Microsoft Says Surface 4, Surface Book Offer ‘Magical New Experiences’

microsoft-tablet-music

Microsoft on Tuesday unveiled new Windows 10 Surface devices – the Surface 4 and the Surface Book – that they say offer ‘magical new experiences’.

The Surface Book is Microsoft’s new flagship laptop.

While it’s clearly designed to be a Windows Macbook alternative, the Surface Book offers pen and touch support, which may interest a lot of musicians. MIcrosoft is even specifically targeting musicians with their advertising, like the image at the top of this article

Features:

  • Pen and touch support
  • Ultrathin
  • Intel Core™ i5 and Core™ i7 processors
  • Up to 12 hours of battery life
  • 13.5-inch high-contrast 267 dpi display with improved latency and parallax
  • The screen also detaches and can be used as a tablet

The Microsoft Surface Book starts at $1,499 for the base model (i5/128mb SSD/8GB RAM). The high end model (i7/512GB SSD/16GB RAM) is priced at $2,699.

WIth the Surface Pro 4, Microsoft is offering its best iPad alternative yet.

While Apple’s tablet strategy has been to create a new platform, with all hardware and software optimized for touch interaction, Microsoft has developed on a hybrid concept – a device that can run tablet-style apps, but that also doubles as a basic laptop.

The main benefit of this approach is that the Surface Pro line can run traditional Windows applications. The main downside is that there’s less incentive for developers to create apps tailored for tablet-style multi-touch interaction.

Microsoft calls the Surface Pro 4 ‘the thinnest, lightest and most powerful tablet’ that can replace your laptop.

Features:

  • 8.4 mm thick
  • 12.3-inch touchscreen display
  • Intel® Core™ m, Core™ i5, and Core™ i7 processors
  • Surface Pen packs 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivit

The Surface Pro 4 is priced starting at $899 for a low-end model (128GB/Intel Core m3/4GB RAM) and up to $1,599 (256GB/Intel Core i7/8GB) for a mid-range model. High-end models can be custom-configured, with up to 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD drives.

Surface Book, Surface Pro 4 and new accessories are available for preorder in select markets now. They will be available to purchase in Canada and the United States on Oct. 26, with additional markets to follow.

‘Magical’ New Devices

With the Surface 4 and Surface Book, Microsoft is trying to offer a compelling alternative to Apple’s iPad and Macbooks, which have been capturing most of the profit in their categories for years. This is reflected in the new devices’ design, price points, marketing and even the language Microsoft has used in their introductions.

“With Windows 10 and these new Microsoft devices, you are at the center of magical new experiences,” said Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft. “We’re moving people from needing to choosing to loving Windows, and these devices promise to fuel even more enthusiasm and opportunity for the entire Windows ecosystem.”

Are the new Surface Pro 4 and Surface 4 ‘magical’ enough to find a place in your rig? Let us know what you think in the comments!

53 thoughts on “Microsoft Says Surface 4, Surface Book Offer ‘Magical New Experiences’

    1. Lemme guess- haven’t used a Microsoft OS since Windows 95? Mac owner?
      My iPad freezes more in a day than my Windows computers have in several years…

      1. What are you doing to make your iPad freeze?

        I’ve had iPads since they were introduced and literally have NEVER had the OS freeze on me once in those 5 years.

        I’ve had apps freeze on me – but if a developer doesn’t fix the bugs and make the app stable, delete it and find something that’s properly maintained to use.

        To be fair, I’ve been running Windows 8 on my PC for several years and it’s been extremely stable, too. It has crashed a few times, so I don’t consider it as stable as an iPad, but it’s also much more powerful and doing a lot more all the time than I’d do on an iPad.

        I find it incomprehensible and frankly unbelievable, though, that you’d have daily iPad OS freezes. If you are, you should probably reinstall the OS or get the hardware checked, because that seems complete abnormal.

        1. Freeze is maybe the wrong word. Just trying to load this page and read the comments, the whole page went poof, I saw a distorted version of my desktop for several seconds, and then it went back to my desktop.
          New OS, old hardware is the issue, I think…

        2. I must say my iPad apps are far more unstable than my windows 8.1. Windows 8.1 is very stable. I’m on my 2nd iPad now. First was iPad 4 and now I’ve switched to ipad air 2. I’ve had to report a number of music app crashes in the 3 years I’ve been using ipad. I have an extreme PC too. Overclocked CPU at 4.8ghz and GPU also overclocked… oh and the 16gb ram is running at 2133mhz instead of its rated 1866mhz.

          I prefer using my ipad for music making though because it’s so portable and I love how inexpensive the apps are compared to most equivalent PC versions.

          1. I’d agree that a lot of iPad apps are less stable that traditional windows or OS X apps. I think that reflects the fact that you’re paying $5 for them, vs $100, but also that iOS developers have to work within the memory constraints of mobile devices, and some developers aren’t that good at doing this.

            I’ve never had an iPad lock up on me, though, so I think this app buginess falls on the app developers shoulders.

        3. Huh… iPad freezes?

          Sure things go wrong sometimes, that’s computing, but I’ve never regretted moving away from Windows to Mac, I went from spending a good 10% of my time every single day reinstalling drivers, restarting the computer etc… to hardly having to do that at all. Very rare to get a total crash like that on iOS/Mac OS X in my experience – that was the single biggest reason I made the switch and well, it was the right move.

          edit: sorry I replied to the wrong post1

  1. Seeing the videos of Bitwig running on Surface, I could absolutely make use of a Surface Book. Some sexy business right there.

    1. For such use I think the Core Audio API is important. Strangely enough does it seem to be unchanged compared to Windows 7 (have been looking for changes at MSDN but could not find specific changes for Windows 10).

  2. I think you’re supposed to ball up your fists and quickly bring them downward until they make contact with the screen. Once you hear a “smack” noise, you’re good.

    1. No, no, no…that’s 3D Force Touch. The new 3D Fondle-matic (or 3D Bad Touch depending on your location) comes with a courtroom doll to point out where Microsoft touched you.

  3. It’s kind of sad how hard Microsoft is trying to copy Apple’s look and marketing with these devices.

    They’ve completely dumped the Surface design style – which looked good, was original and tied in with the ’tiles’ colors of the Windows 8 interface – and they’ve switched to cloning the MacBook Air look.

    And they might as well have gotten Jony Ive to narrate their videos.

    These look like nice laptops, but they also look like a desperate response to Apple’s growing success in the enterprise. Apple’s Enterprise business has grown to about $25 billion/year and that’s all business that used to be Windows computers.

    By offering something that looks the same and is priced about the same, Microsoft is trying to give IT buyers a ‘safe option’ so they’ll buy the Surface Pro 4 over an iPad and a Surface Book over a MacBook.

    It’s probably a smart short-term strategy for them, but it also makes it look like they’re not confident that they can do something innovative that people will want to buy, so they’re falling back to copying the market leader instead.

    1. As an avid Mac user and developer, your analysis is about 4 years old and deeply flawed. The surface line has been successful for Microsoft and whilst it has not sold in volumes like the iPad or Air, comparing it to the iPad or even the Air suggests a lack of basic understanding in their respective functionality. What Microsoft is doing is actually very clever. For years now, Apple users, myself included, have wanted the power and complete iOS functionality in a iPad/Macbook hybrid. And where Apple has failed and piecemeals their development, Microsoft is actually being nimble. Imagine that, at a time when not long ago, reputable business schools across the globe made case studies about MS and its inability to adapt and move with the ever changing technology landscape, MS is actually being nimble and responsive.

      Thus I think this is actually going to be a formidable success for MS, and it may teach Apple to innovate rather than regurgitate and piecemeal their development process and release. This will not cause me to switch OS systems as I do believe and contend that the iOS is superior to that of MS, yet the hardware superiority is no longer there. Apple’s superiority is in their restrictive nature of matching their iOS to only a select hardware configurations. Strangely and ironically, this restrictive aspect has given them their “indie” company persona, and it is anything but. And if you have ever tried to build a stable “Hackintosh” you would know precisely what I am speaking of here.

      1. And one more point, Apple’s design sensibilities can no longer be considered “industrial”. I would contend that the Surface has a far more industrial and refined utilitarian appearance than Apple products. Apple has squarely moved in the luxury design realm with their ever expanding use of gloss finishes and shiny accents…to my dismay. John Ivy, a fellow Brit, thinks too highly of himself to take notice that some have caught up with him…and a few, a very select few are surpassing his “brilliance”. And yes, as an ardent Mac user I am critical because I expect more and to my discerning eye, Mac is not delivering on all fronts.

      2. “As an avid Mac user and developer, your analysis is about 4 years old and deeply flawed.”

        As a Mac, iOS and WIndows user, I think you’re seeing Windows 8 as a ‘best-of-both-worlds’ design, where I see it as a lowest-common-denominator design, where you basically end up using your finger like a mouse with apps that never get updated for multi-touch.

        When you say that Apple users want a hybrid ipad/MacBook solution, that might be true, but there’s really nothing to back that up. The Surface Pro has failed to make much of a splash in the market taking that approach, while Macbooks and iPads dominate the profitable areas of their respective markets and have great satisfaction ratings.

        A hybrid ipad/MacBook idea would be just as much of a lowest-common-denominator approach as Windows 10. What actually makes sense to do is to evolve the iPad and iOS to be as powerful a combination as a MacBook running OS X. This means the iPad hardware needs to get a lot more powerful and developers need to make more capable iPad apps. But no Mac or iPad user would think that running something like Ableton Live on an iPad – without really adapting the user interface for multi-touch – makes any sense.

        Tech news sites try really hard to make it look like Microsoft is challenging Apple’s MacBook dominance, but that’s not really happening. Microsoft’s revenue for the Surface line – per year – is less than Apple’s making in a quarter on the Watch.

        So, if you’re thinking that the Surface Pro is going to shake things up at Apple, it’s not. They’re going to see their continued success as validation of their decision to develop ‘best in class’ solutions vs hybrid, compromised ones.

        1. I don’t believe anyone said, nor imply that MS was suddenly going to deeply cut into Apple’s market share. Yet conversely the reality is that the MS Surface has no real competition from Apple, as Apple does not have a hybrid Tablet/Macbook running Mac OS X. And that is what I was referring to, and somehow you feel that is the “lowest common” denominator?

          Thus providing the flexibility of a tablet coupled with the power of a laptop, providing multi-touch capability (thus making it “future proof”), running a full fledged operating system is somehow a compromise to you? Alright….well.

          Another point of contention is that the app market provides a gateway to software scalability on a consumer level, and Apple will be hard pressed to abandon that market nor should they, yet you certainly realise that the iPad in its current iteration cannot and is not what most would consider professional level computing.

          Professional applications still require professional level power. I like the iPad and I have integrated it as an auxiliary tool, yet hoping for a time when it can be used as a primary tool, and that will only happen if it has the proper specifications.

          1. “The reality is that the MS Surface has no real competition from Apple, as Apple does not have a hybrid Tablet/Macbook running Mac OS X”

            That’s because the hybrid approach is a bad idea.

            Microsoft has taken a bad idea and executed it really well with the Surface Pro 2 & 3. And now they’ve put lipstick on a pig with the Surface Pro 4, taking a hybrid device that didn’t sell well and gussying it up to look like a MacBook Pro, in hopes that it will sell better.

            But the hybrid approach a bad idea – because your average user doesn’t want to spend the $200 premium to have touchscreen on their laptop – because they don’t need it for email and surfing the web. And most WIndows apps have never been updated for multi-touch, as a result.

            So you end up spending a $200 premium so you can use your finger like a mouse. And Microsoft’s Surface sales are puny as a result.

            So yes – in theory, the hybrid approach sounds cool. But the reality is that their hybrid approach forces Microsoft and Windows developers to take a lowest-common-denominator approach to developing apps.

    2. Copying? Apple does not offer anything similar to the Surface and Surface book. Seriously I would love to see an Apple computer with a touchscreen that can run Logic, Cubase, VST’s, Photoshop and Illustrator. Instead Apple will only release a bigger iPad with a keyboard and pencil, just like the Microsoft Surface (thank god Modbook is still in business and producing nice OSX tablets).

    3. 25 billion is small potatoes – Tim Cook acknowledged as much when he observed that it’s “a very small amount compared to what the opportunity is.” So it’s premature to over-confidently assert that Apple is threatening Microsoft’s hegemony in Business. Apple’s partnership with IBM and MobileFirst for iOS apps is a promising opening salvo but Microsoft has the stronger hand and will continue to maintain its position as long as Apple is committed to the secrecy needed to generate “market hype” – an approach which can work well in the consumer market but is a disaster in the enterprise.

      Now you can certainly make an argument that Microsoft is scrambling in the smartphone space.

      1. “25 billion is small potatoes”

        It’s about 6 times Microsoft’s Surface revenues (they had about $1.1 billion in revenue last quarter from Surface devices).

        With numbers like that – it doesn’t make sense to act like Apple’s enterprise sales are trivial or that Microsoft’s Surface line is any threat to Apple.

        And it’s clear, with numbers like that, why Microsoft is try to make the Surface line look like an attractive alternative to Apple’s iPad and MacBook lines.

        It’s hard to understand why people would take issue with those facts.

        1. Well, while we arguing with facts: the 25 billion in corporate sales is an unqualified number – Tim Cook did not give any details about how Apple arrived at the amount.

          The Wall Street Journal reported: “(Chief Executive Tim Cook) didn’t elaborate on what Apple classifies as enterprise business but said the figure didn’t include revenue from people who use their own Apple devices for work.”

    4. You are delusional if you think Apple’s claimed $25 billion in enterprise is largely made up of mac computers. It is overwhelmingly iPhones and iPads brought in by individuals part of BYOD. Look at the numbers for OSX and the needle hasn’t moved at all. It’s still in the 5% range of the OS installed base.

      1. flipper

        Looks like you’re taking issue with something I never said. I said that $25 billion was money that would have gone for Windows-based devices in the past.

        Also – that’s enterprise sales, which is complete separate from BYOD and you should know that.

        1. “I said that $25 billion was money that would have gone for Windows-based devices in the past.”

          Not necessarily. We’d need to know more about what Apple and its partners are selling to their corporate customers to decide.

  4. You Iman are off point in my opinion. The Surface devices offer plenty of features that Apple does not offer. This alone makes them thier own items with their own targets. Apple can not offer musicians the use of multi touch, that’s why Bitwig is running 1.3 on a Surface device and not an Apple device. Microsoft was smart to design the Surface devices the way they did because they look good and serve a functional purpose since the Surface Pro devices are tablet/laptop hybrids. Are you saying that every sleek, thin, aluminum bodied device is a rip off of Apple? FYI I own a Surface Pro 3 which I use for all of my mobile recording. I also own an iPad Mini I use for information conumption and to run music apps into my desktop or Surface Pro 3 so I understand the functionality, usability and implementation of both for music creation and it’s about time the Surface Devices get the credit they deserve for being useful tools for musicians.

    1. Red

      I never said that Windows 10 or the Surfaces didn’t have some cool features.

      I did say that it looks like Microsoft is desperately trying to copy Apple’s devices look, their marketing and their language. Do you think that Bill Gates or Steve Balmer would have ever said that their new computer offers a ‘magical new experience’? That sounds like ‘Steve Jobs lite’ marketing tripe.

      I also made the point that – while Microsoft’s Surface Pro/Windows 10 is a capable hybrid approach, it also suffers from lowest common denominator kludginess, because there’s no drive for developers to update their apps to really support multi-touch well. Working with multi-touch in iPad music apps is often a great user experience, while multi-touch in music apps on the Surface tends to be kludgy – because you basically end up using your finger as the mouse to click on really tiny buttons that only make sense for mouse interaction.

      That sort of garbage is stuff that power users may accept because they want a more powerful hybrid machine – but it just doesn’t fly for general use.

      We’ll have to revisit this in a few years ,and see if Microsoft has gotten developers on board to update their apps to have user interfaces that really make sense for both mouse and multi-touch interaction.

      1. iman, you are completely missing the point. You are talking about using apps to make music. If you want to make professional music with apps then go for it and stick with your ipad. The Surface Pro 3-4 can run a full DAW and VSTs with or without multi-touch and no ipad can do that. The only company to create a DAW with full multi-touch implementation is Bitwig, is Microsoft to blame because everyone else is just starting to trickle in to the party? I’ve ran Studio One and all of my plugs with no issue on my Surface Pro 3. I can sit on an airplane, and build synth patches, record notes on the piano editor and more. When I’m done editing I can close my DAW, upon up my Kindle and read, all on one device, ipad can’t do that. I can then go home and drop the file into my DAW and continue working. Microsoft is in the future on this one and everyone else needs to catch up. I have a ton of music apps on my ipad and on occasion I may record it into my Surface Pro 3, that’s how I get these two to fit into my workflow. You are knocking the Surface family because they don’t run all the $4 apps Apple has and are completely overlooking the fact that it is a solid tablet/laptop hybrid that can be a portable recording solution running a full DAW and VSTs. Also, if you connect it to the docking station you get more USB ports as well as additional power which almost turns it into a desktop. Have fun with your apps, I’ll be recording in my DAW, running my VSTs and maybe recording my ipad synths into my Surface Pro 3.

        1. Considering how many positive things I said about the Surface Pro, it’s a little bizarre how the Microsoft fans keep taking offense.

          Especially when you essentially made the exact same point that I am making:

          “The only company to create a DAW with full multi-touch implementation is Bitwig, is Microsoft to blame because everyone else is just starting to trickle in to the party? ”

          I don’t care who you want to pin the blame on – but Microsoft is on the 4th generation of the Surface Pro line, and there are still almost no pro music apps that have really been updated for it.

          And there are obvious reasons for this. By making touch optional, it’s a development expense that DAW developers have to justify – and they’re not doing it.

          So you’re paying $200 extra to have a Microsoft put a touchscreen on your laptop – thinking that you’re going to be in a sort of multitouch super-app nirvana – when the reality is that there’s no music software that takes advantage of that software.

          If you disagree – explain to me why you are optimistic and think that developers will start making these multi-touch pro music apps for Windows 10, And when do you think they will start appearing?

          1. I’ll say it again, the Surface Pro 3-4 are tablet/laptop hybrids that can run a full DAW and VSTs, an ipad can’t do that. I choose a sleek, powerful device that can pull double duty over a tablet that runs apps. I have the Surface Pro 3 and Bitwig and I have not even updated Bitwig to 1.3, that’s how much I care about multi touch in my music creation. The selling point for me was that I can have my tablet/laptop running pro recording audio all in one device. The Bitwig update is just a plus. And you are correct, I’m a windows fan but I also own a ipad an iphone so I’m not leaning one way or the other but there are clear benefits the Surface devices have over the ipads.

            1. Red

              You keep unintentionally making iMan’s case! When you say that you’ve spent more for a multi-touch laptop that doesn’t have any good multi-touch software and you don’t even care about the multi-touch music apps that there are – it makes me think you wasted your money.

              The real comparison is not to compare a laptop that starts at $900 to iPads that start at $250.

              The comparison that real people are going to make is comparing a Surface Pro to a typical Windows 10 computer or a MacBook.

              The Surface Pro is at least $200 bucks more than comparable non-touch laptops, just because touchscreens cost more than regular screens.

              So what do you get for the extra money? Basically you the added flexibility of using your laptop as a giant tablet – that doesn’t have much software.

              For musicians that use Windows, it makes a lot more sense to take the $200-300 premium that you’d pay for a Surface Pro and to spend that same amount on maxing out your computer’s RAM or SSD. That’s going to give you a LOT more performance benefits over the life of your computer than a touchscreen.

  5. Not a huge Microsoft OS fan, but the idea of being able to run a full blown DAW with VSTs etc. on a tablet is intriguing, especially with the use of a pressure sensitive pen. There’s a video on YouTube of Stimming using a similar setup and it actually looks pretty cool.

  6. This could get interesting. This machine has the potential to be tight, fastest processors and hardware on Microsoft Windows 10 purposed setup. It will be a benchmark for software to work on. If they can work hard with their own hardware and other software/hardware vendors then, maybe not this generation, this could get super-tight for audio production.

  7. The guys at Apple should be cracking up at this video, the same way musicians crack up with William Hung videos.

  8. I am definitely dumping the ipad for a surface (keep the ipad by the bed for web browsing!) as the ipad pro makes no sense for music next to the Surface 4 when I own all of my VST and Music Software in Windows format already, I am fed up of buying iOS ‘apps’ of VSTi’s I already own! Reaktor 6 on a Surface 4 anyone 🙂

    1. I could say the opposite, it would be amazing if I could run all of my iPad apps on a Surface!

      Please make it happen… then I might actually want to buy one of these and ditch the iPad 😉

  9. Seems expensive is this MSRP or streetprice? Either way it looks cool and if it’s stable I’ll pick one up in the future if Apple doesn’t release a touchscreen Macbook.

  10. I like the hybrid concept and I think all the MAC lovers here would also love to see an ipad pro whos able to run ableton live /// maybe with one usb port ///

    Please Apple take the next step

    1. Surface = (much, much more) prone to virus infections, trojans, etc – it is running a full version of Windows 10, after all. Also, say hello to constantly installing umpteen Windows updates, programs crashing because of buggy services/applications running in the background, etc. As an example, I am running Windows 10 on my desktop for the past two months and am fed up with installing updates almost every single week, having to close all my running apps and restart my computer.

      Yes, in terms of hardware / software capabilities the Surface is superior, although a very expensive device. I am curious how well it will do in terms of cooling fan noise / running temperatures, with all this powerful hardware inside a very thin frame.

      Either way, I applaud Microsoft – in terms of specs, they finally seem to have done a good job. Personally, I’d like to see the entire Surface line succeed commercially, if only to force Apple to innovate more aggressively.

      However, speaking as an owner of every single iPad model released so far, when it comes to the tablet form factor, I’d rather have a device that does fewer things but does them really well, as the iPad does.

      Most people don’t want to bother with all the details of running and maintaining a complex operating system, like Windows, they want something that Just Works, simple to use and reliable, while offering a decent user experience (attention to detail). And the iPad offers all that, most of the times – that’s why it sold so well.

      When it comes to the iPhones and iPads, no amount of ‘reality distortion field’ tricks can achieve these sales figures, year after year, if a product doesn’t perform a (limited for some) set of functions at a certain high level.

  11. The Surface Book would actually be perfect for me. I’ve been after a device like this for a while, but up until now no such device existed.

    2 USB3 ports. One for an audio interface, and second for ilok
    A small size, around 13″ is perfect
    Fast Skylake i7 CPU
    A GPU for video editing
    High resolution removable touch screen with stylus for Photoshop, or rotoscoping video
    12 hours battery life

    Similar products have existed before, but nothing with all of these features in one device.

    Only downside would be the price. But no worse than a MacBook Pro.

  12. Google and Apple presented their half baked Surface Pro 3 clones just a few days ago. And yesterday, MS made them pointless and effectively dead with the new Surface Pro 4. Just like that! And to make the things even worse, MS presented this!? For the first time in my life I’m like “I want this! Now!” 🙂

  13. One thing no one seems to have mentioned is the price, I’m just reacting here, there’s no evidence, research or even any actual real knowledge, but it feels really expensive; it’s making Apple stuff look inexpensive!!

    1. You have to realise this is a full fledged tablet with laptop power, not a app specific device. Thus it represents considerable value when compared to Apple tablets and macbooks.

  14. does the usb part (in the keyboard) work while the tablet is disconnected? i.e. midi and audio interfaces. if not that’s a pretty big miss imo. personally I’d much rather have both a laptop and apps designed for pen and multitouch use with good interoperability of file and communication protocols. apple was slacking on file transfer between iOS OS X , but seems like they finally got that sorted. ipad pro 2 mini or air should be legit. 😉

    ps the surface 12 hour battery life is only while docked. tablet is 3 hours alone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *