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Microsoft Hardware

Get Real, Microsoft: If the New Surface Pro Is a Laptop, Bundle It With a Type Cover ( 158

An anonymous reader shares an article: If Microsoft sold cars like it's trying to sell its Surface Pro (2017), it would charge extra for wheels -- and would be laughed out of the market. But Microsoft's using this tactic to sell its new Windows tablet as a "laptop," and we're still trying to figure out why. Microsoft's Surface Pro is clearly a Windows tablet, just like its predecessor, the Surface Pro 4. Nevertheless, devices chief Panos Panay calls it a "laptop" no fewer than three times in his blog post, including the very first sentence. No "laptop" or notebook PC forgoes a keyboard, however, as the Surface Pro does. Long-time Surface fans may know that Microsoft charges $129 to $159 more for that accessory, but does the average buyer get it? That's where the confusion starts.
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Get Real, Microsoft: If the New Surface Pro Is a Laptop, Bundle It With a Type Cover

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  • ..I suspect a quick call to the Advertising Standards Authority will result in hasty withdrawal of said advertising material.

    • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2017 @03:59AM (#54509161) Homepage Journal

      You can put it on your lap, can't you?

      • Indeedy, but words that carry certain expectations are not permitted in advertising.

        • For now. St Theresa will deliver us from such barmy Belgian bureaucracy!

          • As far as I know, this is UK legislation and a UK authority. For another thing, the proposed "Great Reform Bill" incorporates all EU law into UK legislation up to the point we leave the EU; Parliament is then free to change such law as it sees fit.

          • it'll only be replaced with Westminster bureaucracy.. oh no.. wait... the Uk governments are always too scared to do necessary things, they just leave it up their EU representatives to negotiate in brussels to make tough decisions so they don't get the blame back home because they know how stupid the UK voter is in separating the two.
            • I've told this story before, but...

              After the EU referendum a colleague of mine said "now we're leaving the EU I'll be able to fly the Union Jack". I queried why and it turned out that when he ran a business in the 80s he tried putting up a flag pole and was told to take it down.

              So he was told 30 years ago by the the [British] local council to take down the flag pole he put up because it contravened [British] planning rules, and somehow it was the EU's fault.

        • Indeedy, but words that carry certain expectations are not permitted in advertising.

          I guess the question is does laptop imply a physical keyboard or merely a size and the ability to type even if it is a. Irtual keyboard that has relocated the typing surface to the screen?

          • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

            I guess the question is does laptop imply a physical keyboard

            Yes. []

            or merely a size and the ability to type even if it is a virtual keyboard that has relocated the typing surface to the screen?

            No. []

            • I guess the question is does laptop imply a physical keyboard

              Yes. []

              or merely a size and the ability to type even if it is a virtual keyboard that has relocated the typing surface to the screen?

              No. []

              While I agree with you Google isn't authoritative and can see an argument to the contrary.

              • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

                While I agree with you Google isn't authoritative and can see an argument to the contrary.

                Google may not be authoritive, and neither may be a dictionary (, but it at the very least is a reasonable representation of public opinion.

                I can also imagine somebody trying to make an argument to the contrary. That person would probably be egg-shaped. []

          • by sjames ( 1099 )

            For anyone not being deliberately ignorant, laptop implies a portable computer with it's screen on a hinge and keyboard on the body. Some sort of mouse (or at least the pencil eraser) is expected as well.

      • You can put it on your lap, can't you?

        ... but it runs so hot that it will burn your willy if you do so. So, you can still sue!

      • By that definition, even a heavy rock is a laptop.
        • Make that a brick and you're close to home.

          • by TWX ( 665546 )

            And attempt to circumvent Secure Boot or whatever they're calling it (UFIA?) and botch it and you'll have a brick on your hands too.

            • That alone is enough of a reason to give this one a pass.

              Hardware I cannot own is simply unattractive.

            • What's the use case where you would want to circumvent Secure Boot instead of turning it off?

              • Secure Boot is supposed to guarantee that the OS is trustworthy, which can be a Good Thing depending on who is supposed to trust it.

                • No, it only even tries to guarantee it the same OS that was supposed to be installed.

                  If it was running windows, I still wouldn't trust it.

    • From previous communication with the ASA, material on a company's web site is not regarded as advertising and complaints about such material should directed to the office of fair trading (which no longer exists).
  • by Anonymous Coward

    you will get burned.

  • by DrXym ( 126579 )
    I doubt many Surface devices, especially at the upper end are used with a keyboard so it's basically just an excuse to gouge customers.
    • Re:Yup (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sneftel ( 15416 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2017 @04:42AM (#54509235)

      If you don't think that people are going to use the keyboard, then surely selling it separately, rather than bundling it, is the opposite of gouging?

    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      And most people aren't going to use 10 USB ports, but they are cheap so most OEM put them on.

      MS is always trying to meet a price point, not provide a full product. For hardware it has little experience doing this because it has always depending on the OEM to take a haircut while maximizing the price of MS Windows. Now that it is system builder, it is not going to sell anything at a loss. A good keyboard and cover is costly component, and as the surface is a low volume device, any custom component is g

  • by Njovich ( 553857 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2017 @03:58AM (#54509157)

    Plenty of people will need the keyboard, but isn't there also a sizable portion of people that just has no need for it?

    I have been using a surface pro 4 for about 6 months now. When I'm at work I just plug it into an actual keyboard and monitor. For that it is amazing, it packs plenty of power, and without the keyboard it is lighter than a 12" Macbook. When I'm on the sofa or train, I just use the on screen keyboard as for me personally the tablet form factor is more convenient to hold. I bought a keyboard cover with the Surface, but it has just been collecting dust (which it does more than I'd like with the textile-like material used).

    Of course, people that need to do extensive typing on their lap or while away from a USB keyboard won't be able to do without the keyboard, but I would say a pretty large portion of people that I see around me would be off just fine without the keyboard.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      well.. maybe not.

      but sure you're not using it as a laptop simply because it sucks balls as a laptop even with the keyboard cover.

      thats the real point. not that it doesn't come with the keyboard. its that it doesn't have a laptop accessory that would make it usable for typing on a keyboard on your lap.

      it's a pc tablet.. but the guy making the promo wants to call it a laptop, probably in his bracket it's a laptop because it has pc compatible components.

      though, marketing wise, he wants to call it a laptop

      • but sure you're not using it as a laptop simply because it sucks balls as a laptop

        Yeah, why o why did they put the fan's opening underneath the surface, rather than the top?

        even with the keyboard cover.

        hmmm, maybe if you put the keyboard cover under it, rather than use it as a keyboard? Na, then it'll just fry balls instead :-)

        • by Megane ( 129182 )
          Maybe they can come out with a "ball insulator cover". It would only be $59.99, what a deal, now you can keep yourself fertile!
          • by TWX ( 665546 )

            Or a new marketing campaign.

            Have too many kids? Don't want kids? Despite stereotypes technical types do attract the ladies, so protect yourself! The New Microsoft Surface Pro! If the heat doesn't reduce your sperm-count, the act of seeing a grown man paw ineffectually at the screen will be certain to reduce the likelihood of procreation!

      • I've never had a problem on the train or an airplane. It is just as uncomfortable to use in economy class as any other laptop and that has nothing to do with the device itself. I can't say I use it on my lap to often, but when I do it's rarely for a big typing session anyway.

        I look around, I don't see many laptops on laps. Desks, stands, in docking stations, lying on the bed or on the floor, propped up on a counter, but very rarely in a lap. Mind you I don't see many people coding either and that hardly is

    • Not everyone needs it. But I'll bet you 99% either do, and a portion of the 1% who don't buy some kind of a protective cover anyway.

    • Much of the reading material I study is in portrait mode, so a widescreen laptop is just so thoroughly 20th century. I take an old laptop to university but once home, dock it to a KVM switch with a full size USB keyboard and mouse.

      What I'd like in a new computer is a tablet with a pivotable stand.

      This [] was the first link that came up in a search - pretty nifty, eh? Such a setup would fit easily in my backpack for uni. including a mouse and a 104 keyboard.

    • Also a sizable portion of the population already has a Surface Keyboard if they're upgrading. And they're compatible between models.

  • ... basically, it's "what makes a laptop"?

    Personally, I'm inclined to say that a laptop should include a keyboard. I'm even inclined to call these hybrids, more tablet than laptop. Even when the keyboard is attached, it really isn't even close to being a laptop. It's top-heavy, the keyboard doesn't feel as solid as a real keyboard (even a laptop keyboard). It's clearly a trade-off between laptop and tablet.

    Granted, my experiences aren't based upon the 1000€+ Surface. There is no way I'd buy one a

  • by jolyonr ( 560227 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2017 @05:02AM (#54509269) Homepage

    I have to say that as a tablet it completely and utterly sucks. Windows simply does not translate to a tablet environment and, other than emergency use, I never use it without the keyboard.

    However, with the keyboard and as a lightweight touchscreen laptop for travel, is is excellent. I use Mac for my desktop environment, but Apple have decided for what seems to be purely religious reasons not to put touch-screens into their laptop line, which for me is a dealbreaker. Using the mouse for 99% of the UI, but the finger on the screen to scroll and pinch-zoom when appropriate works really well for me, and when I'm doing presentations from my Surface Pro onto a projector being able to draw onto the screen with the pen is a major advantage.

    I know for many of you a touchscreen in a laptop seems stupid, and you're perfectly entitled to that opinion. For me, it works, and it works better than the alternative (which is why my MacBook Pro is now hardly ever used.)

    • I had a similar experience with a different ending. Happy Macbook Pro user to start and was given the HP variant of a Surface 4 to test (HP Elite X2). It's light, thin, and reasonably responsive....responsive enough that I got used to only taking it along when I traveled and leaving the Macbook behind. The Macbook began to collect dust on a shelf in my office. The problem is that the HP's keep failing. Between myself and another person at the company, we've had 4 of these fail within the first couple

    • The new windows UI works just fine as a tablet. It's about the same as a typical Android tablet. Of course that only holds as long as you stick to "metro" apps; if you expect to use a standard windows desktop on a touchscreen, then yeah, it's going to be suboptimal.

    • Windows simply does not translate to a tablet environment

      What are you trying to translate? The OS should exist for one purpose launch apps and provide input. With a push of a button (or completely automatically) you can have Windows 10 switch to a mode where launching applications is incredibly trivial. The onscreen keyboard is about equally as obnoxious as any other, all relevant settings are available from a side swipe, and the pen support is head and shoulders above the rest.

      It sounds to me that you are saying the experience is bad because you expect to contin

    • With a MacBook Pro you can just use the same gestures (pinch to zoom) on the trackpad, works fine for me and no irritating smudges on my screen

      • by jolyonr ( 560227 )

        That is true, but having both, I can assure you it's not the same.

        And as for the smudges - strangely enough this happens on the iPad and iPhone and hasn't killed those products :)

        • OK, I have yet to try it myself, fair enough!

          For my phone/pad it's a glossy screen and I don't notice as much (though sometimes get rainbow patterns that are annoying []) but my laptop is matte (no glare for me) and it shows up a lot more on that.

  • by sproketboy ( 608031 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2017 @05:10AM (#54509291)

    FU Microsoft.

    • No they mean Type Cover. I don't expect a keyboard to be magnetically latched to a screen, covering it perfectly as protection when on the move and turning the device off when you flip it closed.

      Or do you also call the entire bit under the laptop screen the keyboard? And that box standing on the floor under your desktop the harddrive?

  • The average user has become an idiot when it comes to buying and operating computers. Of course, we did this by making all tech "idiot-proof", as if a 4-year old were behind every keyboard.

    And it worked.

    Soon, cars will be sold with optional wheels because consumers are ignorant as to what they can and should be charged extra for. Drivers already don't want a steering wheel. Or an obligation to pay attention.

    • Soon, cars will be sold with optional wheels because consumers are ignorant as to what they can and should be charged extra for.

      What do you mean soon? Sure the specifics on the wheels is currently off, but seriously other than a Tesla owner who actually goes to a car shop after seeing an online advertised price of $13,999 and actually leaves with a car that cost them $13,999?

    • I'm pretty sure if you omit the steering wheel and the seats, you can make cars a lot flatter.

  • On the other hand, I'm not sure I'd call it a tablet either... perhaps a drawing tablet, but not a tablet in mobility sense.

    You just have to have used an iPad, iPad mini, Galaxy Tab, among others to know how hard it is to use a Surface Pro or other Windows tablets to do stuff like reading books and comics, among others - they are too bulky and heavy. It's closer to holding a hybrid.

    Then again, can we really hold Microsoft responsible for something like that? Apple calls the iPad Pro a "portable PC"... heh.

  • No "laptop" or notebook PC forgoes a keyboard, however, as the Surface Pro lacks one. Badly.

  • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2017 @09:26AM (#54510059)

    I'm fine with however you sell it *so long as it is clear what is being sold*. If they want customers to try their luck without a real keyboard, then so be it.

    Personally, I imagined using it as a tablet a fair amount, but in practice, Windows is not very good at a pure touch experience. In general, I can't find any touch friendly applications in Windows. I just use android tablet and android applications if I want touch experience, since the closest Windows equivalents are terrible. Of course, there's only a handful of things that I will do without a keyboard (reading, music, video).

    While I have not put a desktop linux on that device, based on my experience trying to use Windows without a keyboard and my experience with desktop linux applications, I think it would be just as terrible.

  • by Misagon ( 1135 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2017 @10:15AM (#54510453)

    A few times when travelling for a couple of weeks at a time, I have taken a Windows 10 tablet with me without any type-cover.
    It was primarily not the keyboard that I missed, but a proper pointing device.
    Windows 10 still has some programs made for touch and some programs made for mouse and keyboard. For instance, when travelling you need to set up Wifi, and if you ever need to get into the real Wifi settings you do need to get into the classic Control Panel a lot, and that is still not touch-optimized. Neither is Explorer, so you can't move files around without moving files wrong now and then.
    Another thing is the high DPI screen, which is nice when a program supports it but when using an older program not built for high DPI, the buttons and icons are tiny and you [i]really[/i] need a pointing device.
    Yes, the on-screen keyboard is clunky and slows you down, but many casual users would not type faster on a real keyboard either.

    So, the most important aspect of having the type cover is not the keyboard but the touchpad that is on it.

    It seems to me that the reason why MS did not include either, and why they are still offering a 4GB option, is because they want to keep the "Prices from" amount low for advertising. Advertising concerns should not dictate a product's properties - a product's properties should dictate the advertising!

    • by Njovich ( 553857 )

      I had the exact same issue, but there is actually a virtual touchpad included in the latest version of Windows 10: []
      I think Microsoft originally intended you use the pen as a mouse, but I'm not a fan of that either.

  • My cover was 50$ and yes I bought it. What is the issue? You dumb? Its optional, cause it is. Where the hell is the definition that a laptop/computer must have a keyboard?

    How about laptops should have a "input device"? Since when are all input devices keyboards?

    This is a serious news item?
  • Anyone who has owned a Surface knows that the keyboard is not an issue. If you need one, you get one. In general, all these minor complaints mask the fact that the Surface is a great business oriented laptop, it's great for graphics, documents, meetings... with one large longstanding problem.

    THE issue with the Surface line is power. Does the power button work for more than a year? Does the charger connector still snap into place? Is the battery crap? Can you tell the difference between any of these problem

    • Thanks for pointing out the obvious. Surface is basically a fancy laptop, and a poor one. Surface sucks as a tablet. It's thick, it's heavy, and it's clumsy to use. The Windows 10 UI and its apps leave a lot to be desired in the tablet mode.

      I have to add that Surface Pro is also a very clumsy laptop. The keyboard bends and feels like it is made from recycled walmart plastics. It is not really a "laptop" because try to use it on your laps. Forget it! The screen is too unstable.

      Basically, the Surface Pro 4 li

  • I was more annoyed with no pen in the New Surface Pro coming out of the box. Sure.. sure.. There's 4096 pressure points, but seriously? No pen? That's cheap and low. The fabric covered keyboards - what ever.. I can manage, but no pen. That stings.

  • There is obviously a market for devices that cost more than they need to. Apple has proven this by selling its devices at a much higher markup than other brands. Who wouldn't want to be in that kind of business! Microsoft has seen an opportunity here, and went for it. Unfortunately for them, most of us consider price an important factor when buying our hardware, and naturally choose something else.

  • While I agree with the point TFA is making, its car analogy is totally baseless. You cannot use a car without wheels. You can use a convertible laptop/tablet without a physical keyboard.

    A more fitting car analogy would've been advertising a vehicle as an off-road vehicle, when 4WD is an add-on option and not standard on the base model. This is in fact how many SUVs are advertised, and their manufacturers have not been laughed out of the market.
  • In New Zealand, and I would imagine many other countries, if any of the material released by Microsoft, in any media format or source, refereed to it as a laptop and the consumer received it without a keyboard then they would be legally entitled to either a free keyboard or a full refund. I think under NZ law Microsoft may have the choice of which remedy applies but if they chose the refund option they would open them self up to prosecution under false advertising laws as a calling a device without a keybo

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