Surface Book 2: Microsoft, You’re Naming It Wrong

Posted on October 17, 2017 by Brad Sams in Hardware with 26 Comments

Today, Microsoft pulled back the curtains on its second generation Surface Book. The device improves upon the original Surface Book in nearly every way but the company has screwed up the branding of this product.

While this is technically the third edition of the Surface Book, you could argue that the Performance Base iteration of the Surface Book was version 1.5 or possibly 2, there is a bigger marketing problem.

Earlier this year, when Microsoft announced the new Surface Pro, they didn’t call it the Surface Pro 5, simply the Pro without any numerical value. This is a logical move based on other trends in the industry and made it appear that Microsoft was moving to a product lineup that would be denoted by the year they were released instead of an edition number.

But with the Surface Book 2, Microsoft is not remaining consistent with its branding scheme. This device should have been called simply the Surface Book (2017) to match that of the Surface Pro but here we are with the Surface Book 2.

I know that someone will point out that Surface Book 2 is its own product line but as a family, the Surface lineup either needs to commit to a numeric scheme together or abandon it. Either way of branding these devices is fine, with or without a version number, but Microsoft should not be mixing and matching inside the same brand how it numbers devices.

The Surface Book is likely going to be a great machine and the company has done a good job of listening to user feedback but the branding inconsistencies feel out of place for a company that takes a lot of pride in building their own hardware.

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Comments (26)

26 responses to “Surface Book 2: Microsoft, You’re Naming It Wrong”

  1. Jeff.Bane

    Since Surface Book "1" was just Surface Book, perhaps they are trying to differentiate.

    Almost like, "We know you enjoyed Surface Book, now let us introduce.... Surface Book".

    I can see the "2" in this case.

  2. Lyndon

    On windows weekly, Paul was very cynical about detaching the screen, and flipping it around. I totally understand this, but I guess I'm one of the few that actually uses this feature. I don't use it as a tablet often, just because the battery life is short without the base. I like the idea of being able to use it as a tablet, but it would need to have more like 8-10 hours of battery life to make me more likely to use it this way.

  3. PincasX

    Naming isn't the marketing issue that Microsoft has to fix. For whatever reason they insist on comparing these to the MacBook Pro. I get that they want to shy away from comparing it to other windows devices because that would be a total kick in the nuts to a partner but they should just forgo comparisons all together. The implicit message in comparison is that whatever you are comparing yourself too is the thing to beat therefore therefore the message is essentially "The MacBook Pro is the best portable out there and we think we have made something better". This is as much an ad for Apple as it is the Surface Book and MS shooting itself in the foot ...... again.

  4. Curtmcgirt

    You can't abandon the numbering scheme before you are least get to iteration 3. Everybody knows that.

  5. CRoebuck

    Is it me (or perhaps the viewing angles) but the Surface Book 2 base looks more like the performance base than the original SB ? It looks deeper and appears the have the telltale "power bulge" around the keyboard, especially prominent near the function row. Anyone ?

  6. SDreamer

    Definately agree. Think Apple made the mistake with the numbering as well, causing everyone else to follow suit.

  7. dhallman

    I agree with others that the name is needed to put the bad reputation behind them. But this device does not look like part of the Surface family. Sitting beside Surface Pro or Surface Laptop the grey only option and no alcantara - that is the issue to me. I am sure the name will be resolved in a future version if they continue with this form factor., But why are the options for color and material different than other devices in the same family?

  8. skane2600

    Much ado about nothing, IMO.

    • skane2600

      In reply to skane2600:

      I based my comment on my belief that not a single sale will be lost because the number "2" appeared as part of the name. IMO, It's far more likely to increase sales as it suggests an improvement over the previous product. This approach has been used in marketing for at least 50 years. Now if people object on some non-business basis, I have no comment on that.

  9. MutualCore

    Naming doesn't matter. Whatever MS markets it is what people will know it as. Apple's branding lately has been confusing as hell.

  10. benday

    I was really holding out hope for a 32GB RAM option. It looks like an awesome machine...except for that one crucial detail.

    Anyone know if they're going to eventually release a 32GB version?

  11. glenn8878

    I will argue the first version had a mixed reputation and didn’t sell well. They had to offer the “2” to distinguish between a better version and a turkey except the looping hinge is still there. Is it still buggy?

    • Roger Ramjet

      In reply to glenn8878:

      Yep, I came back here to write a similar comment on realizing why they named it this way. Specifically, they already had Surface Pro 2017 out before Consumer Reports. It was only as a fallout of that they have reversed, in order to differentiate these SB2 from the one that has a bad rep.

  12. Hal9000

    The only thing Microsoft is consistent in is its inconsistency

  13. euskalzabe

    Completely agreed! This numbering nonsense needs to stop. Just call it Surface Book. People will just want the "new" one anyway, and those interested in exact specs will know to ask about them.

    • Rob_Wade

      In reply to euskalzabe: I couldn't disagree more. The numbering is needed so we CAN differentiate the models. First, they AREN'T the same. Second, you'll still be able to purchase older models as we go down the road, just like you can still get an SP3 or 4. How in blazes do you make that distinction in the future? This is just another stupid idea from a company now run by a buffoon.

  14. dstrauss

    "...the company has done a good job of listening to user feedback..." - not quite - every Surface Book (even Surface Pro) owner I have met wanted Thunderbolt 3, not just USB-C 3.1. You can get USB-C on $300-$500 class netbooks. Future-proofing, especially at the prices they are charging, is critical, and they dropped the ball for a third (strike) time.

    • MutualCore

      In reply to dstrauss:

      There aren't enough PCI-E lanes on the Intel chip they're using to support TB3. Apparently whatever Intel chip Apple has had over the years is a custom design just for them.

      • GarethB

        In reply to MutualCore:

        It's not just Apple. Every OEM with premium products have TB3.... except Microsoft. (Dell, HP, Lenovo, Asus). They're not all using an Apple chip, they're just targeting actual users who want this stuff.

        I suspect that MS is DELIBERATELY not going TB3 to give their 'partners' a selling point over the Surface line. A Dell salesperson confidently said (to our corporate buying audience), that the advantage they had over Surface was TB3 - and strongly implied that MS wouldn't have anything to do the same this year - in February! So far, he hasn't been proved wrong.

  15. RJ Pier

    Let's see Microsoft has abandoned Band, Groove, Lumia... they've as good as stated (in a recent Joe Belfiore tweet) that they are not building any phone hardware... so the Surface mini/note/phone dream is dead. Why in the world would ANYONE plunk down $1500 to $3000 of their hard earned money on a device that Microsoft will most likely ABANDON in a year or two!

    This is especially true if you are an Enterprise customers buying in bulk. Let's face it Nadella by foregoing the Surface mini/note/phone (whatever you want to call it) has had either purposely or unwittingly ABANDONED the UWP development platform, hence... the MS App Store, and hence... Windows 10 itself.

    And now after !#[email protected]#[email protected]!# off thousands of is loyal fanbase he wants to wants to sell them a $3000 laptop!!!! Incredulous!

    After 20+ years a Microsoft fan, I'm giving up. I want nothing to do with the Surface line... the Windows OS... Office 365... Azure... Bing... MS Paint (for crying out loud)... NOTHING!

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