Today, Microsoft announced new hardware and software that signal a shift in direction for the company. If Microsoft took a page from the Apple playbook with a flashy reveal, it shouldn’t be a surprise. The Surface Laptop looks to have the MacBook—even the Pro version—directly in its sights. While the previous Surface products were all impressive devices in their own right, none of them were true laptops. Both the Surface Tablet and the Surface Book offered full laptop functionality, with the benefit of being able to transform into a laptop, but they each made compromises that might bother a laptop purist. Those discerning users should find little to quibble about with the new Surface Laptop.
Like that other major laptop and tablet maker, Microsoft paid just as much attention to the style and feel of their new laptop as they did to its technical specs. The Surface Laptop is crafted with a solid aluminum shell, for durability without excess weight, with the added benefit of looking really great. The shell is available in four unique finishes.
Aluminum can be uncomfortable to rest your palms on while working, so the entire keyboard surface (minus the keys and touchpad, of course) is covered in soft “Signature Alcantara,” a microfiber material that has the feel of suede but resists stains and is easy to clean. A new hinge mechanism was created to make the laptop easy to open with a single hand, yet still keep the screen steady while in use. That steadiness is invaluable when using the integrated touchscreen—which, by the way, is covered in Gorilla Glass 3 for extra resilience. The 13.5-inch PixelSense display continues Microsoft’s trend of fitting Surface devices with a 3:2 aspect ratio. Microsoft touts the new display as the thinnest LCD touchscreen ever used in a laptop.
Inside the svelte new machine, users have the option of a 7th generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor. The Surface Laptop is available with 4GB, 8GB or 16GB of RAM, and SSD drives ranging in size from 128GB to 1TB. Graphics processing is handed by either Intel HD Graphics 620 or Iris Plus Graphics 640, which should handle typical graphics tasks with aplomb and even allow for some light gaming. According to Microsoft, the i7 Surface Laptop will be faster than Apple’s i7 version of the MacBook Pro, while offering longer battery life. A claimed 14.5 hours of battery life would make the Surface Laptop one of the longest-lasting laptops available today.
One of the ways Microsoft is able to wring out such impressive battery life, aside from uber-efficient hardware, is the inclusion of a new operating system, Windows 10 S. This streamlined OS is designed with an emphasis on cloud-computing and utilizing Windows 10 apps, for a snappy user experience that also sips energy compared to an OS running full programs. While Windows 10 S is a fully-functioning OS, it is tailored towards students and teachers, with integrated features intended to bolster security and classroom productivity and special software offers like a free year of Office 365 Personal.
The Microsoft Surface Laptop is available for pre-order, and will begin shipping on June 15th.