Microsoft Surface Attacks MacBook Air

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Today Microsoft made a somewhat major attack with its new ads for the Surface Pro 3, coming up against what some consider to be the reigning “King of Ultrabooks,” the MacBook Air. Perhaps Microsoft figured that they would spice things up a bit by taking potshots at Apple, just like the good old days(2006-2009, Google “Get a Mac”). Showing great confidence in their new Surface Pro 3, Microsoft released three new ads titled “Crowded,” “Head-to-Head,” and “Power.” In each instance the tech giant did not waste any time in making the Mac user feel stupid. The Mac user might as well of not even turned on his Ultrabook.

The issues with these two companies go back decades, so it is no surprise that eventually one of the two would try to pin a sticky note on the other’s back. However, a large question seems to sit awkwardly in the minds of the viewer after watching each of these commercials. Is Microsoft really in a position to pose these attacks on Apple? After all there is something to be said for friendly, healthy, competition. Before this question can really be answered, however, examining the hardware in question may help some.

The 13 inch screen on the MacBook Air was not designed for touch, and the 12 inch screen on the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 was, which gives one advantage to the Microsoft product.  The next point to consider is each device’s screen resolution. The Surface Pro 3 boasts an amazingly vivid 2160 x 1440 pixel (px) display, with the MacBook Air coming in at 1440 x 900 px without the famed IPS display.  Moving down to the keyboard, the MacBook Air has the point here because of having an integrated, and backlit, keyboard. While the keyboard on the Surface Pro 3 is backlit, many users may find it difficult to get used to the somewhat cramped surface-area, pun intended. Not to mention that the keyboard is not included in the purchase of a Surface Pro 3, consumers must pay an additional $130 USD for it. Being detachable may not be a great enough feature to convince the average consumer to buy one. Although, in an office environment the story may change a bit, but more on that later. Microsoft Surfaces attack on the MacBook Air so far is one for one.

Considering that the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, without the keyboard, is in fact a tablet; having a full size USB 3.0 port as well as a Micro HDMI port for attaching external displays, is quite a feat. However, being compared to a full Ultrabook like the MacBook Air, that may not be enough. With the Ultrabook sporting two USB 3.0, as well as a one Thunderbolt port, the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 finds itself arguably out gunned in the port department. Continuing on to the internals of these giants of industry, hard drive space is always important. Both of these devices have the same high-end capacity of 512GB SSDs, although the SSD inside the Surface Pro 3 is just a bit slower. The average user, however, is not going to be doing a side-by-side comparison, and so most likely will not notice the difference. While comparing the highest end versions of these devices it should also be mentioned that both come with 8GB of RAM maximum.

Processor speed is one of the most important specifications to consider when choosing which device to purchase and these two devices are no different. The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 comes with an Intel i7-4650U processor clocking in at 1.7 GHz, with a turbo clock of 3.3GHz. The MacBook Air has the exact same processor as well as clock speeds. Rapping up, both have 802.11 b/g/n/ac wireless capabilities, as well as Bluetooth 4.0. Without the keyboard attachment the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 reaches $1949 USD, while the MacBook Air runs $1749 USD.

Microsoft has always had the lions share when it comes to business users. While Apple has made large strides in this area, and no doubt many businesses may solely rely on Macs, there is little debate as to who is reigning in the business world. Because of the prevalence of both Microsoft Windows and Office in the workplace many companies will no doubt choose the Surface, so there is no need for additional training. In addition, running full versions of Photoshop, for example, with the Surface Pen is quite the game changer.

While much more can be said, and no doubt will be said, about these two devices, the fact remains that they are not really much different from one another in terms of hardware. Being a good sport will always be important in the “Big Tech” business, but until Microsoft pushes past living in 2006 there may not be too much more innovation in the industry. The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is a powerful tool, but it should be used to innovate and create more options for consumers, not attack Apple’s MacBook Air.

Opinion by Phillip Schmidt

TUAW – All 3 New Ads
Adweek – Every “Get a Mac” Commercial 2006-2009
The Verge

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