Why Lenovo's MIIX 700 is a good thing for Windows 10 and the Surface brand

Earlier this morning, the Windows Central team in Berlin gave us a hands-on look at Lenovo's new MIIX 700. The two-in-one is certainly very reminiscent of the Surface Pro 3 and that has some people accusing the company of ripping off Microsoft.

However, I see this very differently for a few reasons. In fact, I think that the MIIX 700 is welcomed competition and can only help the Surface and the future of PC computing.

The Surface form factor

Looking at the MIIX 700 it is hard not to see the resemblance to the Surface Pro 3. Whether it is the metal body, the kickstand, even the magnetic keyboard. Here are a few reasons though why this is just fine.

1. Validation

The Surface Pro 3 is by all accounts the sweet spot Microsoft was attempting to achieve. It is the first Surface to really resonate with the public. Surface Pro 4 is going to build off of this momentum. Think refinements not a revolution for the next Surface including an additional, larger 14-inch version (yes, this is true).

By Lenovo using the same form factor it reinforces this new market of ultra-portable two-in-ones over traditional laptops. The company obviously sees Microsoft doing something right with the Surface, and they want in on that action too. Conversely, if the Surface were tanking, Lenovo would just pass.

2. Competition

Competition in technology is very important. Although capitalism has an odd contradiction (it thrives on rivalry, yet every firm strives to be a monopoly), it is the ability to one-up the other guy that keeps consumers happy. Indeed, the original Surface was born out of the idea of "priming the pump" and Microsoft stepping up where their partners were failing.

One thing, however. Nearly every time we post an article on the Surface or rumors of a new version many armchair engineers here are quick to add their two cents in comments on what Microsoft should do next. Interestingly, there are real engineers (and companies to back them) that also have ideas.

Take a look at the MIIX 700 and a few things it does right when compared to the Surface Pro 3:

  • Included keyboard
  • Comparative and competitively priced
  • Bluetooth built into the keyboard
  • Two USB ports (one USB 3.0, the other 2.0)
  • Optional LTE modem

Those are not trivial things. They are substantial and impressive additions that any Surface Pro 3 owner would love to have too. Who knows, maybe the Surface Pro 4 will bring those as well. Or maybe not. The point is if Lenovo can one-up Microsoft (or at least add variation to the market) that is a good thing for consumers.

3. The more, the merrier

The last time I checked, the Surface Pro 3 is still not available everywhere worldwide. Part of that is Microsoft's new cautious approach to selling their hardware while other aspects reflect their supply chain limitations (Newsflash: they are not PC manufacturers). Why not let some of their OEM partners shoulder the burden of production risks in other countries? Or leverage better their manufacturing abilities?

Maybe you cannot get a Surface at your local shop in your region of the world, but Lenovo might be able to get you a MIIX 700. That is a better option than you having to consider a new iPad (rumored to have a keyboard dock too).

Surfaces everywhere

The more OEMs make Surface-like devices, and the more consumers demand them, the better for the future of Windows 10 and PCs in general.

The fact that the Surface design is being extended by PC partners is a good thing. It validates all that Microsoft has been trying to do with their genre defying device. Besides, copying a form factor is not that big of a deal. Look at a generic laptop. Or a tablet. Or a PC tower. Your black slab smartphone. Aren't these all clones too of a single form factor? If a company owned a general design in 2015, we should all have hexahedron laptops and orb smartphones by now.

Microsoft's Surface is a very compelling device, but I think having other manufacturers can, in the long run, lower pricing, add variation, spur creativity and offer improvements over it. Additionally, a company like Lenovo can extend their supply chain to places where Microsoft struggles to get the Surface into customer's hands.

The Lenovo MIIX 700 is nothing but a win for customers, and I hope other companies get in on the game too. You should as well if you care about Windows 10.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • Cool!
  • Except you missed the point. Most people are accusing the Lenovo ripping off MS as a BAD thing because there is a cheap knock off in the market which will hurt the Surface sales. Daniel is saying that Lenovo ripping off MS is a GOOD thing because imitation is the biggest form of flattery, plus it acknowledges that the Surface form factor as a sizeable market.  Finally MS always wanted the Surface to be the trail blazer for the other OEM to follow, Lenovo ripping them off is EXACTLY want MS wanted.
  • Nowhere did I see Daniel denying that Lenovo didn't rip off MS. The only thing I see is Daniel saying that Lenovo did rip off MS, but there are some places where Lenovo one-upped MS' effort (price, accessories etc) and that only reaffirms that this is a good thing as the Surface strategy is paying off.
  • No I didn't miss it, and you are still the one missing the point. Usually when people say "ripping off" they mean that only in the most negative way with NO redeeming points, Daniel is saying he sees it differently in the line below: Looking at the MIIX 700 it is hard not to see the resemblance to the Surface Pro 3. Whether it is the metal body, the kickstand, even the magnetic keyboard. Here are a few reasons though why this is just fine. Then you can see how he lists that it provides more competition and reaffirmation of why that yeah it's a rip off, but that's actually a good thing.  
  • No he didn't miss it. He chose to ignore it. That's just how he is.
  • Design looks perfect, and feature wise also cool - Good to see : OEM doing their best , making solid hardware    Note : you uses perfect economics words : we studied in Micro and Macro 
  • This is a great reminder. I am amused by armchair engineers lol
  • If this were running Android, I'd be outrageous, but running Windows 10, I would even consider buying this. It's for the good of the Microsoft ecosystem, so I find it acceptable. I already have an SP3, but if I were in a country where I couldn't get hold of a Surface, Lenovo's take would be more than acceptable too.
  • And no one should touch it with a 10 foot pole unless they want to get pre-installed malware. This device also could not look much more like the Surface without actually being one. Ignoring the fact that one of the USB ports is 2.0, it would be nice to have two ports on the Surface Pro; perhaps with USB C, then they can add more to avoid all of the "teeth" as they describe them.
  • "And no one should touch it with a 10 foot pole unless they want to get pre-installed malware."
    Hyperbole and FUD. Lots of companies use BIOS firmware injection, it isn't/wasn't just Lenovo but hey, let's not let facts get in the way of some ignorance.
  • IIRC, the Surface Pro 3 also uses the same technology (____jack? Or something like that?) that can do firmware injection.
  • Correct. Lojack, which has been doing this for years on a number of laptops.
  • That wasn't the only security issue with Lenovo recently and the BIOS injection was meant for OEMs to use so of course others did as well, for it's inteded purpose, something Lenovo didn't do.   This isn't really FUD since it's based on the company's recent actions (the FACTS are ignored here) and not some mis-information or bad reporting.
    Until Lenovo proves they're done with that crap, people should stay away from them if they care about that stuff.  
  • I am not sure why people are down voting Pickypg and eshy.  They are stating facts. Read up about Superfish: http://www.cnet.com/news/superfish-torments-lenovo-owners-with-more-than... Notice that is dated 2/20/2015 -- this is very recent stuff. Lenovo appears to be inserting software into Windows even after a clean install using a vanilla Windows installer (not an OEM provided one): http://www.techworm.net/2015/08/lenovo-pcs-and-laptops-seem-to-have-a-bi... -- Lenovo now claims LSE and Superfish are no longer being installed on their PCs. So... we are supposed to trust them now? Picky was certainly not spreading FUD. Daniel IMHO you should apologize.
  • Point is Lenovo pay a lot of money to windowscentral and probably to Daniel,so they try to hide the fact and advertise products here, even bully you in comments too.
  • Matt, watch yourself. You're treading a very thin line here with attacking our credibility, especially since you have no proof of anything. The fact you need to resort to such tactics as opposed to making a coherent argument speaks volumes of your integrity. I won't tolerate it. Criticize our positions, but unless you can offer any evidence your claims I won't' let you besmirch our site and our writers simply because you lack the intellectual ability to make a sound argument. Our site makes money through two ways (1) ads on the site (which is handled by an outside company called Purch) and (2) our store and it's about a 50/50 split. We do not pocket money from companies and if we did, you would see it as "sponsored by". Stop for just a second pretending you know anything about this industry. Grow up.
  • I wouldn't have said that was bullying, I would say that's defending your livelihood. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • @wpkevin The MOST interesting thing I found with you using the word bully.  You agree that Daniel has superior strength and that he intimidates you.    But, hey, since you like definations look up libel "a published false statement that is damaging to a person's reputation; a written defamation."  You were getting close to that since you chose to attack his reputation on a website seen by a large group of people, aka a written defamation. You take it as bullying... I thought it was a cogent warning concerning your behavior. Criticism does not attack a person's motives or attempt to defame an individual (defame: blacken someone's name, sully someone's reputation, speak ill/evil of,cast aspersions on, drag someone's name through the mud, impugn someone's character/integrity,) Criticism does objectively examine a person's actions or written word and provide a reasoned response, ensuring that the one providing the criticism is accurate and impartial. In other words, what I have just written is a form of criticism. 
  • I don't care about lines. They way you come to rescue Lenovo products each time someone say truth abt this fishy Lenovo company, speaks for itself.
    And superfish/bios injection worlds know how Lenovo played with trust of people. We don't need more proof.
    And regarding how news sites makes money, I know better than you. And you can invite me to audit website financials, I will find out answer to questions you asked.
  • I didn't ask questions and certainly do not need your advice. You're a commenter on this site, nothing more.
  • You asked, read your comment again
  • @matton shoo shoo trolls.. shooo
  • There's no FUD about it. If it were just one instance, then I would grant you hyperbole, but it's at least three incidents. As the other's have pointed out, the fact of the matter is that Lenovo: Abused BIOS firmware injection methods provided by Microsoft to the point that Microsoft changed the language surrounding the feature when Lenovo's activities came to light. Preinstalled Superfish spyware and they only offered to remove it when it came to light. In addition, it's less commonly known because it just hit the news: They are doing similar things with their Android phones too by preinstalling spyware that is capable of doing/reading anything of value on the phone. Frankly, if you consider them to be an upstanding company, then I'd say that you are spreading FUD at this point. For any one of these, it could easily be a stupid mistake or that they were even convinced to do it by the almighty dollar. But three different times in very different ways shows the pattern of a company trying to spy on their customers, or possibly even to allow another entity to spy on them. It's possible that they are the victims in the phone case (along with all of their customers), but given their PC track record this year alone, I see absolutely no reason to believe it and I frankly do not understand why you would think differently.
  • Here's my issue with this. Sailfish: intent was advertising, not to steal your data. The issue was there was the potential for a security breach. That is a big deal. Also, Windows has tons of security issues too, which is why it is being patched. Researchers pointed it out to Lenovo and they fixed it. Injectible BIOS. Abused? No, actually they did what was allowed by Microsoft's guidelines. Those guidelines changed and, once again, the media caught wind of this after Lenovo had already changed their practice and patched systems. So pretty much a non-story. There was no abuse, imo. Is it weird that some Lenovo computers installed some of their system software even after a clean install? I don't think so as I have a lot of non-Lenovo computers do similar stuff. Remember when computers had custom OEM Windows backups? The issue here is intent. Were Lenovo purposefully trying to hurt customers? Steal their data? There is no evidence of that. Were they sloppy? Yup. Pushed the boundaries of what people may want? Perhaps. But I do not see them as doing anything evil. That is why I think people are over-reacting here. Each time these stories came out it was after Lenovo had already addressed it. We covered all of those stories here too and it is up to people to decide where to put their money. But for me, intent is everything. But look at the duplicity here: Lenovo has some security holes, odd privacy policies and the world flips out. Windows 10? Tons of people here defend Microsoft. Which is the bigger security risk? Lenovo or Windows 10?
  • " lenovo installing unwanted, uninstallable software"
    It is uninstallable. That is just false. It re-installs if you do a clean wipe, but you can then remove it from the system. It raised eyebrows because people did not know how using a clean install it coudl still come back.
    "maybe you should have a read through your own website's article about it "
    I um approved that article to be published. I'm aware. You and I happen to disagree on the severity of this issue. Ad ware on computers is not a new thing and it is how PC makers keep their costs low. Welcome to the past.
  • @wpkevin Do you have a Facebook account?  A Google account?  IF you do... you sir have agreed to have your computers/mobile devices become an advertising machine.  You say you don't want your computer to be used to target you for advertising... I agree.  
  • Lol, you wrote an entire article on windows 10 review and now to save Lenovo, you are bashing it. Hypocrite at best.
  • And Matt you have trouble accepting the fact I differ on opinions on issues from you. Instead you must resort to name calling. I suggest you find another site to frequent as you are wearing out your welcome here. Please, find somewhere else to go since you have such problems with our practices.
  • Bullying at best
  • Intent was advertising, not to steal your data.
    Intent is a very weak argument around the Superfish vulnerability. The criticality of that vulnerability was literally the same as Lenovo giving potentially any of your website logins (banks, shopping, etc.) to a third party, but for advertising purposes. Seriously, just take a look at the top image from the register's article on it. That does not get much scarier and the fact that it happened (assuming the image is undoctored), means that it exited the realm of being a potential security breach to a potentially unabused one. Far more importantly, Lenovo did not stop doing it until they were caught doing it.
    Is it weird that some Lenovo computers installed some of their system software even after a clean install? I don't think so as I have a lot of non-Lenovo computers do similar stuff.
    This is as simple as two wrongs don't make a right. And my answer to that is that you should write a report, with the full power of your Microsoft fame that you have earned, on the companies that do this versus the one's that don't do it. I strongly doubt that I am the only one interested. Such a story could literally impact the decisions of many enterprise system buyers in a very good way for the ecosystem. In fact, this is one of the primary reasons that I either build my own computer or buy a Microsoft built one (SP3). It's not much of a different story compared to stock Android versus some OEM shell on top of it that breaks things, but it would be enlightening to see a fresh story because, as Windows users, some of us have apparently grown to accept the abuse.
    Remember when computers had custom OEM Windows backups?
    They took a simple framework that did indeed allow their usage of it, and they started out with the right purpose: installing drivers and such. Then they moved onto an "optimizer" that had the security vulnerability that was completely uninstallable. I'm not as concerned with the vulnerability -- unfortunately that happens -- but it is and was obvious that the intent of the WPBT feature was intended for system validation and preparation, not installing a piece of software that sends "anonymous" data back home. Just because WPBT was open ended does not mean that they did not abuse it. It's no different than a plugin system for any system -- let's say the Mail app -- having a plugin added by the OEM that sends "anonymous" data home. It is and was clearly not its intent, and it's abuse.
    Which is the bigger security risk? Lenovo or Windows 10?
    To be clear, the last computer that I had recommended for a non-technical person to buy was a Lenovo. I deeply regret that decision because they were the type of person that having a false CA could really harm (totally unaware of what to look for to know that citikards.com is not really citicards.com). With that said, and as a developer, there is an enormous difference between accidental security flaws existing and software installed that is itself the security flaw. Microsoft has a few issues right now with privacy, but not so many with security (compared to where they used to be and other OS vendors). And while I am incredibly privacy consience (I turn off everything that I can), security issues trump privacy issues because security generally exposes privacy. Lenovo is absolutely the bigger security risk because they can be running on top of Windows 10 -- at least until enough time has passed and they have proven to stop doing what they have been shown to be doing -- regardless of intent. After all, the old CD rootkit from Sony was about monitoring for illegal file sharing, not introducing an abusable rootkit, but once it was discovered, then there were all kinds of viruses written to take advantage of it. You also missed my third point, which builds a pretty damning picture taken with the first two: Lenovo is doing or allowing the same problems with their Android devices. It's possible that a national actor is providing/installing fake binaries for real software (e.g., Facebook apps with extra code injected), but it is frankly up to Lenovo to validate the software that they install. If they do not, then honestly this avenue of attack is abusable via any Windows application that they install as well, including Windows itself. I will not try to pretend that it's easy to prevent sabotage from a national agency, but frankly, I'm not terribly convinced that it is sabotage given their documented willingness to do sketchy things with the intent to get advertising revenue. Put another way, I can face either the enemy I know, Windows 10, or the enemy that I do not know, Lenovo. And I recommend everyone to avoid Lenovo for the above reasons.
  • I happen to agree with Picky about not fully trusting Lenovo.  Trust has to be earned and with plenty of vendors out there, I am not going to just trust Lenovo because they said they won't do it again, I will have to watch and read about their releases.  I will be a little bit stand offish of Lenovo PCs for the next year or so and I will not buy one on day one.   I am also talking about Superfish, not the BIOS stuff. However, I think copying the Surface design is a good thing.  IMHO I haven't seen a better design and it is clearly something consumers like.  Copy away.  I do like that they added a second USB port, etc... It also is cool that they are fitting it between the Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3.    Overall I like what they are doing and in a year or so would reconsider a Lenovo. Right now I have a great gaming desktop and am mainly looking at a Surface Pro 4 for my portable computing device.
  • As the saying goes, "Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery." The fact that manufacturers are copying the Surface shows that Microsoft is leading the way in tablet computing now, rather than Apple.
  • There are far more ipad clones than Surface clones though