Microsoft’s latest Surface is a laptop… cleverly called the Surface Laptop. It’s a thin and light computer with a 13.5 inch PixelSense display, Alcantara fabric covering the palm rest and and keyboard area, and it’s designed to be easy to open the lid with a single finger.

Oh yeah, and it runs Windows 10 S and Microsoft is positioning the Surface Laptop as a computer for students, promising that it will last a college student from day one of orientation to graduation.

While some Windows 10S systems are expected to sell for as little as $189, the Surface Laptop is a premium device: prices start at $999 for a model with a Core i5 Kaby Lake processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of solid state storage.

The Microsoft Surface Laptop goes up for pre-order today, and it should be available starting June 15th.

Microsoft will offer models with up to a Core i7 processor with Intel Iris Plus graphics, up to 16GB of RAM, and up to 1TB of PCIe storage (although I currently only see options for up to 512GB on the Microsoft Store website).

The storage is integrated on the motherboard. That means the storage won’t be upgradeable, but Microsoft says the advantage is that the SSD uses less power, helping ensure long battery life (up to 14.5 hours).

Microsoft says the Surface Laptop has the thinnest touchscreen LCD module on any laptop and it also supports the Surface Pen for writing or drawing. The Surface Dial is also compatible with the laptop. Both accessories are sold separately though, neither comes with the laptop.

The notebook measures about 14.5mm thick, weighs 2.76 pounds, and comes in burgundy, gold, blue, or platinum color options.

The Surface Laptop has a 2,256 x 1504 pixel touchscreen display with Corning Gorilla Glass, and Microsoft will offer models with a Core i5-7200U or unspecified Core i7 processor (although the fact that the Core i7 version has Iris Plus 640 graphics suggests it’ll be a Core i7-6570U chip).

Microsoft says the Core i7 model offers better performance and longer battery life than a MacBook Pro (although it’s best to take that with a grain of salt until the company explains how it measured those things… or we start to see third-party tests).

The notebook features integrated vapor chambers shaped as heat pipes and integrated into the aluminum back panel to help keep the system cool. The keyboard features 1.5mm key travel and backlit keys.

The speakers are integrated into the keyboard, with sound pushed up through the Alcantara fabric, so you won’t see any speaker grilles, but sound should be loud and clear.

A few more specs: the notebook measures 12.13″ x 8.79″ x 0.57″, has an aluminum case, features 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, and has headset, mini DisplayPort, and USB 3.0 ports. There’s an ambient light sensor, stereo microphones, and a 720p HD webcam with support for Windows Hello face sign-in.

Microsoft says Windows 10 S offers speedy performance, quick book and resume times, and tighter security than you’d get from the full version of Windows 10. But users can upgrade to Windows 10 Pro because the hardware should be compatible with it.

All told, if Windows 10 S is Microsoft’s answer to Google’s Chrome OS, the Surface Laptop is the company’s response to the Google Chromebook Pixel. It’s a premium notebook with hardware designed to best show off the hardware. Microsoft is taking a page out of Google’s book and leaving it up to third-party device makers to offer cheaper models for folks that don’t want a premium experience.

The move makes sense when you consider that neither Google nor Microsoft want to really compete with third-party hardware makers, because the companies rely on those partners to sell the bulk of products running Chrome OS, Android, or Windows software.

But in Microsoft’s case, this is a bit of a gamble: the Surface Laptop will be one of the first devices to ship with Windows 10 S, an unproven platform. One sure way to make it more attractive to first-time users would have been to offer an affordable Surface product that comes with the OS. Priced at $999 and up, it’s likely that the Surface Laptop won’t appeal to education customers or folks that aren’t die-hard Windows fans… or perhaps customers who plan to upgrade from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro.

At today’s pres event, Microsoft officials made it clear that you can “switch” to Windows 10 Pro, but didn’t touch on one key thing: how much you’ll have to pay to do that.

Update: The upgrade is free for all Surface Laptop users if they switch to Windows 10 Pro before the end of the year. After that, an upgrade will cost $50. Customers also get a free 1-year subscription to Office 365.

Another thing to keep in mind? While prices start at $999, the can climb as high as $2199 if you want a model with a Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, and Intel Iris Plus 640 graphics.

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17 replies on “Microsoft Surface Laptop is a $999 Windows 10 S notebook aimed at students”

  1. Microsoft clearly is attempting to pull some type of Apple move here…as in charging way too much for what you’re getting. I’m hoping it’s sinking in for the rest of you. Microsoft is the new Apple “and” you’re going behind a walled garden to protect their monopoly. I look forward to watching this play out because I think it will hasten their demise all the faster.

    1. I agree. People might assume that hardware and software coming from the same company will magically have synergy. Personally, I am hoping that Superbook and others will demonstrate that phones and a cpu/os free laptop can be very productive in education.

  2. They had better fix the battery life that has plagued the Surface Pro 4. I can’t stand its poor battery. Part of it is that my IT admin has locked down the power profiles that I can’t access, but even then the overall batter is poor

  3. I hate the whole has an i7 thing. And faster than the MacBook pro is very subjective. Is it faster than the quad core models, or does it just have faster single thread?

  4. Yeah, this really makes very little sense, Google’s Chromebook Pixel was in response to everyone thinking Chromebooks were all cheap and low-powered systems that weren’t real computers. This one is an expensive halo device running an intentionally crippled software package, and no upgradability to boot. At least with a Pixel we could swap out the SSD’s if we wanted. These might be nice for someone on a Microsoft Store fire sale in a year to a year and a half. Maybe.

  5. Meanwhile, you could buy a gaming laptop with nvidia 1050ti, i7 7700hq, 16 gb ram and 256gb ssd for the same price but with a real windows.

        1. Sure, that’s much better hardware-wise, but to be fair, it weighs more than twice as much, and is about 3X thicker, and I doubt you’ll see 14hrs of battery… if these Surfaces are intended for students to carry around all day in their backpacks, those are problematic.

          1. I know that this is supposed to be an ultra light, long battery life laptop. My concern is with the price tag for the minimum specs being too expensive especially that it’s a walled garden version of Windows.

  6. It’s a nice laptop but I’m not sure why anyone would choose this over a Surface Pro, Surface Book, or many options from other manufacturers. $999 is quite expensive relative to what you’re getting.

    1. People said the same about the Chrome OS Pixel, but buyers were quite happy with what they got. Of course, this is just one option, perhaps a flagship of sorts for the whole line of Windows 10 S systems, like the Pixel was for Chrome OS devices.

      1. The only difference however is huge, the Pixel was not a mainstream device and never was any sort of reference in the Chromebook world due to its high price (despite the superior hardware).

  7. Love the look, but I’m sure that these are going to be expensive. I’m surprised that Microsoft is pairing Windows 10S with such premium hardware given how Windows RT failed. I’d have thought that they’d be going all plastic at least until demand built up. Also, why go with such premium hardware? One of Chrome OS’ bigger selling points is that it’s light on system resources (allowing manufacturers to go cheap and keep cost down). An i5 or i7 seems like overkill.

    1. I think Microsoft is trying to show that Windows10 S systems aren’t necessarily cheap systems. I just don’t see people paying that much for a computer running Windows “lite”. I expect Windows10 S to be a race to the bottom (in price) to compete with Chromebooks. This can only end horribly. With such price pressure the user experience is bound to be abominable. Microsoft is touting these systems ability to be upgraded to full Windows10 but performance will most likely become mind numbingly slow on the low end of the spectrum which will most likely be the vast majority of the units. Face it, if customers are willing to pay any more, they will buy computers that can handle full Windows 10. It took Google years to crack the education market when they didn’t have major competition. How will Microsoft fare with Google already entrenched?

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