It was a big week for Microsoft Surface team as they celebrated 5 years since the original Surface device released.
Surface boss, Panos Panay tweeted this week,
“Today is the 5 year anniversary of the Surface Pro. What a journey this has been. Incredibly grateful for the team that has been by my side through these years and for everything yet to come.”
I vividly remember when Surface Pro was initially introduced along with Windows 8. Surface was supposed to be that hero device for Windows 8 that would show Windows 8’s true potential as a touch first device.
It was a big push from Microsoft’s side to integrate its software with its own hardware, just like what Apple does. It was the first PC designed and distributed solely by Microsoft.
Last year I had written a two part article, Surface/iPad (Then) and Surface/iPad (Now) where I talked about how I feel about the two most important devices, how they differ from each other and what are their use cases. Their history and present (as of 2017) state. I encourage you to read these articles.
Tip: Microsoft Surface (originally) was an interactive surface computing platform that allows one or more people to use and touch real-world objects, and share digital content at the same time. The PixelSense (formerly known as Surface) platform consists of software and hardware products that combine vision based multitouch PC hardware, 360-degree multiuser application design, and Windows software to create a natural user interface (NUI). (source Wikipedia)
Surface through the years
Microsoft Surface Pro (1st Generation) released in February 9th 2013, was a 2-in-1 detachable device.
I owned this device as soon as it was released. It was a great device of its time, though not perfect.
It was bulky, small and bad battery life. It would barely give me 4 straight hours.
My device was a Core i5, 4GB Ram and 128GB hard disk. It came with a Surface Pen. Surface Pro 1 came with a storage expansion slot, 1 mini display port, 1 USB A port and a Surface Pen. Optionally but important accessory was the 2 kinds of keyboards available, Type Cover and Touch cover.
One of the unique selling point for the Surface Pro devices was the kickstand which popped out to 22 degrees angle position.
Microsoft Surface Pro 2 was very similar to the first one, released in October 2013.
There were subtle improvements over SP1 like improved hardware, for example SP2 came with Haswell Intel Processor, increased storage options, kickstand would go up to 55 degrees angle position and cover accessories. It features 10.5 inches display size just like its predecessor.
SP2 had internal storage options ranging from 64, 128, 256 and 512 and RAM up to 8gb.
In June 2014 Microsoft refreshed Surface Pro significantly and launched Microsoft Surface Pro 3. It departed from the old design and went bigger, thinner and lighter. It was the first device that was globally applauded and appreciated by tech pundits and consumers alike.
It features a larger screen of 12 inches with 3:2 aspect ratio. It was the first Surface Pro where the kickstand could be set anywhere between 22 to 150 degrees. The kickstand had a high resistance and firmness. Microsoft claimed that SP3 would last up to 9hrs of battery life.
Surface Pro 4 was released in October 2015, and the second Surface that I own and my current device, is a remarkable, and improved in all meaningful ways over Surface Pro 3.
The marquee features of SP4 included improved CPU (Skylake), pumped with more RAM and SSD options and went slightly bigger with 12.3 inches display with high resolutions.
It had similar features over its predecessor but had RAM options from 4 to 16GB and SSD from 128GB to 1TB. By now Surface Pro had become much better device over the years and something I still love and use everyday.
My configurations are Core i5, 256GB and 8GB of RAM. It is powerful enough to handle most difficult tasks, like running Visual Studio, SQL Server, multiple browsing sessions, Outlook 2016 all at the same time without any lag.
Surface Pen is also dramatically improved in this version which has 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity and is a bit heavy and rubberized tip. It feels a lot better to hold and the grip is fantastic. The other end of the Pen is a eraser which also doubles up as a button to perform different tasks, like opening OneNote.
Surface Pro (2017) and the current and latest of them all was released in June 2017. There is very little improvements over SP4, mostly internals or hardware improvisations.
It came with a 7th Gen Intel Kaby Lake processors. Skylake that was in SP4 was buggy and had many issues. Having Kaby Lake processors in the latest models was a sigh of relief for Surface fans who were unhappy with SP4’s performance. The m3 and Core i5 came with no fans which made the device a lot silent.
There were no changes in RAM or SSD options, but the kickstand was again improved which went all the way to 165 degrees angle position, a mode that Microsoft calls, Studio Mode.
Surface Pro (2017) has an additional option that includes cellular connectivity. So there are non LTE and LTE connectivity models sold separately.
We wish Surface team and Panos Panay a happy Surface 5 year anniversary.
Other devices in the Surface family include:
- Surface Book – is a powerful 2-in-1 detachable device. Current model Surface Book 2 is powerful enough for video editing and playing graphic intensive AAA games. This device is for Professionals and can be compared to MacBook Pro.
- Surface Laptop – A beautiful, premium laptop from Microsoft. This is the first true laptop with no detachable screen. It is a 13.5 inch screen and comes in beautiful colors: Cobalt, Burgundy, Platinum and Graphite gold. For those who are looking for a laptop for average computing tasks, this is a good machine for you. This device can be compared to a MacBook.
- Surface Studio – My favorite, an all-in-one 28 inch gorgeous display for true immersive experience. The device can adjust into a design mode or digital drafting table with Surface Pen and Surface dial. This is a expensive device with a starting price of $3,000.