Microsoft's new Surface Go is still not an iPad killer

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 10
Microsoft is at it again with yet another Surface hardware release. But, as with the rest of the Surface line, it doesn't look like the Surface Go will make much of an impact in the markets it seems to be aiming for.

Surface Go

The hardware

Billed as the "smallest, lightest, and most affordable" Surface to date, Microsoft's new Surface Go uses the seventh-generation Kaby Lake process Pentium Gold 4415Y, into a chassis with a 10-inch 1,800-by-1,200 pixel PixelSense Display, front and rear cameras, Surface Connect magnetic charging and docking port, USB-C port, a MicroSD card reader, headphone jack and Surface's trademark friction hinged kickstand.

Wi-Fi only models will be available at launch, with cellular-equipped versions shipping later this year.

Like other Surface hardware, Surface Go boasts compatibility with Surface Pen, Microsoft's custom designed stylus that affords 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, low latency and high precision input. Other supported accessories include a down-sized Type Cover with trackpad to match the new model's dimensions, as well as the Surface Mobile Mouse.

The Surface Go ships with Windows 10 in "S" mode. It can be shifted to Windows 10 Home for free, and Windows 10 Pro is available as a $50 upgrade.

Surface Go will go up for pre-order on Tuesday, July 10, in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the U.S. ahead of store availability on Aug. 2.

Microsoft plans to extend sales to China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand in the coming weeks, with more regions to follow.

This is Microsoft's third crack at less expensive Surface hardware. The first Windows RT effort failed, and the Surface 3 Intel Atom-powered device didn't fare that well either.

Issues at the low end

The biggest problem for the performance oriented user with the $399 model will be 4GB of RAM that the device has. Couple this with the very slow eMMC that the cheapest model uses for storage, and the device is pretty hampered from the get-go.

A second model is also available for preorder now, with 128GB of SSD storage eliminating the speed hit from the eMMC, and 8GB of RAM. The higher-end model retails for $549.

Microsoft itself recommends at least 8GB for Windows 10. And, like the iPad, a keyboard is optional, and extra. That starts at $99 for the Microsoft solution.

Surface lineup


As far as the rest of the lineup goes, the Surface Laptop is $999. The Surface Pro tablet starts at $799 without a keyboard. Both are notably faster than the Pentium Gold 4415Y in the Surface Go.

It appears that the Surface Go exists more to up-sell potential buyers to the Surface Laptop or Surface Pro, than as a viable product to seize marketshare in its own right.

But... why?

Windows, by itself, is not a bad operating system. In many respects, it is an engineering miracle that it works at all, given first principles that require it to support disparate hardware combinations..

Those first principles are why tablets like the Surface Go and others of its ilk can exist in the first place, running the same software. But, Windows 10 is in no way a touch-centric operating system -- to its detriment on tablets.

Like we've said before, Apple likes to maintain the "whole stack," and remains a software company, more than a hardware one. If you're reading AppleInsider, you probably agree with us that macOS and iOS are the right tools for the jobs that they fulfill, rather than shoe-horning one operating system across myriad needs.

Regarding the hardware, our best guess why Microsoft rolled out the Surface Go is to try and capture the school marketshare from Chromebooks, hoping that the Windows mind-share will carry the day. But, at this price point without a keyboard, it won't do that for the same reasons that the iPad is struggling mightily in that sector.

From a Windows-centric consumer and enterprise standpoint, there are better Windows tablets and full laptops to be had from other manufacturers. Dell, Acer, and Asus have many choices with better performance than the low-end Surface Go, as do many others, for less money.

Compared to other Windows hardware vendors, it even fails as a laptop replacement. How it will stack up against Apple's new advertising focus positioning the iPad as a laptop replacement remains to be seen. But, given the Surface line's lackluster performance in a shrinking PC market, right now it doesn't seem like it will make a dent at all.

This time around, Apple is in a better position, with a cheaper and faster solution to the tablet problem with the sixth generation iPad released in the spring. Certainly, Apple now sits in an different position in this battle with Microsoft versus the rest of the other ones over nearly 40 years of skirmishes.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    KITAKITA Posts: 129member
    The Pentium chip seems to be my major issue with this device. I think if they waited a few more months for Cannon Lake Y, they could have had a more compelling product. To expand on that, with Cannon Lake Y, they would have had AVX-512, LPDDR4 / LPDDR4X, Intel's 10 nm and a new architecture across the board. 
    edited July 10
  • Reply 2 of 29
    thttht Posts: 2,815member
    Biggest issue I see in the product is running MS Office on a 10” display device isn’t a productive experience, and there are a lot of 13” Windows laptops that people can get for the same price. Windows applications in generation won’t be a good fit for 10” devices.

    There doesn’t seem to be anything different strategy wise from MS’ attempts with the older generation 10” Surface devices.
    netroxwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 29
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,016member
    I assume that this is just a placeholder until the Surface using the Snapdragon 1000 arrives.

    https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2018/06/more-details-leak-on-snapdragon-1000-qualcomms-chip-for-windows-10-laptops/

    Makes sense to me. Pretty much the knife in the back to Intel that I expect to see from Apple as it transitions some of the Mac Product line to ARM.
    edited July 10
  • Reply 4 of 29
    cincyteecincytee Posts: 237member
    Windows, by itself, is not a bad operating system. In many respects, it is an engineering miracle that it works at all, given first principles that require it to support disparate hardware combinations.

    That may be the most gracious thing about Windows I've ever read here.
    SpamSandwichkkqd1337pscooter63argonautStrangeDaysmuthuk_vanalingamradarthekatredgeminipabala1234watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 29
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,760member
    cincytee said:
    Windows, by itself, is not a bad operating system. In many respects, it is an engineering miracle that it works at all, given first principles that require it to support disparate hardware combinations.

    That may be the most gracious thing about Windows I've ever read here.
    In its favor, it doesn’t explode like a Samsung Galaxy battery...
    radarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 29
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,224administrator
    cincytee said:
    Windows, by itself, is not a bad operating system. In many respects, it is an engineering miracle that it works at all, given first principles that require it to support disparate hardware combinations.

    That may be the most gracious thing about Windows I've ever read here.
    Right tool for the right job. I work on macOS, but can see how people would play on it. 

    I play on iOS and Windows, but can see where people can work on them too.
    star-affinitymuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 7 of 29
    deminsddeminsd Posts: 68member
    tht said:
    Biggest issue I see in the product is running MS Office on a 10” display device isn’t a productive experience, and there are a lot of 13” Windows laptops that people can get for the same price. Windows applications in generation won’t be a good fit for 10” devices.

    There doesn’t seem to be anything different strategy wise from MS’ attempts with the older generation 10” Surface devices.
    And yet, people run MS Office apps on an 9.7" iPad all the time.   So, what's the difference?  Also, it's much easier to "dock" this Surface GO to an external monitor/mouse/kb than an iPad will ever be, making for an easy "desktop" transition.  And with a USB port you can add or do anything with this, unlike the iPad, again hampered by a lowly lightning connector with very limited functionality.

    I really think comparing the iPad to a Surface PRO/GO is comparing apples and oranges.  An iPad isn't a computer replacement for most people and a Surface isn't a convenient touch device meant for media consumption (mostly due to Windows 10 and apps aren't touch-friendly).
    edited July 10 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 8 of 29
    deminsd said:
    tht said:
    Biggest issue I see in the product is running MS Office on a 10” display device isn’t a productive experience, and there are a lot of 13” Windows laptops that people can get for the same price. Windows applications in generation won’t be a good fit for 10” devices.

    There doesn’t seem to be anything different strategy wise from MS’ attempts with the older generation 10” Surface devices.
    And yet, people run MS Office apps on an 9.7" iPad all the time.   So, what's the difference?  Also, it's much easier to "dock" this Surface GO to an external monitor/mouse/kb than an iPad will ever be, making for an easy "desktop" transition.  And with a USB port you can add or do anything with this, unlike the iPad, again hampered by a lowly lightning connector with very limited functionality.

    I really think comparing the iPad to a Surface PRO/GO is comparing apples and oranges.  An iPad isn't a computer replacement for most people and a Surface isn't a convenient touch device meant for media consumption (mostly due to Windows 10 and apps aren't touch-friendly).
    I think running Win10 on a 4GB device with a crappy processor and eMMC memory hinders the GO’s usability much more than the iPad’s Lightning port. 
    redgeminipawatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 29
    Still waiting for Xcode on the iPad. In the meantime, this $400 Surface is not a bad device for a software developer since it runs Visual Studio just fine. Going to keep harping on this until my iPad "Pro" is actually usable by a pro software developer.
    edited July 10
  • Reply 10 of 29
    deminsd said:
    tht said:
    Biggest issue I see in the product is running MS Office on a 10” display device isn’t a productive experience, and there are a lot of 13” Windows laptops that people can get for the same price. Windows applications in generation won’t be a good fit for 10” devices.

    There doesn’t seem to be anything different strategy wise from MS’ attempts with the older generation 10” Surface devices.
    And yet, people run MS Office apps on an 9.7" iPad all the time.   So, what's the difference?  Also, it's much easier to "dock" this Surface GO to an external monitor/mouse/kb than an iPad will ever be, making for an easy "desktop" transition.  And with a USB port you can add or do anything with this, unlike the iPad, again hampered by a lowly lightning connector with very limited functionality.

    I really think comparing the iPad to a Surface PRO/GO is comparing apples and oranges.  An iPad isn't a computer replacement for most people and a Surface isn't a convenient touch device meant for media consumption (mostly due to Windows 10 and apps aren't touch-friendly).
    The Office iOS apps are optimized for the device and OS. This is Windows 10. A big difference actually.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 29
    cincytee said:
    Windows, by itself, is not a bad operating system. In many respects, it is an engineering miracle that it works at all, given first principles that require it to support disparate hardware combinations.

    That may be the most gracious thing about Windows I've ever read here.
    I must say I agree that I’m impressed by Microsoft’s ability to make Windows 10 run on so many variants of hardware, especially concidering my recent experiences of getting the current version of Windows 10 to run on the first Mac Pro from 2006 (MacPro1,1).

    It works really well (with a more recent graphics card than it shippped with - GTX 460) and it’s a bit ironic since the by Apple last officially supported release of OS X/MacOS for that computer is Lion(!). It’s possible to get as far as El Capitan (minus the latest security update) by a small hack, but that’s it.
    argonaut
  • Reply 12 of 29
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,515member
    cincytee said:
    Windows, by itself, is not a bad operating system. In many respects, it is an engineering miracle that it works at all, given first principles that require it to support disparate hardware combinations.

    That may be the most gracious thing about Windows I've ever read here.
    ROFL
    muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 29
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,208member
    Put LTE and GPS in this thing and my work's IT department will insist on phasing out iPads for this. It will be a fight with users, but IT will win.
    edited July 10
  • Reply 14 of 29
    danvmdanvm Posts: 629member
    deminsd said:
    tht said:
    Biggest issue I see in the product is running MS Office on a 10” display device isn’t a productive experience, and there are a lot of 13” Windows laptops that people can get for the same price. Windows applications in generation won’t be a good fit for 10” devices.

    There doesn’t seem to be anything different strategy wise from MS’ attempts with the older generation 10” Surface devices.
    And yet, people run MS Office apps on an 9.7" iPad all the time.   So, what's the difference?  Also, it's much easier to "dock" this Surface GO to an external monitor/mouse/kb than an iPad will ever be, making for an easy "desktop" transition.  And with a USB port you can add or do anything with this, unlike the iPad, again hampered by a lowly lightning connector with very limited functionality.

    I really think comparing the iPad to a Surface PRO/GO is comparing apples and oranges.  An iPad isn't a computer replacement for most people and a Surface isn't a convenient touch device meant for media consumption (mostly due to Windows 10 and apps aren't touch-friendly).
    The Office iOS apps are optimized for the device and OS. This is Windows 10. A big difference actually.
    There are mobile versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, optimized for touch and small screens. 


    I use them in my SP4 when I'm in tablet mode and change to the desktop version when working in laptop / desktop mode. 

  • Reply 15 of 29
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,224administrator
    entropys said:
    Put LTE and GPS in this thing and my work's IT department will insist on phasing out iPads for this. It will be a fight with users, but IT will win.
    That doesn't seem cost-effective. I'm pretty sure that the LTE model will be at least $100 more.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 29
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,560member
    Surface tablets = not very good tablets and not very good laptops.  Plus this model has a slow cpu and storage.  Would be a better idea to pickup a cheap windows laptop for the same money.
    radarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 29
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 325member
    entropys said:
    Put LTE and GPS in this thing and my work's IT department will insist on phasing out iPads for this. It will be a fight with users, but IT will win.
    So your IT department is more interested in keeping a workflow of underperforming machines to repair than it is in providing company employees with the machines that they actually want to use (because they don't have to keep calling the help desk to fix PC problems, among other reasons). This is why I spend more time doing my work on my own Apple hardware than I do on my work-supplied HP PC running Windows 7 that won't be upgraded or replaced until the hard drive fails.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 29
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,208member
    Yes it is. It is an ideological position. It started when surface first came out, and has continued, even though the number of surface machines ordered has declined in favour of HP and Dell 2 in 1s and ipads have continued to be available simply because they are more fit for purpose than surface.
    To order an iPad though has become increasingly difficult, and there a lot of little things to make it so. Like network access And user profiles that excessively cripple functionality (iCloud access and services are verboten, but not Dropbox or onedrive), and IT do not add MS office as standard. You have to pay the jizya from other than the IT budget.  
    Like al religious battles, if you are in the tent you do not have to pay seperately for Office, and this is the case on surface machines.  You also have to fill in a form explaining why you need an ipad instead of Surface.
    edited July 10
  • Reply 19 of 29
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 5,383member
    deminsd said:
    tht said:
    Biggest issue I see in the product is running MS Office on a 10” display device isn’t a productive experience, and there are a lot of 13” Windows laptops that people can get for the same price. Windows applications in generation won’t be a good fit for 10” devices.

    There doesn’t seem to be anything different strategy wise from MS’ attempts with the older generation 10” Surface devices.
    I really think comparing the iPad to a Surface PRO/GO is comparing apples and oranges.  An iPad isn't a computer replacement for most people 
    Define most people? For normals like my parents, they’re entirely happy on their iPads and no longer screw around with desktops. 
  • Reply 20 of 29
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 5,383member
    Still waiting for Xcode on the iPad. In the meantime, this $400 Surface is not a bad device for a software developer since it runs Visual Studio just fine. Going to keep harping on this until my iPad "Pro" is actually usable by a pro software developer.
    Yeah right. Running VS on a $400 Surface with no keyboard, 4gb of ram, slow processor, short battery, and a puny screen. Are you high? As a pro enterprise dev who runs VS daily I can tell you that’s a joke. I need VS, SQL Server, VMs, a bigass monitor or two, etc... Ain’t happening on a keyboard-less tablet with 4gb of ram. Try again. 

    Theyre simply different use cases. A tablet needn’t pretend to be all things to all use cases. 
    edited July 10 pscooter63horvaticwatto_cobra
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