back to article Microsoft Surface Pro X: Windows on Arm usable at long last – but, boy, are you gonna pay for it

The Register dropped into Microsoft's flagship London store to rake a talon over the company's latest Surface gizmos and cop an eyeful of hardware head honcho Panos Panay fondling the Neo and Duo. Panay spent much of the time poking his handy Duo prototype while his Surface hardware colleagues slathered praise on the platform …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    £1,700 for a Surface Pro X

    Can get a Windows 10 dedicated gaming laptop for that price and also play games on top of the usual business activities.

    Who, in Marketing, thinks that £1,700 is an appropriate selling price, without looking at competition and the market?

    1. Paradroid

      Re: £1,700 for a Surface Pro X

      Not sure on the comparison to a gaming laptop - that's the complete opposite of what the Surface Pro X is. A gaming laptop prioritises CPU and GPU power at the expense of portability and battery life.

      I do agree though that this Surface Pro X is a tough sell. It's usually a good idea to buy based on what a device does now, not what it could be the future. While ARM might be the future for portable devices like this, there's a big premium for very little upside, especially with the software situation. I'd go Surface Pro 7 or if portability was absolutely critical, an iPad Pro.

      1. Daleos

        Re: £1,700 for a Surface Pro X

        Yeah. ARM maybe is the future but as a SP3 owner, the SPX has too many minuses to make up for it's pluses. My SP3 (bought in 2104) is still going strong (the battery is still 93%) of the original so I've got a bit of use left in it yet so I'm probably looking at next year before I upgrade. When I do I'll be needing full application compatibility. It's very likely I'll stick with a 2in1 and therefore probably another Surface Pro. Whether it's the SP8 or the SPXv2 who knows. However, no chance I'll be paying £1700 for either.

        What would interest me is a Go sized SPX though.

        1. OssianScotland Silver badge

          Bought in 2104

          Does it come with a De Lorean? That may help explain the price

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: £1,700 for a Surface Pro X

      how does it compare to a CHROMEBOOK ? Especially one in which the OS was swapped out for Linux?

      *crickets*

      I figure if I want an ARM-based slab/laptop that's not an android I could get a Chromebook and then install Devuan on it. Pretty sure it would work, from what i've heard...

      But $1700 (or GBP, whichever) for THAT? Yeah I noted the tone of the article to be a bit "disappointed" as well.

      And if Apple costs the same, I expect people to buy Apple products instead, being that only Apple fans seem to have the money for that kind of hardware (and are willing to spend it).

      1. Col_Panek

        Re: £1,700 for a Surface Pro X

        MS is now in Monkey See, Monkey Do mode, trying to follow Apple and Google. So, overprice your stuff like Apple, might work as a strategy.

        I'm writing on a Chromebook running GalliumOS.... no Windows has ever contaminated it.

    3. Maximum Delfango

      Re: £1,700 for a Surface Pro X

      There's a certain sort of person who would buy this at £1,700 but would refuse to buy it at £750, which is probably what it's worth. I shamefully confess I am a bit like that, but at least I have Apple products and Swiss watches to soak up my spare salary. This approach hasn't helped me become any more popular by the way, in case you were wondering.

  2. Tilda Rice

    Clearly El Reg didn't use an 850 powered ARM Windows PC (they been fast enough already, long before the 8cX chip in this Surface X). I am using that in a Yoga C630, and its more than fast enough.

    The insance 15+ hours battery life, means I can go to an all day waffle fest, and never worry about plugging into the mains

    (the main issue being the horrible fat UK 13 amp plug, even if you can get a slim charger)

    The biggest issue is software. (and I am resisting moving out of S mode, and keeping the device "Pure" without emulation)

    * No Edge / Chromium dev to use (although MS are working on this)

    * No visual studio code, god forbid even proper Visual Studio

    The Yoga screen also wasn't high enough (Full HD) but these days of 4k and iPad retinas it just isn't high enough.

    The Surface Pro X is my dream device (although it is mighty expensive)

    If other Windows OEMs can make this for around 1000 pound mark with keyboard/pen all bundled, MS can get those apps out, and battery life is still 15+ hours - then they can "TAKE MY MONEY" :)

    Anyone still ragging on ARM Windows in 2019 hasn't used one of the up to date devices, they really are fast enough, battery life is wonderful.

    Just need those ARM Apps!!!

    1. DrBed

      Just needs Apps :D

      Or: "It is beautiful, just it does not working."

      If you leave "S" mode (that is for "Stupid, no Software here"), suddenly it will become sluggish (and unpleasantly hot... and forget about 15h of autonomy).

      But you forgot the main feature: it will warm your fingers at cold winters... just beware of overburning ;)

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      >Just need those ARM Apps!!!

      Given past performance of MS with non-Intel platforms, I will pass on this and look again in 3+ years time.

      I get the distinct impression that MS, having declared Win10 to be the last edition of Windows, is struggling to decide what to replace it with, so would not be surprised if in 3 years, MS effectively go all out Linux and Android - with a MS Windows verner...

    3. quxinot Silver badge

      "Clearly El Reg didn't use an 850 powered ARM Windows PC (they been fast enough already, long before the 8cX chip in this Surface X). I am using that in a Yoga C630, and its more than fast enough."

      "The biggest issue is software."

      To be fair, a 286 from the mid 80's was fast enough for the overwhelming majority of things I use a computer for. With today's software bloat and inefficiency, it'd be a doorstop at best.

      The software is, has been, and probably will always be, the issue.

  3. revilo

    looks nice

    why do people have expensive cars, expensive watches, cloths or expensive art? It can not be explained rationally. From all these status symbols, I can understand most to spend a lot for a piece of computing hardware, especially if it is used everyday. Spending a substantial part of your life with something to do work then yes, it can be justified. As an apple user myself, I must say that this piece of hardware looks nice. It might in the long term lead to laptops which need much less power and last longer.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: looks nice

      "why do people have expensive cars, expensive watches, cloths or expensive art?"

      Because they *WANT* to ???

      Freedom. It's a *GOOD* thing. "MYOB" is a good thing too. also NOT judging. etc.

      I noticed YOU said you use Apple. You should understand better, like people who buy BMW's or products labeled "Organic" - paying twice or more for the same products that aren't "those", but why? I say it's because you WANT them, and that's good enough for me.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    neo duo

    wtf...

  5. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Another sign that Microsoft are looking at the Apple model, and thinking they can price their laptops at the same prices.

    The problem is that Apple is considered a luxury brand, and therefore people are willing to pay a premium, Microsoft isn't a luxury brand though so its just seems overpriced. Especially charging £400 extra for doubling the RAM from 8 to 16GB.

    1. disco_stu

      £200or so for an extra 128GB of SSD storage does feel as if they are going in dry..

    2. Mark 110

      Apple have spent alot of money on marketing and corners to develop a perception of luxury. Good products, nice corners, big marketing spend.

      Microsoft are targeting differently. Not sure quite what. It feels like they are trying to make better tech but without the confidence to become a fmcg manufacturer like apple.

      Ms are a software company after all whereas apple have made all their money from hardware.

      1. Kristian Walsh

        Purpose of Surface...

        Really, the most rational explanation for Surface is the one Microsoft has given: they produce high-end hardware running Windows in order to shame OEMs into addressing the upper end of the market. This is the same approach Google has used for a decade to prevent Android becoming an OS for cheap phones only - from the beginning, Google invested in flagship devices to show how its OS could be used, and raise the quality ceiling for Android devices.

        Before the Surface line, there were very, very, few Windows laptops that had the appeal of Apple's MacBook line. The OEMs competed mainly for the corporate fleet market and the bargain-basement Yes, you could certainly get high-spec models, but they were either aimed at gamers (no battery life, plus styling that's questionable when you're on the death side of 30), or corporate IT managers (every possible port, built like a tank, but as heavy as a tank too).

        That left Apple pretty much unchallenged in selling to the wealthy personal buyer (and the shallow nontrepreneurs wasting their VC's money too, of course). Post-Surface, every manufacturer has realised that if you make a Windows laptop with good materials and don't load it down with crappy OEM software, there's actually money to be made, and so they're addressing that market too.

        Microsoft makes money on Surface, which isn't bad for something that's basically a promotional tool for Windows PCs.

  6. SVV Silver badge

    the device starts at £999 for the 8GB version

    Who would be stupid enough to buy a device with only 8GB of storage in 2019? And an extra £450 to get the almost unimaginably premium high end luxury amount of 16GB......... That is £56 per gigabyte for commodity flash memory.

    1. commonsense

      Re: the device starts at £999 for the 8GB version

      It's not storage, it's RAM. Though £56 per Gb is still ridiculous money.

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: the device starts at £999 for the 8GB version

      MS are simply copying the Apple pricing model.

      But TBH, they are taking the piss.

      How many months will these devices be supported?

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: the device starts at £999 for the 8GB version

      "Who would be stupid enough to buy a device with only 8GB of storage in 2019"

      I believe that was RAM. And I'm able to get MY work done quite effectively with machines having <= 8Gb RAM on them... because operating systems like Linux [unless you're doing Android development] and FreeBSD do *NOT* require "Hog Slopping" amounts of RAM just to LOAD (let alone DO anything).

      Certain Web browsers, on the other hand... [using 'noscript' helps with that]

      a few years ago I picked up a reconditioned Lenovo for cheap with 4G and *WINDOWS 7* on it. It's my accounting and music production machine, 3Ghz dual core with a spinny drive. Does the job quite well, probably for the next 10 years. Occasional windows development, too [recently did P.O.C. for client].

      1. Kristian Walsh

        Re: the device starts at £999 for the 8GB version

        It's Docker, not Windows (or MacOS), that uses up most of the RAM on my systems. Windows 10 is pretty good at keeping its memory use down - certainly no worse than MacOS or Linux when running just the file-manager shell (Finder/Explorer/I'm-not-getting-into-the-Linux-GUI-flame-wars-thanks).

        Chrome, meanwhile... I entirely agree.

        I'd replace that spinning disk with an SSD on the Lenovo, though: it makes such a huge difference for launch and load times, especially if you're doing music work, and SATA SSDs are really cheap now that everyone wants NVMe.

    4. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: the device starts at £999 for the 8GB version

      >Who would be stupid enough to buy a device with only 8GB of storage in 2019?

      Someone who believes the hype about 5G/mobile internet and always connected devices...

      One of the things that really p*sses me off is just how many Android (phone) app's handle slow or lack of connectivity really really badly. I suppose part of my problem is that I was writing software that gracefully handled loss of comm's back in the early 1980's; it not difficult, just requires a little thought - which clearly the majority of app developers are incapable of...

  7. commonsense
    Facepalm

    Opportunity missed

    Why couldn't they have made the Surface Pro 7 with the same form factor, keyboard, pen, etc. as the Surface Pro X? That would make the SP7 a worthwhile (cosmetic, at least) upgrade on a fairly stagnant SP line, and also if you happened for some reason to need both an Intel and an Arm device, you could share the same pen, charger, keyboard across both devices.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Opportunity missed

      "hy couldn't they have made the Surface Pro 7 with the same form factor, keyboard, pen, etc. as the Surface Pro X?"

      Marketing. The only thing missing here is Steve Ballmer going around the halls of Redmond saying *BING*

      'X' is '10' and that's like Windows 10 and "everybody knows" 10 is better than 7

      (it probably has more "tiers" in it, too)

  8. DrBed
    Trollface

    £1700+ ?

    For that sum (err instead of), some should buy decent laptop and there will be left for private servant to carry it around.

    It is all about mobility and productivity, after all.

  9. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    Store?

    I have personal bugbear that shops sell things and stores store things and it annoys me when shops are called stores. Yeah, I know, but it takes all sorts.

    In this case, however, I suspect that "Microsoft Store" is going to be more correct than "Microsoft Shop".

  10. Annihilator

    Odd choice

    In a world that's more and more about non-local storage, I'd much rather have the opportunity to uplift the RAM rather than the storage in the mid-term. But I suppose different strokes for different folks...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I put up with the premium prices of the Mac to avoid Windows. Who in their right mind would pay that much of a premium for a Windows machine? You can get decent built laptops running Windows for a lot less than they are asking.

    1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      Who is going to buy it? Idiots with more money than sense, or those that put aesthetic before practicality.

      So... your average hipster.

      1. dajames Silver badge

        Who is going to buy it?

        So... your average hipster.

        Nah ... it hasn't got a glow-in-the-dark apple on the lid. Even hipsters have some self-respect!

    2. Robert Sneddon

      Pen?

      Which Windows laptops are pen-sensitive? The MS Surface designs generally have pen digitisers built-in, most other manufacturers don't provide this functionality. Screen touch, yes but a pen is a different and more expensive option to integrate especially on a super-slim chassis like these recent Surface models.

      It doesn't excuse the high prices, of course but it is a feature some people will gladly pay for. Of course Mac laptop purchasers don't get a touch option never mind an integrated pen system for their money.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Pen?

        If you need a pen interface, get one dedicated to the task. I love my Wacom Cintiq. The design is focused on what somebody using a tablet needs rather than also having to be a general purpose computer. Outside of photo editing, I'm not using a pen tablet. A mouse and keyboard are more natural to me (yeah, I got grey hair).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pen?

        HP Elitebooks. Or the one I use does.

  12. Only me!

    Pro 6 LTE

    I have a Pro 6 LTE, works great. It is an i5 as they replaced the fan with the LTE stuff, ok they only produced it with 8GB RAM for some reason. That said these are designed to be portable, not gaming machines. Works perfectly well for me,

    I just never understood why they did not try and push it more, it seemed a "business" only machine, do they really think that in this day and age that only business people would like LTE in a laptop?

  13. MachDiamond Silver badge

    What's the task?

    Do I get a cutting edge tablet or a full laptop with a proper CPU/GPU/RAM/Storage?

    A tablet is handy if you just want something to check email, do some light web browsing, review documents, etc. All mine does is act as a remote for my camera and control my drone. Everything else that was possible to delete was tossed out first thing. There is no way that it would be able to edit my photos or video. Yes, there are apps for that, but they aren't anywhere near what can be done on a laptop or desktop. Since I am creating content professionally, I have no need to "share" my work on social media which seems to be the primary focus of mobile apps. My clients rather insist that I am not sharing the photos and video that I make for them.

    The proper tool for the job. Blinging up limited use tablet to "compete" with a laptop isn't a great marketing plan.

  14. All names Taken

    Hmm interesting?

    Who wants a computer for Word or Excel any more?

    Any one?

    On the other hand who wants computational blingware or trashware?

    And these seem to be Apple and/or google/Amazon owned arenas.

    Soooo .. what is left for the big MS to do?

    Maybe this foray into Windows on ARM is just MS way of saying "Your providers of hardware/software are our customers now" and get out of the end user market altogether.

    Just wondering thats all

    1. David Roberts

      Re: Hmm interesting? Word and Excel?

      I don't use them, but i do use Libre Office.

      So the computing requirement is much the same.

      Much of the business world still uses documents and spreadsheets.

      Also (often W7) computers.

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