What Microsoft Didn’t Tell You About the Surface Book

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Last week, Microsoft unveiled a host of products at a massive hardware event in New York City. CEO Satya Nadella threw down the gauntlet to their competitors (cough Apple cough) in his keynote speech when he stated that Microsoft has a plan to ‘invent new personal computers and computing’.

In addition to an updated version of the Band, the new Surface 4 tablet, two new Lumia phones and a fun demo of augmented gaming on the HoloLens, perhaps the most surprising new addition to the Microsoft hardware family was its first ever laptop. The Surface Book is a powerful 2-in-1 device that Microsoft Corporate Vice President Panos Panay described as being just at home on the office desk as it is in the hands of living room content-consumers. This claim was illustrated when Panay nonchalantly separated screen from keyboard to the sound of slightly underwhelming applause.

Make no mistake about it, had that been Tim Cook or Phil Schiller up on stage in Palo Alto, removing the screen of a new MacBook and turning it into an iPad running full macOS then even Satya Nadella would have heard the screams of adulation from his office in Seattle.

Microsoft’s hardware division have been quietly going about their business recently, turning the Surface into a billion dollar business and entering the wearables market with Microsoft Band. However, at the risk of seriously irking their OEM partners, Microsoft has now created what it is unashamably calling ‘the ultimate laptop’.

So here lies the most intriguing question that went unanswered (and unasked) about the Surface Book…why?

The clues lie in a recent report published by Gartner which estimates that PC shipments fell 7.7 percent in the last quarter, putting them at levels last seen in 2007. Combine this with the recent news that Dell, one of the worlds largest PC manufacturers is diversifying in a big way by buying data storage company EMC in a deal valued at approximately $67 billion.

With the traditional PC market in decline, Microsoft needs to find compelling reasons for consumers to continue buying Windows 10 ‘productivity’ devices. The Surface Book places the spotlight firmly back on PC’s and allows them to highlight the multi-device experience of their new operating system.

As with the Surface, it seems a case of ‘if you want a job doing right, do it yourself’.