Microsoft’s answer to the MacBook suffers one big flaw

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Surface Laptop
Will it run your favorite apps?
Photo: Microsoft

Microsoft’s new Surface Laptop, with its sleek design and a super-sharp display, might look like a worthy competitor to the MacBook. But there’s one big flaw holding it back.


Unveiled today, the Windows 10 S-powered laptop might not be quite as pretty as an Apple notebook. But the Surface Laptop is still a good-looking machine. It sports a traditional laptop design — you won’t be pulling the touchscreen off this one — with a keyboard covered in soft Alcantara fabric like the Surface Pro 4’s premium Type Cover.

You won’t find any holes or speaker grilles in the Surface Laptop’s casing. Microsoft integrated “vapor chambers” into the notebook’s chassis to keep it cool. Its speakers sit beneath the keyboard, so sound comes up through the base of the machine.

The Surface Laptop’s 13.5-inch PixelSense display boasts 3.4 million pixels, and it’s packed into a cool aluminum casing that extends across the bottom of the machine. Microsoft says its new display is the “thinnest LCD touch model ever created and put into a laptop.”

Starting at $999, the Surface Laptop ships with an Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a battery that lasts up to 14.5 hours in between charges. If you have more to spend, you’ll be able to upgrade to a Core i7 processor and add more RAM and storage.

Windows 10 S is the Surface Laptop’s Achilles’ heel

What makes the Surface Laptop unlike the rest of the Surface lineup is its Windows 10 S operating system. It’s Microsoft answer to Google’s Chrome OS, and it has been designed to run smoothly on low-end hardware.

Although the Surface Laptop is pricey, other Windows 10 S laptops will be available from third-party manufacturers soon for as little as $189. But there’s one thing you should know about Microsoft’s new Windows spinoff.

Windows 10 S only runs apps downloaded from the Windows Store — much like the failed Windows RT operating system that Microsoft abandoned. That means you cannot run software you’ve downloaded from the web and other third-party sources.

If the apps you use aren’t available from Microsoft’s marketplace, then, forget about using them on your Surface Laptop.

If that major limitation doesn’t put you off, you can bag your own Surface Laptop starting June 15 in platinum, burgundy, cobalt blue or graphite gold.

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  • FedUp

    You can upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for free throughout this year

  • Asher Berman

    fyi, you can upgrade to windows 10 pro for $50

  • FultonKBD

    Upgrade the OS for $50… sounds like a Microsoft Tax to me.

    • drachemitch

      Like the lightning port tax having to buy proprietary cables and adapters because Apple.

      • Daniel Plaza Bragado

        buthurt much?

      • Flemming

        Yes you do sound like it – the man is correct – but that is a problem to you?

  • Barry Marshall

    The big flaw is that it won’t macOS Sierra

    • Miguel Bertrand

      hahahaha. So good.

    • ukw

      That’s where you are wrong kiddo.

  • The biggest flaw of all? They run Windows. Nice colors though!

    • ukw

      It’s like saying the biggest flaw of a Macbook is running Mac OS.

  • Ilan

    Define “Big”.

  • Isaiah Collins Abetong

    at least it has a sd card port

  • Demonstr8r

    Fabric covered crumb catcher keyboard, Windows 10 S, can’t install Chrome browser, no USB-C, … no thanks!

  • Ford Prefect

    LOL, M$ will sell about 100 of these and you can find one on Craiglist for $199 in 6 months. Another DOA Surface from M$, LOLOLOLOLOLOL.

  • hi

    way to bury the lede

  • eternal

    You forgot to mention that you can upgrade to Windows 10 Pro if you want – free for the first year, and $49 after that. So, there is no flaw. And it has touch… let’s see when Apple will invent that “innovation” :D

    • ukw

      Why implement touch when you can have a touch bar in place of function keys?!

      • Flemming

        Because its way better – and yes i have the new MBP with touchbar – its a gimmick. I also miss the physical function keys, tacktile and just better. I would like them to innovate something that is not just a gimmick that most do not use anyway.

      • ukw

        I was being sarcastic. OFC touch screen is better, although like you I’m more a a physical type of guy and I hate fingerprints on the screen.

  • ChucklesB

    It’s billed as the Chromebook killer, not the MacBook killer. It already kills MacBooks anyway by having a 13.5″ touch screen instead of a narrow touch-row replacing useful keys. Especially after you upgrade to Win10 Pro for free.

  • Robert Reid

    Yawn

  • Benjamin L

    I’m pretty sure they said any windows S device could be upgraded to Pro for free. Could be wrong, but I thought that’s what they said during the event. So I don’t see how the Windows S OS is that big of a drawback.