Microsoft general manager for Surface Ryan Gavin said that the iPad Pro is a “clear example” of Apple following Microsoft rather than the other way around, in an interview with Business Insider.
“Think about it, if we had been looking at [Apple] we wouldn’t have made a product like Surface Pro or Surface Book,” Gavin said. “We have been learning and perfecting our products in the 2-in-1 category for years now, [but] when Surface initially launched everyone was skeptical, including them. And then they followed, and the iPad Pro is a clear example of that.”
Of course Microsoft pays attention to the competition, but when it comes to actually building the Surface hardware, “we don’t really look at Apple,” Gavin said.
Microsoft was one of the many companies attending London Tech Week, and its dedicated “Studio Space” welcomed some people over from the firm’s Redmond headquarters to showcase the new Surface Laptop and Surface Pro devices, in addition to Surface Studio, Surface Hub, and the slightly older Surface Book.
Microsoft built the Surface Laptop because ‘our customers wanted it’
Microsoft has promoted the Surface Pro as a “tablet that can replace your laptop” since it first launched, so Surface Laptop — the company’s recently launched $999 (£979) laptop — could look like a redundant product as well as an admission that Surface Pro can’t actually replace a more traditional laptop for many customers. So why did Microsoft build it? “I’m gonna give you the short, non-BS answer,” Gavin said. “Our customers wanted it.”
“If you can’t take advantage of the versatility of Surface Pro or don’t need the power of [Surface] Book, then Laptop is the product for you,” he said. But Laptop comes with Microsoft’s new Windows 10S; a simpler, more tightly controlled, lighter version of Windows 10, that sacrifices the entire set of apps that don’t live inside the Windows Store — something that can be a little frustrating.
Gavin acknowledged the restrictiveness of the new system, but argued that customers who want and need more out of their PC can upgrade to Windows 10 Pro. Windows 10S is designed for environments such as schools and workplaces, but also for the many, less tech-savvy people who “value things such as faster load times and better battery life,” Gavin said.
Surface Pro, Laptop, and Book are the company’s mobile computers, but Microsoft has recently launched its all-in-one Surface Studio as well. Business Insider asked Gavin whether the iMac Pro — just unveiled at Apple’s WWDC developer conference earlier this month — would prompt Microsoft to follow suit and make a machine more suited for people demanding raw power.
Sure, the Studio is powerful enough already, but “what Studio represents is another part of the soul of the entire Surface lineup, which certainly pays attention to specs, but focuses on the overall experience more than anything else,” Gavin said.
An ultramobile Surface will not be ‘what we think of as a phone today’
Surface devices have generally received positive coverage, like our own review of the new Surface Pro: however, it’s hard to shake off the feeling that this lineup is missing one key piece, perhaps the single most important computing device out there, the smartphone.
It’s still speculation at this point, but in true Surface fashion, if the long-rumoured, phone-like device does come out eventually, we can be sure that it “will not resemble what we know and think of as a phone today,” Gavin said.