Meet the newest member of the Surface family.
Along with the new Windows 10 S, Microsoft also introduced the Surface Laptop on Tuesday at its education-focused event in New York City.
The Surface Laptop is Microsoft’s first Surface computer with a traditional clamshell design that’s not a detachable 2-in-1. Until now, Microsoft pushed the Surface Pro 4 (tablet that’s powerful enough to replace a laptop) and the Surface Book (laptop that detaches into a powerful tablet).
Its design is a departure for Microsoft and kind an affirmation that students don’t really need tablets—they need a rock solid laptop that’s affordable and can take a beating.
Available in four colors, Surface Laptop is lightweight at 2.76 pounds and thin at 14.5mm. It’s got a 13.5-inch PixelSense touchscreen display and the keyboard is covered in an “Alcantara” fabric material Microsoft’s used on Surface Pro 4 keyboards before. The backlit keys have a 1.5mm travel and never feel cold when you type on them says Microsoft’s Panos Panay.
The Surface Laptop comes with the latest seventh-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, up to 1TB of PCIe SSD storage, and up to 14.5 hours of battery life. Panay says it’s 50 percent faster than the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro and lasts longer, too (MacBook Air only gets up to 13 hours of battery life and MacBook Pro up to to 10 hours).
As for ports, it’s got a single USB 3.0 port, Mini DisplayPort, and headphone jack on the left side, as well as a lone SD card slot on the right side. See that Apple? Even Microsoft’s low-cost Surface Laptop has an SD card slot. There’s no excuse the MacBook Pro doesn’t.
The Surface Laptop starts at $999 and launches on June 15. Pre-orders are available immediately.
Microsoft is tired of getting beat in the education market, so it’s pulling out the big guns: A custom version of Windows 10 streamlined for students.
And they call it Windows 10 S.
If you can leave aside the nagging question of why Microsoft didn’t go for “Windows 10 E,” this new operating system flavor makes a lot of sense.
Over the last half decade Microsoft (and Apple) have watched as sub-$300 Chromebooks running Chrome OS and cloud-connected to Google Docs have swallowed up more than 50 percent of the education market.
Microsoft, which makes the most popular desktop OS in the world, Windows, has had no answer for it. It only recently started building its own PCs — which tend to be on the premium side of pricing — and Windows is, well, Windows, a $120 product that relies on sometimes expensive, large third-party applications that you download and install. It has a good cloud game in One Drive, but there hasn’t really been a marriage between platform, price and cloud accessibility.
Windows 10 S is at least part of Microsoft’s answer.
Unveiled on Tuesday in New York City during Microsoft’s education-market-focused event, Windows 10 S is still very much Windows (and not a cloud-based service as was recently predicted), including the latest Creators Update versions of Cortana and the Edge browser. However it’s also engineered for an audience, like teachers, administrators, and students who don’t have time to worry about application curation, OS updates and system security.
To do all that, Microsoft is narrowing the list of Windows 10 S-approved apps to those Microsoft curates in the Windows Store. This will, obviously, include Office 365, which is also getting an education-focused update, specifically in the Teams for Education group collaboration component.
If a student or educator needs an application that isn’t in the Windows Store, they’ll have to switch their system to Windows 10 Pro — at no extra cost — and then download and install the required app. They won’t be able to switch the system back to Windows 10 S.
Microsoft contends that not only will Store-only apps simplify management of these systems, the managed app list could improve system performance, as well. Web-downloaded apps launch processes during install and subsequent boot-up that often don’t ever turn off. These services can also be duplicative, further slowing down the system, and even consuming battery life.
Windows 10 S’ managed set of apps will not, according to Microsoft, launch those services. This might also be a way of improving performance on affordable systems that may not have the most powerful components or longest battery life.
In order to make the systems a little more cloud-friendly, Windows 10 S will default to saving all documents in the cloud. You can do this in standard Windows 10, but it’s not the default.
Windows 10 S will also help promote coding for kids through a new Minecraft programming component that will let them manipulate their favorite world-building environment.
This move by Microsoft isn’t particularly surprising. When I spoke to Microsoft Corporate VP in Microsoft’s Operating Systems Group Joe Belfiore , he made it clear that Microsoft would not be ceding the education market and they wouldn’t approach it with thin clients and cloud-based apps.
This latest flavor of Windows will arrive inside new, low-cost laptops from Microsoft Partners and Microsoft itself in time for the back to school buying season. Microsoft hasn’t specified standalone pricing since it expects Windows 10 S will ship with low-cost systems.
This story is developing…
Aggressive, sharp-cornered gaming laptops are back in style.
While most PC makers have been content with chasing Apple with sleek laptops that sport unibody builds, soft corners, and minimalist designs, PC maker Acer is going in the opposite direction.
The sixth largest PC maker in the world is still selling traditional laptops like the Swift 1 and Swift 3 with more subdued designs, but it’s making a bigger push with its Predator-branded gaming laptops.
At its annual global press conference Thursday, Acer global CEO Jason Chen said the company’s Predator 21 X behemoth — a laptop with a 21-inch curved screen, mechanical keyboard, eye-tracking sensors, dual Nvidia GTX 1080 GPUs, and more — has been the most talked-about laptop in the last sixth months, despite its unconventional design.
That’s not surprising. The Predator 21 X is seriously bonkers, and the fact that it starts at $9,000 and comes in a massive Pelican case only makes it more so.
But not everyone can afford the $9K Predator 21 X. Nor does everyone need a machine that might as well be called Laptop Overkill.
Acer’s new Predator Triton 700 is a more affordable option that borrows much of the Predator 21 X’s zaniness, without taking things too overboard.
Let’s start with the design. It’s cut out of aluminum, and it measures 0.75 inches thick — just a hair thicker than the 14-inch Razer Blade. It might not be as thin as the new MacBook Pros (0.61 inch), but it’s thin by gaming-laptop standards. Its 5.7-pound weight is also a little on the heavy side if you’re used to sub-3-pound Ultrabooks, but this ain’t no laptop for weaklings.
The 15.6-inch full HD resolution IPS matte screen is lovely and supports Nvidia G-Sync for connecting to an external gaming monitor.
I can confirm the mechanical keyboard is very clicky and satisfying; gamers definitely love the keyboard, despite its island-style keys. Plus, the cool ice-blue backlighting system is just hot.
The strangest thing about the Triton 700 is the location of its trackpad: above the keyboard. And because it’s covered with Gorilla Glass, you can’t actually click on the trackpad. It’s a very odd thing to not have a place to rest your palms on a gaming laptop, and the weirdly integrated trackpad, while a good conversation starter, might not be very practical for any gaming.
As for performance, the Triton 700 has plenty of it. It’s powered by the latest seventh-gen Intel Core processors, Nvidia GeForce 10-Series graphics, two NVMe PCIe SSDs, and up to 32GB of DDR4 2,400MHz RAM. To boost performance and keep the machine from frying itself, Acer’s incorporated its AeroBlade 3D fan.
The gaming laptop’s also tricked out with all the ports you’d ever need, unlike other laptops. You get two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, one HDMI 2.0 port, one DisplayPort, one Gigabit Ethernet port, and “Killer DoubleShot Pro” networking which intelligently prioritizes the fastest connection (either Wi-Fi or Ethernet) and sends all traffic over the fastest option.
A good gaming laptop leaves a lasting first impression and the Triton 700 absolutely does in every way, from design to performance. It’s beautiful a very different kind of way. If a MacBook Pro is a Porsche, then the Triton 700 is a Lambo. Its gamer looks won’t be for everyone, but that’s OK because Acer doesn’t care about winning casual coffee shop hipsters.
Best of all, the Triton 700 costs a fraction of the Predator 21 X: It starts at $2,999 when it comes out in North America in August.
WATCH: Ultimate hands-free gaming with Tobii eye-tracking laptop
Over the past couple of years, Microsoft has made a real name for itself in the high end. The Surface Pro and Surface Book are powerful-yet-portable PCs that have found real momentum in the market. And last fall the company made a convincing play for creators with its impressive—and expensive—Surface Studio all-in-one PC.
Now Microsoft appears to aiming at the other end of the market. It’s rumored that the company will be debuting a new kind of PC at its education-focused event on May 2: an inexpensive computer designed to primarily run apps from the cloud, a device that will finally directly respond the rapid rise of Chromebooks.
It’s called a CloudBook, according to reports, and it’ll run a new variant of Windows 10 called Windows Cloud. The main thing separating Windows Cloud from regular Windows? Machines running it will only be able to run apps downloaded from the Windows Store.
If this is starting to sound familiar, you’re not crazy. That restriction is very similar to what separated the old Surface tablets, the Surface RT and Surface 2, from regular Windows machines. But that was because they ran Windows RT, the now-defunct version of Windows designed for ARM-based devices (as opposed to Intel/AMD x86 machines). Today, Windows RT is long dead, and older, Win32-based apps are even available in the Windows Store.
All that said, two qualifiers: Although Windows RT is gone, Windows 10 can still run on ARM devices—all Windows mobile phones have ARM chips and run it. So, theoretically, Microsoft could debut a Windows PC with an ARM chip whenever it wants. And that brings us to the second qualifier: Even though the Windows Store now offers some Win32 apps, that doesn’t necessarily mean the CouldBook will run them.
At least one report says it will run Win32 apps, though, so a more likely scenario is this: The CloudBook will indeed have an Intel chip, but Windows Cloud will have a setting where you can restrict apps to Windows Store only, which will be the default. After all, if the whole idea is to take on Chromebooks, the OS will need to offer robust management tools.
interesting, a collection in WinStore for “students and scholars”, id is “cloudbook” ms-windows-store://collection/?collectionid=cloudbook pic.twitter.com/JE2th3T1yh
— WalkingCat (@h0x0d) April 13, 2017
A build of Windows Cloud appears to have leaked out back in February, and those who tried it out say it’s essentially Windows 10 with some modified settings and warnings to steer the user toward lighter, cloud-based apps. That should be a relief to users, though it may not bode well for cost. If these machines need a full, or close to full Windows license, they might end up being a notch more expensive than Chromebooks, which start at about $200.
Windows once tried going down the route of cheap machines barely worthy of the label “PC,” and the world rejected the result: the netbook. Times have changed, though: The cloud is now king, and Chromebooks have proven the viability of the model, which will go a long way toward convincing OEMs to get on board. In 2017, it should be possible to create a cheap Windows machine that performs well at a few cloud-based tasks (browsing, email and Office apps, mainly).
The main challenge Microsoft will have with such a machine would be managing expectations. People tend to expect a certain amount of versatility from any PC under the Windows umbrella. Even if Windows Cloud and the CloudBook give Chromebooks a run for their money, it could face an even tougher comparison: Windows 10 itself.