Yesterday, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) took the wraps off the new Surface Pro, the latest incarnation of its professional tablet that converts to a laptop. The new Surface Pro — it’s not called the Surface Pro 5 — gets the latest CPUs from Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC), a huge boost in battery life, new Type Covers, an improved Surface Pen and a $799 starting price.
After the recent Surface Laptop reveal, it’s clear that MSFT has Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) in its sights. The battle for consumers and prosumers starts on June 15 when both the new Surface Pro and Surface Laptop launch, worldwide.
MSFT Announces New Surface Pro
Microsoft’s Surface business was in the news in a bad way after the company’s last quarterly earnings report in April. Surface revenue for that quarter had dropped 26% to its lowest level in over a year. The Surface Pro 4 was a 2015 vintage device (as was the student-aimed Surface 3) and the Surface Studio — while an exciting and widely admired all-in-one PC — was an expensive niche product. The Surface Book was too expensive for mass market adoption.
Questions were beginning to be asked about MSFT’s commitment to PC hardware. Adding fuel to that fire, Microsoft’s Surface chief went on record with Business Insider several weeks ago to say “there’s no such thing as a Surface Pro 5.”
Turns out he was being literal.
Yesterday, Microsoft took the wraps off of what would have been the Surface Pro 5, but is now simply called Surface Pro.
Surface Pro Key Specs
- 12.3-inch PixelSense display
- 7th generation Intel Core “Kaby Lake” m3, Core i5 or Core i7 CPU
- 4GB, 8GB, 16GB RAM
- SSD option ranging from 128GB to 1TB
- Battery rated at 13.5-hours video playback
- 1.69lbs Core m3, 1.73lbs for Core i5, Core i7
- Optional LTE
- Optional Surface Type Cover, Surface Pen, Surface Mouse
- Starts at $799 ($719 for students)
Fighting Back Against the iPad Pro
Microsoft clearly took the time to make sure its new Surface Pro addresses key areas where Apple’s iPad Pro has had the advantage. Although the new Surface Pro looks nearly identical other than slightly rounded edges, the company told The Verge that it contains around “800 new custom parts.”
The entry and mid-range models have a fanless design for the same silent operation as Apple’s prosumer tablet. At 267 ppi the new Surface Pro’s display retains a slight edge in sharpness over both iPad Pro models (264 ppi). The massive 50% boost in battery life to a claimed 13.5-hours bests the iPad Pro’s 10-hours by a wide margin. Microsoft added LTE wireless connectivity as an option, something that had previously been available only on Apple’s iPads.
The new Surface Pen received considerable attention to ensure it can take on the Apple Pencil stylus. It’s no longer included as a Microsoft Surface pack-in, but the $99 Surface Pen gets 4096 levels of sensitivity, faster responsiveness and tilt recognition. There are also new colors for the Type Cover that transforms the Surface Pro into a laptop. With a base sticker of $799, the new Surface Pro starts at the same price as the 9.7-inch iPad Pro and comes in $250 less than the cheapest 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
The Apple Battle Starts June 15
June 15 is a big day for MSFT. While both the new Surface Pro and the Surface Laptop are available for pre-order now, they get a global launch on June 15. Expect a marketing blitz from Microsoft to mark the occasion. For the first time since it started making Microsoft Surface hardware, the company is going to have a comprehensive lineup of well-designed hardware set to take on virtually everything in Apple’s Mac and iPad lineup: the Surface Studio, Surface Book, Surface Laptop and now the new Surface Pro.
MSFT has the creative professional and premium consumer demographics — Apple’s stomping ground — fully covered.
Even with Apple expected to announce a new iPad Pro in June, and an iMac refresh later this year, the recent slide in Microsoft Surface revenue should soon be a distant memory.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.