.
    Whereas the Surface laptop is a traditional laptop and the Surface Book a versatile laptop. Personally I feel that your emotions got the best of you on this particular topic 😉.
  • HELLO TECHFREAK1, it's not JUST about the detachable keyboard, it's the FULL OS that makes it a laptop. Tablets are just NOT this powerful!!!!
  • Semantics and in the grand scheme of things tablets are very powerful. They have more processing power than the desktop PCs of the 90s. In additions tablets have enough computing power for most people. As it stands it is about form factor, there is no way around the fact the Surface Pro is a "slate" and all computing tablets are in that same form factor. One can argue the software allows the table to become a laptop when docked, here-in is the crux of the argument - the tablet has to be docked or attached to a seperate accessory to be that is sold seperately used as a laptop. By selling this accessory seperately, by way definition any slate device is a first and foremost a tablet. It is important to have clear definitions when marketing a product as not doing so pushes everything onto a slippery slope. It would be like saying a rear wheel drive car is the same as a 4x4 because all rear wheel drive cars have 4 wheels just like 4x4s. You see the problem? It's misleading and false advertising, you cannot simply go gallavanting off road with a rear wheel drive car and not come across issues as it does not have the traction and additional standard features found in 4x4 such as locking differentials. You can go off roading any car but if the car is not fit for purpose than you are bound to have problems. More over following the example of calling the Surface Pro a laptop, is like saying a 1000 bhp truck is a super car just because like a super car this truck has the power and 4 wheels. Now you see the problem not having clear definitions for marketing?
  • Hey TechFreak, here'e what you said: "For the Surface Pro to be called a laptop, it has to be sold with a keyboard but it is not." That is not a plenary statement. In some cases the keyboard is sold separately in others you may find it sold in a bundle. Case and point, the Surface I bought was sold with a keyboard and pen.
    So by your own definition, For the Surface Pro to be called a laptop, it has to be sold with a keyboard, it is therefore a laptop at least in some instances. So based on your definition a simple shift in packaging will change the category of this device from tablet to laptop. To take it a little deeper, it's not the OS, not the usage, simply the packaging, from your perspective, that makes it a tablet. So if a customer went to the Microsoft Store or ordered it oniline and Microsoft packaged the Surface and keyboard together before selling it to the consumer it would be a laptop.
    So how about if the customer put the two together online or in the store then paid for it, according to your logic, why isn't it a laptop? In one case Microsoft packaged them before purchase, in the other the customer put them together before any many was exchanged. The categorization as I logically not emotionally 😃 argue in the piece revolves around a desktop OS, usage, a modular design and how Microsoft markets it - which is as a laptop. The comparisons on stage and as I noted in the piece Panos makes are deliberatly with laptops not tablets. Most people buy the Surface to use as a PC, laptop. Sure calling the Pro a laptop does call into question the position of the Surface Book - a laptop and the Surface Laptop...also a laptop. :-) Microsoft addresses that by calling it the most versatile laptop. The Surface Pro has a tablet mode and Studio mode. The Surface Book has a tablet but no Studio Mode. The Surface Laptop is a straight laptop. So there is differentiation because they are different devices. Someone who wants a straight Laptop and likes the weight of the keyboard base and the ability to hold a laptop by its base should go for the Surface Laptop. Someone like me, as I say in the piece, who will use a device primarily for writing and running a business, but also for art (I can't afford a Studio) the Surface Pro, with Studio Mode and the Surface Dial is a great choice. So you can't just look at the word or categorization of the device as a "laptop" in relation to the other laptops in the Surface Family and say, well its not a laptop without looking at what makes each device distinct. You have to look at the differences and the distinct positioning of the devices. 😉 Hey and call me emotional again and I might get really emotional!!!!!!!! 😄 Lol
  • Wikipedia calls it a 2-in-1: Specifically they call it detachable as subcategory but it doesn't really matter since it can be both. You can't generalize it for everyone.
  • Sorry, but you are wrong. It is a tablet. ust as calling a laptop with desktop power and components a "desktop" would be wrong, calling a tablet that can perform like a laptop a "laptop" is also wrong. The form factor defines the term, not the software.
  • Noirsoft, you state the form factor defines the term. Ok I hear you. Look at the image of the Surface family of devices in the post. Three of those devices have a form factor that looks like a laptop and one a desktop. The lead image in this piece also shows a device that looks like a laptop. And I'm sure that if you ask 100 random regular joes what type of devices are in those images,(the Surface Family Pic and the lead image) without any precursor, just a straight question, they'd tell you the Surface Pro was a laptop based on the form factor they see in the images. I might be wrong, but I don't think so. 😉
  • I think it's a tablet.
  • Laplet. Lets leave it at that.
  • Hi Jason Ward. It's generally clear what you are trying to do. And it might seem like a good plan but I think it will have the opposite effect to that you've concluded. Good luck just the same.
    It's an argument that can't be won or lost. It is what it is to those that use it. It's not up to marketing or media. It's not up to what you say. No matter what you say.
  • I think of Surface Pro, and Surface Book, as neither a laptop or a tablet but as a 2-n-1, its own category, in the same way I think of hybrid cars being a category unto themselves. In fact that was always the coolest thing about them for me, seeing MS as an innovator again. I think MS should stick with that tag line.
  • @ZacBowden rocks!
  • My wife has a Surface 2, a RT Tablet and a new Surface Pro (5?), she has no key board for eithethe of them so hers are definitely tablets (she likes using that kickstand when walking around, makes the tablets a little more secure.) I have a Surface 2 Pro (Upgraded? to Windows 10) and a new model Surface Pro (5?) and use both with a attached keyboard. I use them both as Laptops. I have a 'Love, Hate Relationship' with the Microsoft Bluetooth Arc Mouse though.
  • Yeah, no. You can't use a Surface Pro on your lap, at least not properly.
  • I don't know what 'Properly' means. I certainly have used both my Surface 2 Pro and my Surface Pro on my lap. I guess you might be referring to the flexible keyboard, but you can learn to use it. I cannot use my HP laptop without first using two folded towels to act as a heat shield. There are cooler and warmer laptops out there of course. My laptop is more rigid making typing a little easier, but my laptop is a bit unwieldy on my lap, my lap does not seem deep enough. I suspect that you and I use our respective laptops differently and that definitely changes the way we view the ideal laptop.
  • "You can't use a Surface Pro on your lap, at least not properly." Hi Zeem, I heard that argument about poor lapabilty before I got my Surface. But found it surprisingly and pleasantly as capable as my laptops. Really. Now, i think my wife, who has shorter legs than I do, finds it a little more challenging. I'll have to test that again. But it is an observation I made. I was really excited about how lapable it was after hearing so many negative testimonies to tge contrary. And I was ready to extol its lapanle virtues to my wife until I saw her struggle a bit with it on her lap. SoI think, based on my admittedly narrow experience and as yet untested theory😄 that lapabilty or lack of it may be related to ones anatomy more than a general rule that it is or isn't lapable. Definitely something to dive deeper into.🤔🙂
  • It’s a laptop. I’ve had a surface pro 4 for a couple of years now and it’s simoly too crippled as a tablet to use it as anything other than a laptop with a touchscreen. I bought it hoping it would be more ‘tablet-y’ but primary use as a laptop
    There simply hasn’t been the development of windows 10 as a well rounded touchable OS, or enough App Store apps to help that along. Too often things like the soft keyboard not appearing when you need to type something and the keyboard is removed because you’re trying to use it as a tablet.
  • Make sure your keyboard settings is set to show keyboard even if physical keyboard is connected and not in tablet mode
  • As someone who takes a commuter train to and from work, I have to disagree. The kickstand and flimsy connection to the keyboard doesn't make it an ideal "lap" top experience. My Surface Book 2, however, is an absolute dream to tote around Metra trains.
  • Actually, it's a Surface. My kids, my wife, even my parents when I visit them, call it a Surface. That is the beauty of it. That's how Microsoft wins.
  • It's a bird! it's a plane! no it a surface pro tablet/ laptop/ studio kickstand hybrid
  • surface pro is not a tablet or laptop. it is a 2 in 1 and surface is working on a Tablet-Phone with Name Surface Journal. I do Believe are working on Smartphone with Two Screens 1 on Back and the Front and Smartwatch with name Watch it
  • Would anyone call the iPad equipped with an optional Logitech keyboard is a laptop? Have you tried to use A Surface Pro on your lap? I'm with Zac, it's a tablet with an optional keyboard available.
  • Yes I have tried. I had no specific issues. It's not as good in a lap as a traditional laptop but that doesn't mean that it's not good. That said, if you're determined to categorise the Surface Pro then I think that the fact that the keyboard is optional rather than standard is a more telling factor.
  • The iPad with a keyboard is running an OS optimized for mobile, touch interaction, has no mouse support, and runs most apps optimized for tablet use. Even with a keyboard its not optimized for laptop/desktop scenarios. I was clear in the piece that the keyboard alone is not the defining factor for tge Surface being a laptop. In fact I open by making the case that the OS, which is optimized for desktop, not tablet use, is a primary factor along with intentional positioning etc.
  • I use it, and must admit it is not the most comfortable. The Microsoft store people recommend that you buy a Surface Book, instead, if you want to use it on your lap. I tried an ASUS model that is so fast it almost jumps in your hands. The only problem is that it works so hot that you can't hold it on your lap or over any plastic surface for more than a few minutes. The other is a DELL model, just as hot, but with a horrible design that places the camera at the bottom of the screen, so when you Skype other people, they only see your chin.
  • I don't think that it really matters either way. There was obviously a time that the line was very braid and very dark between a laptop and other types of computers. Nowadays, the line is narrower and greyer. I now have a Surface Pro where I previously had a Dell XPS 15 for use at home and a Surface 3 for use while commuting. I did move the XPS around the house but rarely outside and I used the Surface in my lap most of the time. Now, the Surface sits in the lounge room connected to a Surface Dock connected to the TV most of the time and it comes to work with me on the train, which means being used on my lap most of the time. If you want a computer that you can use on your desk, lap and hands then the Surface Pro is a good option. If you want desk and/or lap only, a more traditional laptop is likely a better bet. That's how I think and that's how everyone should think. The problem with hard and fast categorisation is that there will be people who will exclude something because it's not in the right category. Not buying a Surface Pro because it's not a laptop or not a tablet would be a mistake.
  • That's where "the most versatile laptop" categorization comes in.😉
  • Both wrong, Composition > Inheritance #devmeme
  • whatever you want to call it I got rid of mine because a tablet without apps is useless to me. My iPad Pro and MacBook Pro cover all the bases.
  • Your colleague Zac is simply delusional. For him windows 10’s sub mediocre tablet experience is fantastic. But then again, it seems any crap coming out of Nadella’s @$$ is fantastic to him.
  • I have SP4 m3 with Ferrari Red cover, I almost never use it as laptop, screen too small, I use it as tablet almost exclusively (but never in tablet mode)
  • I agree 100 percent Jason. It IS a LAPTOP first and foremost. Just as a 2 in 1 computer is a LAPTOP first and foremost. The surface CAN do tablet'ey stuff, but it has a much better time doing laptop'ey stuff.
  • It's all things to all people as the 2 articles from you both demonstrate. I sell the whole range. Surface Pro is a a machine that can do it all with a form factor that is more portable and can function as a tablet whenever required. Book 2 is also a machine that can do it all with emphasis on laptop experience with occasional tablet use. Forget 'labels' as they are both for different people with differing use cases.
  • Good call Great Deal. Too bad that the app situation is as it is. It would be the perfect device. Power of windows 10, apps of a tablet based system...and No...emulation is NOT as good as native apps on windows.
  • It's called a laptop now because of how it's categorized by the TSA. Microsoft's marketing of "a tablet that can replace your laptop" conflicted with it's categorizing due to its components inside even though it is clearly a tablet form factor. The line blurs even more so now due to windows operating on mobile (phone) socs when talking about the category in general. But since we are talking specifically surface, it runs on laptop soc and has a fan (at the time they changed the marketing to fit TSA description). The first surface that runs on arm chip, Ms may change the tagline again, challenging the TSA's categorizing depending on where they want to build the audience for said device (Andromeda?). Remember they purposely marketed windows 10 as a fix for a tablet focused windows 8, thus the return of start and "familiar" emphasized marketing and start on windows 8.1.1 or or update 2 or whatever they called it. It's not called a laptop or tablet due to preference. How anyone uses it is up to them. It can be called a picture frame or a cup holster to those who use it as such.
    It's simply called a laptop because of the TSA making Jason and Zac's debate at Mercy to the arguer's prejudice. In the real world (usage cases, not applications), IT DOESN'T MATTER. NO ONE CARES!!!!
  • To me the Surface Slate Computers from the beginning are 2 in 1 hybrid Tablet / Laptop Computers.
    but are mostly used as a laptop because 99% of Surface slate Owners buy the type covers. before the Surface tablets were introduced by MS CEO Ballmer there were laptops that had swivel screens that folded down to make a thick Tablet. it's the Surface's unique thin design with a built in kick stand and Type writer cover that created for Microsoft a PC Tablet that is the best 2 in 1 Tablet / laptop hybrid in the World. The hybrid Tablet / Laptop hybrid Computers are here to stay. The Surface tablet laptop hybrids are a stable product I think Microsoft will continue to sell.
  • "Microsoft's Surface Pro is a laptop no matter what anyone says". I'm glad we're all entitled to our own opinions because I'm siding with Zac on this one. The SP is usable on your lap if you hold perfectly still and you line up the stand perfectly on both of your legs. I can't do that and get any work done. The Surface Pro is a tablet that CAN be used as a laptop replacement in certain situations. I don't know what you're smoking over there Jason, but it's time to cut back.
  • Probably The Surface 3 is a Versatile tablet, but the SP is a versatile laptop.
    I am very surprised by how lapable is, I thought it was impossible to work on my bed with the SP over my laps but I was wrong.
  • Bit late to the discussion, when I am at home I use mine as my desktop, it has a desk microphone, Web cam, speakers, full size keyboard and mouse, and a 28 inch monitor, I can plug in a CD drive and an additional hard drive when needed. When I am away my wife can just plug hers in and she has a desktop machine in the living room. When I am working in London (I do 4 days on and four days off) I use it as a tablet, I do have a keyboard in my rented room just in case, but haven't used it yet. So although it maybe called a "versatile laptop" that is in effect the one way of using it I very rarely do. I think calling it a versatile device is far better than calling it a laptop, but then why not just call it a Surface, show people what you can do with it and let them make up their own minds. If Andromeda is powerful enough, it will replace my 950XL, my Surface Pro 4 and it will become my phone/tablet/desktop and maybe just once in a while a laptop but not as often as the other three options.
  • Oh yeah, my dream is something like Andromeda or Dex (but useful). Remember de Motorola Droid Lapdock?
  • if you can not use it on your lap then it is not a laptop, simple as that
  • It's called accessories.
  • Considering I use mine 95 % of the time (over the last four years, daily use of two hours) without the keyboard I have to agree with Zac. It's a tablet. It can be a laptop, but that's not what it is.
  • Actually, I know what it is. it's a lapblet.
  • Surface Pro is a 2-in-1, a tablet and a laptop. It is also the best in both categories. I doubt you will find something better than this except for the Surface Book, which will be my next step - hopefully soon. I have bee using it since SurfacePro3. True, the older versions with ARM and other processors sucked. They were just rehearsals for what came next.
  • Every time I visit a blog about a Microsoft Product, I feel like asking the bloggers to put an advisory at the very beginning: "This page is about the Surface Pro (or other similar product), not Mac Pro, not Samsung tablets, no Androids, no IOSs. Those blogs exist and I suggest you go to them to post your comments."
  • The whole point of it is that's it's both a tablet and a laptop whenever it needs to be. Therefore, it is both and neither. So you're both right. Let's go home.