What I learned from moving from a MacBook Pro to a Surface Pro 3
Moving from a MacBook Pro to a Surface Pro 3 shows the evolving strengths of both Mac OS X and Windows 10 in work, play and more.
Throughout my school, university and work career, I’ve relied on a Mac to get things done. From my first MacBook in 2007 to my last one in 2015, I’ve found there to be few better options for creative, flexible users who require a jack-of-all-trades. However, it wasn’t until I took a leap of faith, moving from a MacBook Pro to a Surface Pro 3, that I truly appreciated either operating system.
My crisis (said in the manner Jeremy Clarkson would) began when I realized that my beloved 2012 MacBook Pro didn’t have the grunt I needed it to. Rather than upgrade to a newer model, I decided to make a foray into desktop Mac territory and sell my laptop with intent of moving to another side of the fence entirely: a Microsoft Surface Pro 3. Read: Surface Pro 3 scores big for Microsoft in latest results
My decision to embrace the flip side of the coin was largely based upon my work as a journalist; frequently, I found that a MacBook is a fairly un-adaptable product designed for a very specific purpose; one buys a MacBook Air for a portable contender, and a Pro for a powerhouse on the go. Unfortunately, my needs sat somewhere in the middle of that territory; an adaptable tablet hybrid was what I recognized I needed for both on-the-go work and periods of sit-down concentration.
With my more strenuous requirements moved to desktop format, I resolved that moving from a MacBook Pro to a Surface Pro 3 was the right trajectory to move in. At the time, Windows 10 had just been released to the world, and Microsoft’s commitment to both tablet and notebook computing was better than ever. What better way to break in to the experience than through a Microsoft product itself?
“It wasn’t until I took a leap of faith, moving from a MacBook Pro to a Surface Pro 3, that I truly appreciated either operating system.”
I’d used Windows computers sparingly since becoming an avid Mac user, and the last true time I experienced Windows was back in the heady days of XP. In the space of time while using Mac OS X, I’d experimented between running boot camp installations of Windows 7, and later 8, but never truly endeavored to use either platform full time. As the Mac App Store grew, and as Windows 8 introduced new Metro apps, moving from one to the other felt less necessary and more and more needless.
I believe Mac OS X has largely seen one of the most successful, itinerant update strategies around. Each year, the operating system gains great features and Apple’s support for older hardware is undoubtedly impressive. While I’m a proponent of Windows 10, moving from a MacBook Pro to a Surface Pro 3 revealed just how long its taken Microsoft to achieve some form of direction with its flagship product.
Windows 8, I believe, did more damage to Microsoft’s reputation that Vista could have amounted to. While Vista was a vision that had a semblance of direction and fell flat due to numerous issues, Windows 8 was largely sound but failed to achieve lift-off.
With Windows 10, I believe Microsoft’s vision of a unified take on both desktop and mobile computing is not only developing synergy, but is coming to fruition. While Windows 10 has largely been met unfavorably thanks to its botched privacy settings, I didn’t find it difficult at all to come to grips with the Redmond OS after years away from it. I don’t believe Windows 10 – or its mobile counterpart – will be able to rival iOS in terms of pure market-share anytime soon; perhaps not even this decade. However, I believe if the firm holds out under Satya Nadella, the company will be well poised at the beginning of next decade to see a new dominance should app developers choose to attend the party.
“Windows 8, I believe, did more damage to Microsoft’s reputation that Vista could have amounted to.”
Moving from a MacBook Pro to a Surface Pro 3 brings with it surprising hardware revelations, too. Microsoft have a long way to go to capture the well-constructed form of MacBook line laptops, but few companies are creating hybrid designs as effectively as the Redmond firm is. What I believe Microsoft have succeeded in doing, quite quickly, is developing their own unique visual identity. What took the MacBook a period of around 8 years to come to grips with, Microsoft have done with modern technology in the space of months.
Ignoring software, it’s not hard to appreciate the Surface Pro 3 as a pretty – if not handsome – machine. While to some the Surface Pro 3 might suffer as being a product of two very different worlds – being too large for a tablet, and too small for a laptop – I feel with Windows 10 aboard the Surface Pro 3 succeeds in becoming even more usable. Frankly, I think Microsoft have played the ultra-portable game far more gracefully than Apple’s baseline MacBook has – and let’s not forget that the Surface Pen is one of the best styli around. Read: Why Tim Cook was wrong about the Apple Pencil
Where the MacBook is slim and sexy, the Surface Pro 3 is slate and stern. Whereas if one takes a MacBook out the connotation could be work or play, the Surface Pro 3 gives the impression that things are about to get serious.
The biggest takeaway I believe one could take from moving from a MacBook Pro to a Surface Pro 3 is that of ecosystem. Whereas a MacBook is part of a larger universe, a component in a system or – if you like – one device in a chain – the Surface Pro 3 succeeds in being its own solar system in itself. There’s little Microsoft’s hybrid contender isn’t capable of, and to my mind its i7 configuration was built for war.
“Whereas a MacBook is part of a larger universe, a component in a system or – if you like – one device in a chain – the Surface Pro 3 succeeds in being its own solar system in itself.”
Are there issues the Surface Pro 3 has that the MacBook doesn’t? Yes, of course. Overheating (at least on the i5 model) isn’t uncommon. The back panel is easily scratched. And before we get into the lack of Windows 10 apps, let’s not forget that traditional desktop apps can look quite repulsive rendered on its QHD screen.
Despite these shortcomings, and very much still remaining in love with the idea of a MacBook, I believe the Surface Pro 3 (now 4, or the Surface Book) is Microsoft’s boldest vision of the future yet, and sets precedents Apple’s laptop line has yet to reach. Read: Microsoft targets Macbooks in Surface Pro 3 ads (video)
Do you agree? What laptop would be your ideal daily drive? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!
Follow Bryan Smith on Twitter: @bryansmithSA