Microsoft reveals its Surface Laptop designed for students
Since Microsoft first debuted the Surface brand several years ago, there have been plenty of rumours and lots of speculation about how the firm might expand the brand past the convertible Surface tablet itself. Most of that conjecture has focused on the idea of a "Surface Phone", but now, following some last minute leaks, Microsoft has unveiled the Surface Laptop.
So, the main thing here is that it's not a convertible tablet like the original Surface devices. Another key thing to remember; this is essentially Microsoft's challenger to the Google Chromebook, designed to be a streamlined, more affordable, pick-up-n-go laptop option. As with Chromebooks, they'll be sold to anyone who wants one but a key target demographic is students and other budget-mindful types.
"When we built Windows 10 S," said Microsoft, "we saw an opportunity to not only bring streamlined performance, simplicity, and security to students and teachers in a K-12 environment but to scale to meet the needs of college students and beyond. So today, we're also excited to announce the newest member of our Surface family – Surface Laptop."
It added: "Powered by Windows 10 S, Surface Laptop has up to 14.5 hours of battery life* to take students through their day and is built to give students the same great performance through four years of college and beyond."
Design-wise this will be very familiar to anyone who's ever seen a Surface convertible tablet; it's got that squared-off style with tapered edges, and is a lightweight device to make it as portable as possible. It features a 13.5in PixelSense display with a 3:2 aspect ratio, while the interior panel and keyboard bay are, interestingly, covered in fabric.
There will be various onboard storage options using SSD, up to a maximum of 1TB, while Microsoft boasts the battery will last 14.5 hours on a single charge. Colour options include platinum, cobalt blue, burgundy, and gold.
Then things start getting a bit strange. The laptop runs a newly announced version of Windows 10 built specifically for this series of Chromebook competitors, dubbed Windows 10 S. Windows 10 S may be streamlined for these laptops, but as a result it's a similar story to Google's Chromebook; you'll only be able to install apps from the Windows Store, and it'll use Microsoft's Edge browser by default, and you won't be able to change it. Ever. Same goes for the search engine built-in; it's Bing, like it or not.
However, Microsoft has since confirmed that users will be able to upgrade Windows 10 S PCs to Windows 10 Pro for as little as $49. Even better for Surface Laptop users, the upgrade will be offered for free until December 31 2017, but after that point it will be a $49 upgrade just like other PCs shipping with Windows 10 S.
The other oddity is, as we've said, the Surface Laptop is aimed at students and it's pegged as a budget option, Microsoft's alternative to Chromebooks, remember. Well, the starting price is $999 (£773), which is considerably more expensive than starting Chromebook prices of around $200.
It'll be interesting to see if Microsoft's plans actually work out here. The Surface Laptop will be available from June 15; you can check out Microsoft's marketing page here.
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