Microsoft Surface Book Review: So Good, I Might Switch Back To Windows

Microsoft Surface Book Review: So Good, I Might Switch Back to Windows

Here's a crazy one. In the progression of gadgets to crawl from the primordial pool, Microsoft's ambitious Surface Book feels like a punctuation mark. It's a turn from the expected, and for me at least, it's a computer so enticing, and habit changing, that I'm thinking — Hey, what about Windows?

What Is It?

Microsoft Surface Book Review: So Good, I Might Switch Back to Windows

Microsoft's first ever laptop.

It's got clever design, which enables its 13.5-inch, 3000 x 2000 display (267 dpi) display to detach from the rigid keyboard base so that you can wield the display as a tablet.

The least expensive model ships with the latest Intel Skylake Core i5 processor for $2299 in Australia — it's basically a Surface Pro 4 with much fancier industrial design. You can upgrade it to a Core i5 with a discrete Nvidia GeForce graphics processor starts at $2949, and you can climb the specification ladder to an i7 with Nvidia GPU and 1TB of storage for $4199.

The bulk of this review refers to the base $2299 configuration, however, we did some testing with a souped-up $3299 Core i7 model with Nvidia graphics as well.

Microsoft Surface Book Review: So Good, I Might Switch Back to Windows

The Surface Book's announcement sent a tense shiver of surprise into the world of consumer electronics, but it didn't exactly come out of nowhere. Microsoft's been trying to turn itself around for years. The Surface Book's premium price and meticulous design seems to be an outright acknowledgement that great hardware is just as critical as software.

You can trace this new laptop to the introduction of the first Surface tablet-laptop hybrids three years ago. We've come a long way since that disaster and the concurrent Windows 8 flop, to devices and software people actually want. Microsoft recently doubled down on its hardware push by acquiring Nokia, which made spectacular Windows Phone handsets that were hobbled by Microsoft's exceedingly minimal operating system. More importantly, Microsoft just pushed out Windows 10, a vastly improved OS designed to work across all platforms. It's a single OS for phones — new Microsoft Lumias are due in November — computers, tablets, and even for the company's next-gen Xbox One gaming console. It's a spectacular OS, and at the time of the Surface Book announcement, it was already installed on 110 million devices.

So where does that leave Surface Book — this weirdo thing? Man, dammit, Surface Book is gorgeous and different. It's powerful and pricey. Its design invites you to consider what a computer could do for you — as opposed to merely settling for what you need a computer to do. Your laptop should double as a huge tablet with an industry-leading display, and you should be able to write on it with a perfect stylus. No compromises. This is what the Surface Book makes you to demand from a device.

Microsoft Surface Book Review: So Good, I Might Switch Back to Windows

It's an aspirational concept, both for users and for the company itself. Flatly, a $2299 laptop is never going to reach the bulk of Microsoft's customers, most of whom will probably use sub-$1500 Windows 10 machines from third-party manufacturers. But it's there as a totem, representing an idea anyone can buy into. But as an expression of Microsoft's ambitions, and future, Surface Book reveals an almost Jobsian preoccupation with details. Should the Surface Book succeed as a viable conceptual alternative to Apple's proven, stale status quo, well, the future's going to look a lot different.

Of course, the potential pitfalls to such an ambitious design, are plentiful. There are a lot of moving parts. It only take one failure to kill the whole campaign.

Design

Microsoft Surface Book Review: So Good, I Might Switch Back to Windows

Surface Book is nothing if not an outrageously over-engineered vessel for Windows 10.

From the outset, it looks just like a shiny big magnesium clamshell, but as we know, this laptop is a convertible, and the whole thing works because of an immaculate hinge design. It's all about the hinge, which is composed of narrow strips that dovetail together. The mechanism opens and closes without the slightest creak. It's movingly well engineered.

Using a little release button on the top right of the keyboard, the screen detaches and becomes standalone tablet. It's worth noting how Microsoft accomplished this convertible format. Obviously in order for the display to be detachable, it has to contain all of the guts the device needs to run, including processor, flash storage, battery, etc.

Microsoft Surface Book Review: So Good, I Might Switch Back to Windows

However, the keyboard doesn't go to waste as a place to stuff guts. In the base model, the keyboard houses additional battery. In the more expensive version, the keyboard holds the discrete Nvidia graphics processor.

The best comparison for the Surface Book as a whole is the MacBook Pro, but without its keyboard, it strongly resembles the Apple' iPad Pro. The Surface Book's display is slightly larger and heavier than Apple's 12.9-inch jumbo tablet. The display is a big one — 13.5 inches of satisfyingly metal and glass, jammed with 6 million pixels. That 3000 x 2000 resolution translates to 267 pixels per inch, compared to Apple's 265ppi. This is probably the most beautiful display I've ever seen on a computer, and its rated contrast ratio, which is an indication of the widest gamut of light and dark the screen can represent, blows all other competitors away.

Microsoft Surface Book Review: So Good, I Might Switch Back to Windows

Moving on from the strictly standalone screen, you can also reattach the display backwards on the keyboard, so that it folds up with the display facing outwards. Microsoft calls this the "clipboard" position. When you cradle in it in your arms this way, I half imagine I'm officiously taking stock in a store, or making rounds at a hospital.

Microsoft Surface Book Review: So Good, I Might Switch Back to Windows

And it's here where the newly redesigned Surface Pen comes into play. The silver stylus has come a very long way on aesthetics and usability from the original. Perhaps the most important addition this time is that it's magnetic, so it can snap into the side of the display.

Using it

Microsoft Surface Book Review: So Good, I Might Switch Back to Windows

The challenge of the Surface Book's forward-looking design is trying to be everything all at once. So how does it hold in these various possible use cases?

As a laptop for doing work...

Despite design, which is supposed to make the Surface Book a versatile powerhouse, I used the device mostly as a laptop, and in this more traditional mode, it's mostly a complete dream with only a few caveats.

For one, the 3:2 aspect ration really affords you a lot more viewing space than what you get from the 16 x 10 display of a MacBook Pro. Also, the i5 configuration performs swimmingly for your basic internet browsing, Netflix watching, light photoshopping-type behaviour. Battery life is fantastic — I regularly got through 6-7 hours of work without charging. Thanks Skylake!

The keyboard clickity clacks away with speed. No complaints here, but I'm a pretty sloppy typist, so if it was holding me back, I probably wouldn't even know. I will say that I'm totally enamoured with the crisp alto thwack the keys make as your fingers dance across them.

Microsoft Surface Book Review: So Good, I Might Switch Back to Windows

Then there are the downsides. The first is an inconsistent trackpad that's jumpy, and often too sensitive or not sensitive enough. After nearly two weeks using the Surface Book, I've grown accustomed to the trackpad's wonky behaviour. But that's hardly the way you want to describe a gadget, especially one that's theoretically a be-all-end-all gadget supreme.

A few times, I ended up connecting an external mouse because I was so frustrated with it. The good news is that Microsoft has acknowledged the problem and says there is a firmware patch coming in early November. The performance was bad enough that I would suggest holding off on making any purchasing decision until you know for sure the firmware delivers on its performance promise.

Microsoft Surface Book Review: So Good, I Might Switch Back to Windows

The other difficulty, albeit a minor one, is that the flexible design actually makes the laptop a little tricky to handle sometimes. The laptop is a joy to use when its sitting on a desk or if you're seated such that the computer can sit fully flat on your lap. Unfortunately, this isn't how people actually use laptops most of the time. If you're hunched in the corner of an airport, lying on your bed, or splayed out on your couch, you're going to run into problems owing to the Surface Book's screen-heavy weight distribution. Whereas a MacBook Pro carries all its weight on in the keyboard base, the Surface Book carries it up top.

As a big-honkin' tablet...

That beautiful display looks even more striking when detached from its keyboard. Just be prepared to hold it with two mitts because a 13.5-inch tablet is a big-arse hunk of gadget. Depending what exactly you're trying to do, it can be a little cumbersome. Whereas smaller tablets like the iPad are fine to hold up for long periods of time when you're lying in bed, the Surface Book's comes in at 861g without the keyboard, which doesn't sound like a lot, but you really start to feel it if you're trying to read a long magazine article or watch a TV show.

To keep it short, this laptop/tablet hybrid definitely skews more lap-friendly.

On the i5 configuration you don't lose any performance because the processor is fully included in the top half of the computer. In configurations with discrete graphics, you obviously won't be able to reap the benefits of the processor you leave behind in the keyboard base when you disconnect the display, so don't expect desktop-class gaming on the go.

As a note-taking device...

Microsoft Surface Book Review: So Good, I Might Switch Back to Windows

Admittedly, using a stylus to take notes on a display is far from my natural computing state, but the Surface Book and new Surface Pen are a pleasure to use. Microsoft has shaved the thickness of the glass so thin that to your eye, the surface is finally starting to feel like you're actually writing or drawing pixels right on the display.

In fact, it's very intuitive. Last weekend, an artistically inclined friend of mine grabbed the stylus and was drawing a little picture in OneNote within seconds. It feels completely natural. Perhaps the biggest hurdle Microsoft needs to overcome here is the natural aversion people like me have to dragging metal over glass. It doesn't feel right emotionally, but the physical experience has caught up with reality. In other words, I could use it, but I'm not really sure I want to yet.

What about graphics?

Microsoft Surface Book Review: So Good, I Might Switch Back to Windows

For good measure, I tried out the discrete graphics configuration to see what it could do.

Obviously, this isn't intended to be a gaming laptop, but in the event that you wanted to play a game, can this $2949 laptop keep up? I played a few graphics intensive games like Tomb Raider, and found that they hummed along nicely at high frame rates with the graphics set to medium quality. At high quality, however, performance got pretty choppy. So you can play games, but its not able to handle graphics-intensive maxed to 11.

The more likely use case for the discrete graphics is in a design context. We had Gawker animator Devin Clark hook up his giant Wacom Cintiq display to the Surface Book to see how it might work. The Surface Book had no trouble powering the huge touch display on its own, however, things got pretty laggy when the computer's screen and the Cintiq were both going. So it's got some power, but Microsoft hasn't shoehorned a miracle into that svelte design.

Should You Buy It?

Microsoft Surface Book Review: So Good, I Might Switch Back to Windows

The Surface Book isn't perfect, and from a strictly performance point of view, it's an expensive computer. Consider that in its base configuration, the Surface Book is just a $1349 Surface Pro 4 with a rigid keyboard and a souped up display. It's got no competitor on price or design on the Windows 10 platform. But millions of people have been paying premium for ages for Macs. You want premium Windows? Microsoft now has what you're looking for.

Of course, for its lovely display and the impressiveness of the design that allows the laptop to quickly transform into Godzilla tablet, the device's ambitions promise more than they deliver in terms of utility. And there are drawbacks, most noticeably the bunk trackpad. However, if Microsoft fixes that as it's promised, you'll be left with a pricey machine you won't regret.

As for whether to go for the base or consider springing for the $2299 (for starters!) model with discrete Nvidia graphics, the answer is... maybe? Again, that's a lot of money for a computer that's not going to perform at the very top of the line. You'll be paying in part for design. Did you ever think you would say that about a Microsoft gadget?

I love it.

Photos by Michael Hession. Additional reporting by Nick Stango


Comments

    They look amazing but seriously......

    "i7 with Nvidia GPU and 1TB of storage for $4199"
    Roughly = AUD $5800

    In this day and age those specs for $5800 (FIFTY EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS !!!!!!) is absolute madness. I could probably spec out the best/most reasonable desktop PC I could dream of as well as buying a low end ultrabook (might even have some change left over) for that price.

      This post reflects Australian pricing (source: http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msaus/en_AU/pdp/productID.326556100?s_kwcid=AL!4249!3!80629413437!b!!g!!%2Bsurface%20%2Bbook&ef_id=UolOCwAABSzxoGLX:20151022231056:s)

      When a price is in US (as sometimes it has to be, we'll refer to it thusly: $US1.

      Cheers!

        Well i was on there yesterday and 4199 was for 512gb version. There was no 1tb option yet like the US get.. havent checked today

        Ok that's slightly better, could still probably buy a MORE than capable desktop rig and low end ultrabook :)

        I know I know, horses for courses but still..... $4200 for that rig is crazy.
        I respect what they can put into the machine, I just wish they could do it a boatload cheaper (and by cheaper I mean what's reasonable for Q4 2015).

          To be fair, a 15" MBP with a 1TB drive is 4900, so it's not really an uncompetitive price.

          $4199 is less than a new Dell M3800 with similar specs. I got my M3800 when the dollar was still at parity, but it was still $4300. Today you will pay a staggering $6359.10 for an M3800 with a high-res display, 16Gb of RAM and 1Tb of SSD storage. OK, the M3800 does have a quad-core Core i7 and proper Quadro graphics to justify that price (or attempt to) but still, it shows that pro gear does not come cheap. I didn't hesitate to place my Surface Book pre-order.

      Don't buy RRP who does wait till an end of reporting period and call the rep and get 60% discount

      We have many Dell workstations I use a laptop M4700 better than my tower T5500

      Windows hardware is too expensive, they should drop by 50% to be considered. Till then Dell Rules followed by HP. Meecrasoft is just making expensive toys like apple for rich kids.

    That gap between the screen and keyboard when closed just looks odd to me, I assume that's just an aesthetic thing to make it look more like a book but I'd still prefer it to just close flat.

      I think it's a marketing ploy so that anyone will be able to spot a Surface Book from half-a-mile away. think of it as being like Apple distinctive white earbuds - it tells everyone you can afford the latest top-of-the-line gadgets. I reckon it will work brilliantly in that way.

      Not a fan of the money clip design hey? :P

      I thought it's so the screen doesn't press the keys, but I've only seen photos

      In their first look, Anandtech puts it best as to the function/utility the hinge performs (it's not just aesthetic):

      Obviously one of the signature design elements of the Surface Book is the hinge. I think this might be somewhat a love it or hate it idea. The hinge unrolls and actually lengthens the base of the notebook. Balance is the key here. With the majority of the notebook parts in the display, Microsoft is trying to avoid the one pitfall that most detachable 2-in-1s have, which is their tendency to tip backwards. By extending the base, Microsoft needs less weight in the base to overcome that balance issue. I’ve been told that the design means that they can get by with a 0.8:1 ratio of base mass to display mass. The other benefit of having the strange hinge which does not close completely is that the keys never touch the display. Most notebooks have the keyboard sunken in the deck, which reduces the maximum key travel. The extra room provided by the hinge lets Microsoft offer a 1.6 mm key travel on a very thin base. It also lets the Surface Book actually look like a book when it’s closed, which is a nice take on the design.

      Source:
      http://www.anandtech.com/show/9732/the-microsoft-surface-book-first-look

      Last edited 24/10/15 2:31 pm

    Are those prices USD??

      No, those are local AUD prices.

    "Here’s a crazy one. In the progression of gadgets to crawl from the primordial pool, Microsoft’s ambitious Surface Book feels like a punctuation mark."

    What the hell does that even mean?

      I translated that as - if progress was a living thing, the Surface Book is the product of it stopping for a wee.
      Like little boys writing their names in snow.

      Just journalistic wank. There are the odd sentences that convey information; but they are intertwined in the crap that journalists write thinking they they're really clever.

        This is a tech blog, not just some news outlet. It is intended to be read by aficionados that enjoy being entertained and provoked to thought in addition to being informed.

          I -am- a tech aficionado, by most every meaning of the statement. I'm also quite proficient in my use of the English language. Yet, I still cannot comprehend this sentence, hence the question.
          To me it really -does- sound like nonsensical journalistic wank, and none of these comments have given me any greater understanding than that, so.....

    If the trackpad is as bad as claimed another swing and miss in my opinion. It's the reason I keep going back to a macbook as far as laptops go. I love my windows desktops and the mouse and keyboard combo is fantastic, but still yet to use a windows laptop where the trackpad didnt suck.

      That's you. I have never used a trackpad that wasn't complete shit. They don't map 1:1 with the screen, which makes them totally useless. I see idiots in cafes using them on their Airs all the time and they just make me laugh. I fire up my Yoga 2 and pull out my Arc Touch mouse and just get on with things while they scroll, scroll, scroll to get around the screen. It's hilarious watching them.

      I'd actually pay a significant premium, maybe an extra couple of hundred, for a laptop with a trackpoint and no trackpad. With this thing, like every laptop I've ever owned, I will use a mouse 95% of the time and the rest of the time I'll use the ginormous touchscreen. I've had my M3800 for about 15 months now and I don't think I have used the trackpad even once. It might be the most brilliant trackpad of all time, I wouldn't know and will never find out. I don't even understand why they bother with trackpads in machines like this, they are a complete and utter waste of space, time and money. They are only there for the Luddites.

        You laugh at people using their trackpads and feel superior. It seems you may have some borderline personality disorder. I hope you find the help you need.

        The thinkpad yogas have a trackpoint

          So what? Mine's a Yoga 2 Tablet with Windows, not a Thinkpad. It's also pretty useless and I'm kind of annoyed with myself that I bought it.

        I've never managed to get used to track pads either. I've never owned a thinkpad, but when first using one in 2002 I was mastering the trackpoint within 5 minutes of use. Hey, a trackpoint would even be right at home on the surfacebook with the thing not closing like a normal laptop. The keyboard wouldn't have to be recessed.

        You obviously haven't used an Apple trackpad then. My desktop is a Windows machine and I always thought all trackpads were horrendous too, ended up buying a Macbook as a secondary option last year and it's now my primary computer. The trackpads on them really are one of the most intuitive, easy to use pieces of technology that I have ever come across.

          I've used Apple trackpads plenty, they are no better. In fact, they are worse because they have no middle- or right-click buttons. The gestures might be OK but they don't do things I need. e.g. I never need to scroll around or use pinch-to-zoom in After Effects or 3DS Max but I need to right- and middle-click all the time. (Right-click in 3DS Max brings up a fully customisable contextual menu and middle-click and drag allows you to navigate in viewports.)

          Try this experiment. Move your cursor to one side of your screen, then make a mark on your desk where your mouse is (outside edge). Now move your cursor to the other side of the screen and see how far your mouse has moved. I'll guarantee you it is less than the width of your trackpad. With my mouse on the second finest setting, the one I use 99% of the time, it is only about half the width of mine. Given that, why the hell can't trackpads map 1:1 to your screen, like a Wacom tablet? When I want my cursor in the top-left corner of the screen, I should be able to click on the top left corner of the trackpad, not scroll from the bottom-right corner two or three times to get it there. When trackpads can do that, I'll be all over them. In the meantime, I'll continue to find them completely useless (because they are).

            You're calling other people luddites while completely failing to understand that their uses are very different to yours (something I notice a lot with "tech" guys). I do audio work, so my monitor is an ultrawide 21:9 and my mouse sensitivity is set low for detailed waveform work, so no, my cursor will not get the whole way across even in one complete swipe of my mouse pad. If I had my mouse set for gaming and used my old system/monitor it would have been a different story obviously. Different settings for different needs. My trackpad also easily goes from one corner of my laptop screen to the other, not sure if I have it a lot more sensitive than other people or not, but it's certainly not something that has ever bothered me. Maybe try using acceleration if it's that much of an issue? Though I hate that myself and would hazard a guess that it's perhaps not great for graphics work either. For myself, and 99% of other people though, an Apple trackpad is bloody fantastic for everyday computer use. Double tap for right click, it's easy. I do miss middle mouse for opening new tabs sometimes though, about the only thing you mentioned that I think would be relevant for most people.

              "Different settings for different needs." Indeed, so why don't you have a mouse that gives you that? When I was talking about settings, I was talking about a button behind the scroll-wheel that allows me to choose four different resolutions on the fly. Yes, on the finest setting it takes about two trackpad widths to cross the screen but I only use that setting when I am doing fine work. (Interestingly, I don't think I have ever used it while doing fine audio work because it's easy to zoom in to the point you can see individual samples in applications like Audition and SoundForge and my sequencer also has similarly huge zoom ranges.)

        you clearly do not know how to use a track pad...

        stop trying to pass your inept ability off as other people stupidity.

          Why would you say that? If it is indeed possible, can you tell me how to get it to move the cursor to a specific location without swiping on the trackpad?

          Still waiting for some divine guidance here, fella.

      Yes, this is one area Apple always seems to excel at, starting from when you could do two finger scrolling on early 2000 Macs. Now they've added force touch.
      Ironically the trackpad sucked when using bootcamp, so perhaps it's driver issues.

        I use trackpad++ in bootcamp and the trackpad works flawlessly in windows as well.

      Microsoft has stated that it's a firmware issue and will be resolved quickly. They really talked up the keyboard and trackpad at the launch event so I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt until then.

        Yeah I'll play the wait and see on this one but as I've always been disappointed with Windows and trackpad combos I'm a bit more the other way. It's shit till proven otherwise if histories anything to go by.

      A USB mouse is easy to carry around and better than any trackpad

        I hear what you're saying and if I'm sitting at a desk and a mouse is convenient I'm generally on my win 10 desktop. I generally use my macbook on the couch and using a mouse is a PITA. Have you had much experience with MB trackpads? Just curious as anyone I know that has used them for any period of time loves the gestures etc, and in some respects its actually each for multitasking than a mouse, and much closer to where you are typing.

          I have had 2 MacBooks in the past and I agree about the trackpads. Windows 10 is better though, it has the trackpad gestures, it just needs the trackpad hardware to go with it.

          Yeah at my last job I used a macbook, you know you've over-complicated something when people have to google how to right click!

          I don't use a laptop on the couch often enough for it to be an issue for me.

            You just tap with 2 fingers, not sure how complicated it is, but I guess if you'd never heard of it before you wouldn't know, but then if you'd never heard of what a right click does there would be a learning curve there too so not sure how valid an argument that is. Not like you have to google it every time, once you learn all the gestures you're good to go.

            @dazzler
            No - what you're saying is the the way *windows* does context menu behaviour is "correct" and expected. Different is not wrong. You're simply demonstrating that you are more familiar with windows.

            Last edited 23/10/15 5:15 pm

              We're talking about hardware functions, nothing to do with Windows vs OSX.

              If you plug a mouse into a Mac, it functions just as a mouse plugged into a Surface Book would.

                With all due respect, you are talking about the software. On Mac OSX, two finger press anywhere on the trackpad is the same as a right-click in windows.

                So your suggestion to google how to bring up a context menu is because you think in terms of right-click (windows) rather than two finger click (mac). Neither is wrong, just different.

                @ Dazzler below (can't reply for some reason)

                Wrong, the behaviour in bootcamp is purely due to the driver - all hardware behaviour is a function of the software driver. In fact, in bootcamp you can make the right click bind to the trackpad lower right, just like a windows laptop (I do this myself).

                And you mean, plugging a *windows* mouse results in that behaviour. Apple mice do not have a right button (although you can also configure the RHS as right click).

                Last edited 26/10/15 7:17 pm

                  Well actually the macbook I used was bootcamped with windows, and a 2 finger click brings up the context menu in windows too.

                  Therefore it's a hardware feature.

                  And *right click* is not exclusive to windows for context menus, if you plug a mouse into a mac then you *right click* to get the menus.

          I just use my mouse on the palm rest, next to the trackpad. It works way, way better because it has three buttons and a scroll-wheel. It works so well because you don't need an area nearly as big as a trackpad to use your mouse. It's a bit cramped on a smaller laptop but on my 15" M3800 it is nothing short of brilliant (but the soft rubberish coating on the palm rest probably contributes to that).

      I prefer trackballs myself but I read in another review that the dicky trackpad is a known firmware issue and the reviewers tested pre-production models.

    What the...????? Giz US is loving Microsoft Products??? Hell has frozen over

      Don't worry, check out the Surface Pro 4 review for some 'normality'.

    It's impossible to take anything seriously after reading this bullshit - "Microsoft just pushed out Windows 10, a vastly improved OS... It’s a spectacular OS". I'm sorry but I fail to see how you "vastly improve" an OS by removing features. Everything in W10 was there in W8, all they did was give it the mildest visual overhaul and take out anything that made Windows useful with touch. You can say it's more focused but there is just no way you can see it as improved at all. It's just the same sleight of hand that got everyone back on side with W7 after Vista, even though both OS were about 99% the same. It beggars belief that people are so easily fooled/manipulated.

      Well the ability to have the same OS across multiple form factors makes it a vastly improved OS IMO.

        Maybe if that was true but it's not. W10, for example, is all but completely unusable on my 10" tablet, whereas Win8 is very usable on my 8" tablet. When I can run Photoshop on my phone, they'll be the same OS but, for now, Windows 10 Mobile is Windows RT.

        Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of improvements in Windows 10 and a big part of the reason I have pre-ordered a Surface Book is because I think the W10 tablet experience will be at least bearable on a 13.5" tablet, but I still think that, overall, Windows 10 is a step back from the futuristic vision of Windows 8.

        I'm sure we will one day get back to where Win8 is/was but obviously the great, unwashed masses weren't ready to take such a big step forward so Microsoft have had to dial it back so they can keep up. Unfortunately, it seems to be something Microsoft have to do a lot.

          What a load of garbage. Win 8 was a mess and almost universally panned - accept and get over it. Windows 10 is better in every way.

          Despite what you say, in the future windows 8 will be remembered with its fail cousins like Win Me and Win Vista.

          Last edited 25/10/15 6:53 pm

            Win 8 was a mess and almost universally panned - accept and get over it. Windows 10 is better in every way.

            By the media sure, and it seems you didn't like it either. BUT there are plenty of people who did and although I like Windows 10 there are still things I miss from Windows 8.

            This part is subjective: It's often the people that dislike something that make the most noise about it which makes it hard to get a 'gut feel' of general sentiment. From personal experience I would say most of the people I have spoken to who dislike Windows 8 didn't give it a chance, they don't miss things from Windows 8 because they never tried to use them.

              Windows 10 can be run in full screen start menu mode, non-full screen start menu mode (default on desktops) or tablet mode.

              So it can be made to behave in a very similar manner to 8, but without the restriction of being forced to do so. I think the advantages of 10 - such as windowed metro apps - FAR outweighs anything that was removed.

                That's not what I miss, I don't care how it looks I care about the functionality. The argument you are making about Windows 10 is also how I felt about Windows 8 over Windows 7.

                I miss many things from 8.1, some are the common charms for settings, share and DLNA/'play to'. Apps can still use that functionality but it's not in a common place and because it's not pushed as an OS feature so much anymore apps seem to be slow on the uptake. I also miss the swipe forward & back gestures in Modern IE. I miss the 'swipe up' on start screen for a full list of apps, the left hand app drawer feels clumsier to navigate in tablet mode. That's just a few I can think of now.

                I'll re-iterate that I like Windows 10 and I want to keep moving forward, I don't want to go back to 8 or 7 or whatever.

                  Oh, Ok. Fair enough. At least it's a rational considered opinion.

                  I like 7, 8 and 10 - but out of those 8 is easily my least favourite.

                "So it can be made to behave in a very similar manner to 8". Even assuming that is true (and it is not even close to true), what's the difference? There is absolutely zero difference between full-screen and not full-screen because no matter how big or small the Start Menu is, it still takes focus so you can't use anything else while it's on screen.

                Moreover, if that's what you see as the difference between 8 and 10, then you are simply proving my point, because that difference is completely and utterly irrelevant.

                What are the advantages of windowed Metro apps? I am yet to discover any. And how does anything outweigh the fact that you can no longer use Windows on a small screen tablet at all? Seriously, using Windows 10 on a small tablet is exactly like using Windows 7 would be - all the touch targets are the same size as W7 and you have about the same chance of hitting them as you do with W7. What makes Edge more touch-friendly than Chrome or Firefox? At least Windows 8 had a browser you could use without a mouse.

                  Well most of the world thinks 10 is better than 8. You disagree, hey that's fine too. Don't upgrade.

                  I use win 10 start full screen on my HTPC simply because I want everything scaled larger. On my laptops, I use the default non-full screen start. The beauty is that I can choose how it's presented.

                  Windowed apps are better because I don't want my 27" monitor being dedicated to a single app. I like having email open here, music open there, browser somewhere else and not having to make do with only using split screen. It's just not ideal for desktops. And the point is you can still make it full screen if you want, you just aren't forced to use it that way.

                  "Windowed apps are better because I don't want my 27" monitor being dedicated to a single app. I like having email open here, music open there, browser somewhere else and not having to make do with only using split screen. It's just not ideal for desktops." It is absolutely ideal for desktops, way better than a disorganised jumble of windows. On my 29" super-wide monitor I always had email down one edge, music down the other edge and my desktop taking up about 80% in the centre. It was brilliant but you cannot do it in Windows 10 at all because you can only split the screen in Tablet Mode and in Tablet Mode you can't see the desktop (no more WIN+D).

      "Everything in W10 was there in W8"

      Im sorry, but you are just plain ignorant and an idiot.

        Really? So why not dazzle us by listing all the things in W10 that weren't there in W8? Maybe it's because you don't have a leg to stand on? It's like everyone complaining that Windows 8 was too different from Windows 7 when every, single thing from Windows 7 was carried over, mostly completely unchanged.

        OK, the Start Menu and Task Manager were given sorely needed makeovers but it is easy to spend an entire day on the desktop using the exact same workflows you'd have used in Windows 7, Vista, XP or even Windows 95, and not even realise you were in a different version of Windows. Boot to the desktop, put a bunch of application shortcuts there or on your taskbar and off you go. Of course, you will have to install some third party software and change a few default applications if you don't want to see handy Metro apps like Reader, but that's work you have to do on every new install, regardless of which version of Windows you choose.

    Great device - more or less - ridiculous pricing unfortunately.

    I think I will wait until economies of scale drive prices down a bit.

    Take my Kidney..!!

    Also, even the flagship i7 is dualcore. What a pile of garbage.

      OK, then, give us an alternative that stacks up. Believe me, I've looked at quite a few different options and this thing comes out as being pretty much unique. e.g. I could get an XPS 13 for about a grand less than the sBook I have pre-ordered (8Gb RAM, 256Gb SSD) but it wouldn't have discrete graphics, a removable tablet section or 12 hour battery life. Are those things worth a grand to you? They are easily worth that to me. Or maybe we should look at a 13" MacBook Pro with Retina Display (catchy name). Again, a matching configuration will be cheaper, by about $500 in this case, and the MBPro has Iris graphics, which are a better match to the sBook's GeForce card but you'd still have to pay $120 for a Windows license (assuming you wanted to be able to run your software on it) and you still wouldn't have a detachable tablet or touchscreen. Here again, the extra few hundred bucks is easily justified.

        $1,000 over a three year life for a laptop = less than $1 per day. Just the battery life alone makes it worthwhile for me to consider, especially as work will pay for it.....

    "So good I might switch back to Windows" - Good luck convincing even the most on the fence Mac users to switch back to a Windows machine with a crappy trackpad. Until they can compete with Apple's trackpads no one will switch back.

    Last edited 25/10/15 8:05 am

      Or you could just touch the screen on windows...

      I'm one of those Mac users. Stuck by mac despite stagnation over the last few years because of the lack of decent hardware on the other side and the fact that using win8 and earlier just makes me so annoyed.

      Trackpad reviews so far have been good, I use win10 on parallels for some software and cortana makes it smooth enough to use for me not to lose my temper (unlike every windows before) so when the time comes for me to upgrade the Surface Book will be #1 on my list.

    Ok we all get it.

    "Some Other Idiot" seems to be on a vendetta to convince the universe that the surface book is the most reasonably priced, perfect device ever made by humans.

    Sorry, I disagree. Oh no, I've blown his fanboi mind.

      Hardly. I've asked people to give examples or reasons for their position, as I have done, and they have failed. So my completely objective assessment, one that aligns pretty closely to the vast majority of reviews, seems to me to be much closer to reality. But I am open to being proved wrong, you just need to provide facts and logic, not emotional garbage, to make your point and change my mind.

      I've also said that I am not going to commit actual money - at the moment it is just reserved for pick-up in the new Sydney store - until I have tried out the Iris graphics version of the SPro 4, so I am not really that committed to the Surface Book, really. What I am committed to is objectivity.

    At $2949 for the nvidia model, you could buy a i7 laptop with discrete graphics and still have money left over to buy a surface 4 tablet, maybe even 2 tablets if you go for something a bit cheaper.

    If you fly a lot for work and 13" screen is big enough for you at this super-resolution, then yes this is a good buy. As for the rest of us normal people, this will be a niche product. Only a small minority of people will buy it.

    The corporate sector who want a good quality hybrid are already buying Dell XPS 11/13 and Surface 4/Surface Pro 3.

    Very few businesses can justify a machine this powerful, unless it's for a senior executive, considering that there are much cheaper alternatives available.

    If your an IT contractor who travels a lot though, and you can justify it, go for it.

    Last edited 26/10/15 10:39 am

    "You’ll be paying in part for design. Did you ever think you would say that about a Microsoft gadget?"

    Er...yes. Microsoft hardware in general has been amazing. Zune HD, Surface, now Surface book.

    Unless you meant 'Windows PC' rather than 'Microsoft gadget'.

      Yeah. In fact, it goes all the way back to their ergonomic keyboard in the mid/late 90s and the Intellimouse Explorer a few years later. Microsoft's hardware has always been great.

    Why not to buy the cheaper asus ux303 (with same specs dual core I7 and nvidia 940m, same weight and smaller size ) at the half price.

    The i7/16gb ram/ 512 ssd/ Nvidia compination of surface book is very expensive. For the same money you can buy quad core skylake laptops with far superior GPU.
    Dell Xps 15, razer 14,  MSI GS40 PHANTOM and supersmall size the Vaio Canvas z.

    Surface Book is not something special for the power user and a disappointment too in cpu/gpu field.

      1. The screen doesn't detach so I'd have to buy a tablet as well to get the same functionality. Last time I looked, Core i7 tablet were going for a lot more than half the price of a Surface Book.

      2. The display on the UX303 is very poor., Much lower res with one of the worst gamuts around - only 72% of NTSC. NTSC is one of the narrowest gamuts you can find so it likely has only half the gamut of the sBook's display.

      As to the other laptops you mention, they are all laptops. The Razer 14 is actually only $100 cheaper than a Surface Book and it's screen doesn't detach. The GS40 Phantom actually looks pretty good except I have no idea where I would go to have one specced out to my needs and how much that might cost. It's screen also doesn't detach and I doubt it has even half the battery life of the Surface book. XPS 15 is a lot bigger so you are sacrificing portability just to save a few bucks. It's screen also doesn't detach,

      Notice a theme? You are trying to compare old-style laptops with Surface Book which doesn't work. If it didn't have a detachable screen, I wouldn't be interested in it because I already have a really good laptop (Dell M3800) and a couple of tablets. But I can sell them all to fund a single purchase of a device that can be both, which is what makes it worth what Microsoft are asking.

        Well because the metro store sucks so bad, the surface book isn't a tablet. It's a laptop with a detachable keyboard. Enjoy using desktop apps with touch. It sucks. Bazinga!!

    Biggest heap of garbage I have ever purchased. Stay away from the Surface book it is unreliable and full of faults. Battery life is flawed and doesn't last for more than 4 hrs. Constantly locking on start up and can't be opened. You would be doing your self a great disservice if you bought one. I thought it looked great on all the advertising hype and it probably would be if it worked, even getting an electrical vibration into the palms when resting on keyboard body. I purchased for work and reliability is not negotiable when with clients. Total rubbish stay away.

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