Missed Opportunity: Microsoft Won’t Sell Surface Performance Base Separately

Posted on November 10, 2016 by Brad Sams in Hardware with 30 Comments

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Earlier this month, Microsoft announced a new base for the Surface Book that bumped the specs of the device north with a new GPU and more batteries. If you want to read my review of the new device, you can find that here.

With the company calling the new keyboard a “performance” base, there was hope that Microsoft would offer this peripheral on its own so that Surface Book owners could upgrade their device. That’s the dream, right? A laptop that whose GPU and batteries can easily be upgraded during its lifecycle but alas, Microsoft is not making this dream a reality.

I asked Microsoft if they intend to offer the base as a stand-alone product and they told me no, or at least, not at this time. The comment from the company is below:

“Surface Book is sold as a complete unit, and as such, the Performance Base is not sold separately.”

For those wondering, you can swap the displays on standard Surface Book to the performance base and it will work just fine, I have tried this. So, if it’s not a technical reason, why else might Microsoft be artificially limiting this from happening?

One thought is that the base is simply too expensive. If the company was offering the performance base for $700, would you buy it as an upgrade? While we don’t know the price, I suspect that this may be a factor as to why it is not being offered.

Another reason could be that the market for such an upgrade may be incredibly small, which means they could end up building extra bases that will never be sold. If that is the case, I do wonder if they could make this an online only offer, where you have to order direct from the company which would reduce the overhead and distribution of the base to make this a more feasible option.

The last option is that they could be planning for this type of an offering later on with a different base that costs less but I can’t imagine how that scenario would play out and be priced significantly less than what the performance base provides today. That being said, it looks like what you buy today, is what you will be stuck with and Microsoft isn’t ready yet to maximize the true potential of the Surface book; swappable components.

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