Microsoft targets Apple Macbook Pro users with new Surface Book marketing

Laurent Giret

This has been a pretty interesting week for tech enthusiasts out there. On Wednesday, Microsoft held its much anticipated Windows 10 event where it announced the 3D-focused Windows 10 Creators Update, an upcoming portfolio of affordable mixed reality headsets from third-party manufacturers and last but not least, exciting new Surface hardware. Then yesterday, Apple followed with its second fall event where it unveiled new MacBook Pro models while Microsoft’s promotional video for its Surface Studio all-in-one was the #2 trending video on YouTube.

As usual, you may have seen the tech press put the latest gadgets from both companies against each other, which is perfectly understandable and necessary to help consumers make educated choices. Actually, PC and phone manufacturers themselves often compare their own products to Apple’s offering, Microsoft included: over the last few months, Microsoft released several ads that put its own Surface products against MacBooks and iPad Pros, with some them being actually pretty fun.

Additionally, If you go check Microsoft’s website today you will see that both landing pages for the Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book feature a “Compare to Mac” tab with detailed specs comparisons and more. Interestingly, the Surface Book is only compared to the 13-inch MacBook Pro (not the latest model announced yesterday though) while the Surface Pro 4 can be compared with either a 13-inch MacBook Air or an iPad Pro.

Microsoft compares its Surface hybrids against Apple Macbooks on its site.
Microsoft compares its Surface hybrids against Apple’s MacBooks on its site.

Still, if you followed Microsoft’s Windows 10 event on Wednesday you may know that the company did not release a Surface Pro 5 model, only new high-end Surface Book hybrids with a “Performance Base” featuring Intel Core i7 processors, a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M GPU and a bigger battery. On Apple’s side, the brand new MacBook Pros feature a slimmer design, USB-C ports (the headphone jack is still there) and a new dynamic Touch Bar including a Touch ID sensor on the keyboard to replace function keys. A cheaper 13-inch model without the new Touch Bar and less USB ports was also introduced to fill the absence of new MacBook Air models yesterday, but we won’t take it into account in the specs comparison below.

specs comparison
Do both devices really play in the same league?

While we won’t go into a detailed specs analysis, it’s quite interesting to note that both Microsoft and Apple did not include Intel’s 7th gen Kaby Lake processors in their new products. Additionally, Microsoft chose not to include any USB-C ports while Apple went all-in on the new technology, a move which could cause trouble for consumers wanting to avoid the dongle life.

Overall, Microsoft’s Surface Book increasingly seems to target the same consumers buying Apple’s MacBook Pros today: creative professionals looking for a powerful, well-designed machine or tech enthusiasts searching for the ultimate laptop. To convince Apple consumers, the company has even started to offer up to $650 for trading in a MacBook for a Surface in the US.

The Redmond giant may well have a more forward-looking approach with its 2-in-1 devices, and the Surface Book does seem more versatile than its MacBook competitor thanks to its detachable touch screen and better battery life. However, Microsoft doesn’t necessarily need to beat Apple to make its Surface portfolio a sustainable business and a brand that consumers love and trust. In just four years, the Surface team has already achieved a lot of momentum and we saw with the brand new Surface Studio, the company can really thrive as a hardware manufacturer.