Following months of speculation, Microsoft finally unveiled its successors to the Surface tablets debuted last year. The Surface Pro 2 remains just what it always was: a Microsoft tablet built as an alternative to the Macbook Air. However, the Surface 2 is where the action is.
It might not have changed its mind about including an ARM processor and the Windows RT operating system that doesn’t allow users to install desktop applications. However, Microsoft has finally built a worthy competitor for the iPad, simply by better understanding its device’s own strengths.
Microsoft didn’t completely redesign the casing of the Surface 2, but it did include a few choice upgrades to make the device more striking to users than its black-covered predecessor. Microsoft opted to showcase the VaperMg material its Surface is covered in rather than paint it like it did with the Surface RT. This has added to the device’s premium feel, and makes it look the part of a true competitor worthy of taking on the premium design aesthetics of Apple’s aluminum-clad iPad.
Microsoft has also lightened the load of the VaperMg casing itself. Microsoft says that users will find the Surface 2 a bit lighter than the Surface RT. As the company is attempting to compete with a device that is constantly marketed as both thinner and lighter than it’s predecessors, making the device lighter and more upscale isn’t a bad thing.
With the Surface RT, Microsoft simply made the Type and Touch Covers available to users and hoped that third-party accessory makers would fill in the gaps. Obviously, they didn’t, and now Microsoft has returned with a lineup of accessories that puts even Apple’s first-party accessories to shame. The company has a new Touch Cover with more color options, a new Type Cover with new color options and a back-lit keyboard and even a keyboard that is equipped with a built-in battery to lengthen time between charges. Microsoft has also created new wireless adapters that plugin into the Type and Touch Covers for use with televisions and other displays.
It’s clear that Microsoft realized that it screwed up by not providing compelling accessories that enhanced the Surface experience in any way beyond typing. As they are competing with Apple, Microsoft had to take a serious look at the company’s Made for iPad program and ask how it could differentiate without third-party support. I believe it succeeded.
It Can Be Anything Users Need It To Be
Microsoft seems committed to the on the ideas that made the Surface RT unique among other tablets. With Apple continuing to peddle AirPrint and its Lightning Port for doing things normal users expect, Microsoft upgraded the full-size USB port on the Surface 2 to USB 3.0. Users can buy expensive iPad specific accessories that rely on proprietary technology, or they can keep using the same mouse, USB hub, keyboard and printer they are using with their PCs now.
The Surface 2 includes a second position for its built-in kickstand. It isn’t freely adjustable, but it’s still miles ahead of the absent kickstand on the iPad 4.
The Surface 2 also includes all the upgrades that come along with running Windows 8.1. That means more personalization, better side-by-side application multitasking, compatibility with even more USB devices and Office for free. Not Apple’s Office knock off iWork, but real Office. A productivity machine when you want, a presentation tool when you have a meeting and an entertainment device for all the moments in between. The iPad just can’t compete with that out of the box.
For these reasons, plus its newly upgraded processor and display, the Surface 2 is the closest Microsoft has come to besting the iPad, it’s truly a device built to rival the iPad hardware in every way that matters.
Microsoft is now taking pre-order for the Surface 2, the device will go on sale beginning October 22nd for $449.