Microsoft unveiled the Surface Pro 3 tablet at an event in New York on Tuesday, with a larger surface area than its previous model but weighing even lighter than a MacBook Air.
Created as “the tablet that can replace your laptop,” the Surface Pro 3 furthers Microsoft’s goal of creating a device that offers the productivity benefits of a PC with the portability and comfort of an iPad.
“[Tablets] are designed for you to sit back and watch movies, browsing the web and snacking on apps,” said Microsoft Corporate Vice President Panos Panay during the event. “Laptops are designed to do something … editing and making. Sometimes they come out clunky or beautiful, but that is a design point and they are made for that reason.”
“It doesn’t matter what store you walk into, the conflict exists,” Panay said. “What am I supposed to buy? … The response is, ‘What is it you want to do?’ … You’ve been told you need a tablet, but you know you need a laptop.”
The third-generation Surface Pro 3, which comes with a multi-position kickstand, features a 12-inch screen, much larger than Apple iPad’s 9.7 inches. It weighs 1.76 pounds without a keyboard and measures in at just 9.1mm, making it the “thinnest Intel Core product ever made,” according to Microsoft.
It comes with a 2160×1440 screen, microSD card reader and a USB 3.0 port and an access to Microsoft’s Office software suite, employed in businesses around the world.
Five models of the Surface Pro 3 will be available, starting at $799 for a tablet with 64 GB of storage, Intel Core i3 processor and 4 GB of RAM, climbing all the way to $1,949 for the top model with 512 GB of storage, an Intel Core i7 processor and 8 GB of RAM.
“We are not building hardware for hardware’s sake,” said new Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella, at the event. “We want to build experiences that bring together all the capabilities of our company.
Microsoft executives made frequent comparisons with the MacBook Air at Tuesday’s launch, making it clear that Apple’s lightest laptop, which starts at $899, was the device to beat, says Reuters.
Initial reaction was positive, but analysts have doubts that Microsoft can easily haul itself into a meaningful position in the hardware business.
“This is Microsoft’s best shot yet to move the needle in the right direction on market share gains,” said Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets.
“The odds are stacked against Microsoft, although we have to credit Nadella with putting his pedal to the metal to go after tablet market share, which remains key going forward.”
Another accessory shown off by Microsoft was a new pen with 256 points of pressure compatible with the latest Surface Pro. Microsoft hyped the ability to place one’s hand against the screen and write with a pen that feels natural for note taking and drawing.
Microsoft, which is recasting itself as a “devices and services” company, has not made much progress on the devices side, except for its Xbox game console.
The Surface, launched in October 2012 and updated last year, has about 2 percent of the tablet market, failing to make a dent on Apple’s iPad. Its sales reached $494 million in the first quarter of 2014, a 50 percent increase year-over-year. But the company loses money on each device it sells, Microsoft has only 3 percent global share in smartphones, chiefly through Nokia, writes Tech.