Microsoft Surface Laptop First Impressions

Posted on June 19, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface with 86 Comments

Microsoft Surface Laptop First Impressions

I was able to borrow a Surface Laptop from a friend for the better part of this week, so I’d like to chime in belatedly with some first impressions. I still hope to formally review this device at some point.

Note: To be clear, Microsoft has not provided me with a Surface Laptop review unit, despite many requests. –Paul

But I can already see why Microsoft has held this machine back from me: It is elegant and beautiful, for sure, but it is also frustrating and limited, thanks to Windows 10 S. And I have some very real concerns about the build quality, as this particular device is already dinged up pretty badly despite being handled carefully.

So let’s start with that.

To achieve its colorful design, Surface Laptop returns to the anodized paint process used by early Surface devices. This means that it can chip or scratch, revealing the silver color of the metal underneath. And on this particular device, barely 10 days old, that’s exactly what’s happened in three places: Gouges from normal usage reveal that its pretty red coloring is in fact just surface-level, like lipstick.

There’s a gouge!

That is disappointing, because the primary selling point of this device, I think, is this gorgeous color design. And when you couple this fact with the recent news that Surface Laptop is in no way repairable or upgradeable, the entire value proposition starts to fall apart.

Aside from these blemishes, Surface Laptop is indeed beautiful. It’s also thin, light, and very portable. And when you consider that the keyboard, touchpad, and display are all essentially identical in size to those found on Surface Book, it’s impressive how much more travel-friendly this device really is.

That said, the Alcantara material on the keyboard deck is rightfully controversial. I find it both attractive and nice to the touch, but I am worried that it will dull or stain with use and time. So far, it looks and feels fine. (And since this isn’t my computer, I won’t be smearing Coke or Cheetos into the Alcantara.)

The color matching between the metal body, the plastic keys, the glass touchpad, and the Alcantara covering is excellent, with the keyboard and touchpad just a hair darker for much-needed contrast. It’s just really nice looking.

The display, too, is beautiful, and while its 2256 x 1504 resolution is lower than that of Surface Book (in the same 13.5-inch frame), I’d never notice that if it hadn’t been pointed out to me. I like that the bezels are fairly small—smaller than those on the new Surface Pro, for sure—and are black, which helps the display appear to float above the keyboard.

But the expansion situation is unacceptable, regardless of your opinion of its lack of USB-C/Thunderbolt 3. There is just a single, full-sized USB 3 port, so you’ll need a dongle if you want to use two devices (like a mouse and Ethernet adapter). That more than sort of undercuts the primary issue people have with USB-C/Thunderbolt 3. (As I’ve argued in the past, the dongle issue is not new to USB-C/Thunderbolt 3.)

Surface Laptop also includes an old-school miniDisplayPort for video-out and a Surface Connect port (on the right) for power or Dock-based expansion. There are two slot-like things on each side that look like SD card readers, but are in fact just weird antenna designs. It’s best not to look at them.

Setting up Surface Laptop for the first time, I ran into numerous issues. Starting of course with the overly-loud and completely unwanted and unnecessary Cortana voice-over in Setup. But this device presents other challenges. After manually triggering over 20 app update downloads and syncing OneDrive, I tried to figure out how to get Office on this device. And it should be easier, frankly.

There are tiles in the Start menu for Word 2016 and other Office applications, but when you select one, the Store launches and navigates to a preview version of Office 365 Personal. I actually have an Office 365 Home subscription, and while I know this is, in fact, available from the Store too, I couldn’t find it easily. I finally did find Office 365 Home by searching and then changing the filters. It shouldn’t be this hard.

With that out of the way, I started to consider which apps I use every day and how I could cope with the limitations imposed on me by Windows 10 S, which only works with Store apps. There’s no Chrome, of course, so Edge will have to do. I use MarkdownPad for writing, but Microsoft Word is acceptable. I use the Twitter web app, so I’ll need to stick to an Edge tab for now. Ditto for Google Inbox and Google Calendar, though I guess I could slum it and use the built-in Mail and Calendar apps for the week.

I prefer the desktop version of Skype, but I’ll need to stick with the UWP version. Ditto for OneNote. Fortunately, Adobe Photoshop Elements 15 is a Store app.

Looking over this list, Chrome is enough of a pain point that it would require me to take advantage of the Windows 10 Pro upgrade. It’s not just the browser, it’s the web apps (Inbox, Google Calendar, Twitter Lite) that I pin to my taskbar too. And the performance. And the extensions. And the ability to use Google Search instead of Bing, which no one in their right mind would ever choose. (Yes, I know I can visit Spare me.)

MarkdownPad is a problem too. I’ve been trying to replace this unsupported desktop application with a web app or Store app for months, but it’s just indispensable. Word is OK for a week, but not long-term.

Ultimately, what we have here is an elegant looking machine that seems to fall apart the closer you examine it. Surface Laptop is expensive, with a real base price of $1300 for a version with enough RAM to last a few years and those neat color choices, and there’s a lot of serious competition in that price range. The build quality issues are concerning, and while Windows 10 Pro is a free upgrade now, it won’t always be.

But as I’ve noted in the past, Surface Laptop does have that special something. It’s thin, light, and pretty, and the battery life is allegedly impressive. The performance of this version—a Core i5 with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of SSD storage—is stellar so far. The device is lappable, unlike the new Surface Pro, and I don’t find it to be particularly top-heavy.

So … I don’t know. Surface Laptop is a device that speaks more to the heart than the mind. And that alone makes it a viable competitor to any Apple laptop.

But if you’re in the market for a PC, you will want to really research your options. And, preferably, get some hands-on time at a local Microsoft Store or other retailer.

I’d love to review Surface Laptop over a longer period of time. If only Microsoft would give me the chance.


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Comments (86)

86 responses to “Microsoft Surface Laptop First Impressions”

  1. Locust Infested Orchard Inc.

    In a nutshell then, beauty at a price, who's beauty shall diminish over time.

    Granted, anything beautiful suffers a similar fate.

  2. johnbaxter

    Paul, have you tried tossing a plug into the headphone jack before beginning the first run experience? That should silence the Cortana blast (but maybe not--the speaker silence with headphones could be a software thing and if so could be overridden at first run).

  3. Oasis

    In the 3rd picture in your article I see a reflection of the Eiffel Towel. Did you take a side trip.

  4. WayneRobinson

    Paul, typing this on my Surface Laptop which arrived yesterday. There are two things you need to revisit:

    1. You can turn Cortana's voice off during initial setup by clicking the microphone icon
    2. Re Office 365. I just went through the motions of letting it install Office 365 Personal. It then took me to my account informing me I already have an Office 365 Home account and gave me two options:

    1. Change to Office 365 Personal and extend it for 12 months, or
    2. Keep Office 365 Home and extend it for 9 months.

    As an aside, I'm sticking with Windows 10S for as long as I can... time will tell if I need to upgrade to Pro.

  5. c4995z

    The problem with most of the Surface Laptop reviews I have read is that most of them are written from a male, techie perspective. I took some time with this device at the local Microsoft store and will be getting one for my wife to replace the Surface Book she currently uses. It addresses her biggest complaints about the Surface Book. These are: 1) it looks, feels, and packs lighter; 2) she can open it with one hand, without breaking a nail, instead of having to claw it open with two hands.

    The 10S version will appeal to her desire for security, and the ability to install and remove applications with essentially "one button". The most secure environment is important because she handles most of our financial transactions and record keeping. Quicken needs to get with it and get in the store. Certainly if iTunes can, they could as well. For the few occasions she wishes to use a pen the laptop, held in portrait with the keyboard cradled in the off arm, is perfectly usable for signing the odd document or jotting and occasional note. She is not going to toss it in a slag bag with handcuffs, spurs, or whatever else you managed to scratch your loaner with.  Mercy.

    It will greatly reduce my fear of Google colonizing her pristine computer every time she signs in to Gmail or does a Google search.  She doesn't plug in a snakes nest of attachments, using a Bluetooth mouse and wireless adapter for a large screen at her desk.

    I would think that there are many lightly technical, knowledge workers like my spouse who are going to love this device and they will start to vent their annoyance at any company who ignores them by not getting in the store. I for one will fan this flame. This device does not seem targeted at most of the people reviewing it. This is the laptop equivalent of a BMW 3 Series convertible or SUV.

  6. Waethorn

    Re: paint job.

    It's broken. Throw it away now and buy a new one.

  7. Darmok N Jalad

    I guess it would have been a bit of an unusual move, but I wonder if they should have made a traditional metal keyboard surround to appeal to those that don't like the fabric material.

    One of the silvery Surface 2s I owned had the same problem of finish chipping off. The actual vaporMag material is more shiny and smooth. MS wouldn't fix it under warranty, instead suggesting I be more careful with the device. I treat my stuff pretty well, and I did nothing unusual to it to cause the finish to come off. Dings and scratches, sure, but I've never had such a thing happen to other metal devices I've owned.

  8. Narg

    I'm starting to get tired of the lack of plugs/connections on newer devices. Computers are basically worthless without input/output ability, and limiting that is not a good thing in any way, shape or form. Both Apple and Microsoft seem to forget what computers are for sometimes...

  9. bbold

    I got the same model you tested (but Cobalt Blue version), and I am absolutely loving it. I've got all my music and photos syncing in OneDrive. I basically use mine for WordPress blogging, school work online and a little bit of eBay browsing, music listening and photo editing. So far, I am very impressed. It's super light, I don't notice any build issues at all, and it's super-fast to open, get going and to just get work done. A perfect solution for me and most likely many other regular consumers/students. Battery seems to be about 8 hours with normal use. The alcantara fabric keyboard is also nice to touch, I don't tend to eat on top of my laptop like many others apparently do (lol!) so I have not noticed the fabric being a problem. I also wash my hands quite frequently before doing any kind of computing, I always have, so this will never be an issue. It's beautiful and fast. Windows 10 S is perfect for me, too. Most of the sites I go to don't require apps and I just go to the website. I am also discovering there are many apps in the Windows Store I didn't know existed which are great to use, it would be nice if some of those could be covered or reviewed here at some point. It's not a TOTAL graveyard, but yes, it could use more popular apps to entice people to buy in to it, but a free Pro upgrade that takes 1 minute isn't that big of a deal, I feel. My score:  A+

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to bbold:

      It's not possible to sync music and photos with any other Windows laptop running any Windows 10 SKU? You're not seriously arguing that's a distinguishing feature for Surface laptop and Windows 10 S, are you?

      am also discovering there are many apps in the Windows Store I didn't know existed which are great to use, it would be nice if some of those could be covered or reviewed here at some point.

      Why don't YOU provide some names. Otherwise, this reads as shilling for the Windows Store.

      • unfalln

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        I haven't personally got a hope in hell of accessing a Surface Laptop (the best I've got is my Surface Pro 2) but seriously mate, there's no need to ream the guy for liking the device. He wasn't writing a list of advertisable features to "shill", he was simply saying that those features made his particular experience positive. This was clearly a YMMV post. Focus your rage on something important!

  10. ilovemissy85

    There is no way I'm going to pay $1500.00 for a "cloth" computer -----------NO WAY------------

  11. Chris Payne

    "Surface Laptop is expensive, with a real base price of $1300 for a version with enough RAM to last a few years and those neat color choices, and there’s a lot of serious competition in that price range"

    This. Surface should be leading the competition. It should make you want it above all other things. It's supposed to stand out.

    This laptop does none of those. I don't know why Microsoft put this out. (And, because "customers wanted it" doesn't excuse releasing a half-assed device.)

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Chris Payne:

      OR it's MSFT's latest attempt to resuscitate the Windows Store.

      Surface laptops are sold with Windows 10 S to get people to use only Windows Store and web apps (and a few bundled desktop applets like Notepad). Some people may convince themselves they can get by with Windows 10 S.

      Also, it's a 3:2 laptop. Some of us have really despised the era of 16:9 and are ready for some choice in laptop screen aspect ratios.

  12. Roger Ramjet

    There is a really interesting divergence in the reaction of premium and standard comments to this article ...

    Further, it seems the premium reaction is coming from people who have actually spent their money to buy this machine, while the standard reaction is otherwise. Certainly premium users on this site are more likely to be deeper in the Microsoft ecosystem, one wonders (true in at least one or two cases) if some standard users are actually not merely neutral, but the opposite of that ...

  13. Daekar

    Sounds like a laptop I would enjoy as a supplement to my desktop. Don't understand the hate, personally.

  14. Jeff Jones

    And the ability to use Google Search instead of Bing, which no one in their right mind would ever choose. (Yes, I know I can visit Spare me.)

    Paul, are you saying that Windows 10 S won't let you change the default search engine in the Edge browser? If so, I think that might be taking this "secure" platform idea a step to far.

    • Eric Dunbar

      In reply to Jeff Jones:

      Why did DataMeister's comment get downvoted?

      Windows 10 S does not allow you to change the default browser from Edge and in Edge you cannot change the default search engine from Bing*.

      The Windows Store terms of agreement also prevent third party developers from ever bringing their own rendering engine to the Windows Store. For a browser to be posted on Windows Store (and, thus Windows 10 S) it must use the less capable EdgeHTML rendering engine. This means Windows Store will never have any other browsers worth mentioning.

      Chrome and FireFox will never be brought to Windows 10 S. The only reason Google might put a Chrome wrapper around EdgeHTML is to provide people with a version of Edge (which still can't be set as the default browser) that can use Google as the default search engine.

      My prediction is that Windows 10 S will never take off because once reviewers and users get their hands on it they'll discover what life will be like with the internet only being allowed to be viewed through the terribly mediocre Edge and Bing*.

      *Having fought with Bing today to get any meaningful search results for my query (and, getting exactly what I was looking for from I can confidently say that Bing is even worse than Google than Edge is worse than Chrome.

  15. will

    It would have been good of Microsoft to release a version, say the high end i7 version, with out the fabric. While I understand the idea of making it "feel" better, it is a computer and I have never once touched a laptop and thought "Wow, this is so cold and stiff to use."

    Port wise it was a poor decision on Microsofts part to NOT include a USB-C/Thunderbolt port. What I feel we have here is the BEST laptop of 2016, not the best laptop of 2017. But, these are just my thoughts :)

  16. Jim Parker

    Word of advice to anyone purchasing an expensive piece of technology from Microsoft:

    Buy it from a Microsoft Store. Every single purchase I've ever made from one of these stores, has been met with EXCELLENT customer service and support. My bet is that if the device fails for any reason, they will replace it for you in-store for free.

    Recently, I took back my wife's Microsoft Band because the rubber banding was coming apart. The MS store rep didn't have any more bands in stock to replace it, so he simply refunded my money 100%...from a purchase over a year ago.

    On another occasion, my father-in-law's HP laptop that he had purchased a few month's prior, started behaving oddly. A full restore of the OS didn't correct the problem, so the store rep gave him a brand new laptop.

    Now, all that being said, I don't think MS is going to issues refunds and replacements for scratched or dinged Surface Laptops. So...if you value your >$1000 purchase, perhaps don't throw it around and smear Cheetos on it.

  17. derylmccarty

    Some great points, Paul. Am currently in the "looking seriously" mode and the Laptop is looking to edge out the Pro. But in my case it will be "gray" or whatever color that is. But I think that in choosing AL versus MG (Surface Book) for structure puts MSFT in the "its gonna scratch path" and you will notice unless the outer surface color is bright silver, because whenever you scratch AL the bright silver underneath will show. MG doesn't scratch so easily and the color underneath is the same as the outside. Boring, perhaps, but more durable. I wonder why they chose AL...cheaper? It isn't lighter nor more durable nor as rigid. I don't think I will mind the one Type 3 since the Surface connect is where I have the Surface Dock and all else to drive my desk life. But I do think I will miss the microSD slot. Even now, I have a 200GB SDXC that is bitlockered and stores "stuff". But perhaps I should use the OneDrive "on demand" to do the same thing and get a 1TB SSD versus a 0.5 to tide me over should a connection not be available. Your advice: visit a store and put your hands on it is spot on. Bellevue, here I come.

  18. Jim Parker

    "And the ability to use Google Search instead of Bing, which no one in their right mind would ever choose."

    I'm a self-identified Bing-lover. I admit that I have a bias against Google (even though I sport an Android-based phone), so my view may be tainted. But, can someone please tell me why Google search is supposedly so much better than Bing? I can honestly say I've never been unable to find what I was looking for using Bing, so I'm wondering what all the hubbub is about and what I'm missing by avoiding Google.

    • JohnPC

      In reply to Jim Parker:

      I agree. I'll occasionally search for something in both and don't really see much difference. Don't know why it requires the "no one in their right mind would ever choose" hyperbole.

      Besides, I prefer to keep as much of my personal information away from Google as I can...

    • offTheRecord

      In reply to Jim Parker:

      I think it's a YMMV sort of thing. My own experience has been that Google searches have tended to yield better results for me than Bing searches. Maybe Bing has improved over time, but I usually avoid it in favor of Google; and, usually finding what I'm looking for on Google, there's basically no need to use Bing.

      • offTheRecord

        In reply to offTheRecord:


        Would whoever downvoted my description of my personal experience with search engines mind expanding a bit on why my description of my personal experience with search engines warrants disapproval?

      • Jim Parker

        In reply to offTheRecord:

        I have no issues with a YMMV viewpoint. But that doesn't explain many voiced opinions that suggest Bing is somehow inferior. If it is, I would love to hear exactly how.

        But yes, if you're happy with Google I can see why one would see no reason to switch...unless of course you had to, say like with Windows 10 S. In that case, I can see maybe it being a nuisance, but that's about it.

        • offTheRecord

          In reply to Jim Parker:

          "But that doesn't explain many voiced opinions"

          I can't speak for "many voiced opinions." I can, and did, only speak for myself based on my own experiences.

          I will say I've never done a direct side-by-side comparison (and certainly not recently) because I haven't felt the need to. If the day comes where my search engine of choice lets me down, I'll probably look at alternatives. That's not the case right now.

          • Jim Parker

            In reply to offTheRecord:

            I think we're in violent agreement on that point ;-)

            I was merely referencing a common theme I hear with Google vs Bing around the web (not from you). It sounds like you don't really bash Bing, but merely have no reason to leave Google for it just yet. That viewpoint makes sense. 

      • Daekar

        In reply to offTheRecord:

        I disagree. I would assert that their text search is more or less the same, but the Bing image and video searches are FAR superior to those on Google. Given that the text searches are equivalent, there is basically no need to use Google when Bing's results for everything else are so much better.

        • Eric Dunbar

          In reply to offTheRecord:

          I disagree. I would assert that their text search is more or less the same, but the Bing image and video searches are FAR superior to those on Google. Given that the text searches are equivalent, there is basically no need to use Google when Bing's results for everything else are so much better.

          I've not been particularly impressed by Bing's image searches. If I accidentally do an image search using Bing I usually end up changing the domain to Google because the images are unsatisfactory.

          Yesterday I was trying to do a quick search in a brand new Windows 10 install. I hadn't even installed Chrome yet, that's how new it was. So, I ended up in Bing for text results. It was a useless experience. Bing couldn't figure out the language I was using wasn't English (it was Dutch FYI) and it also couldn't figure out how to do a news search. Changed the domain to (not even and, voila, I got the exact search results I wanted.

          My order of preference is Google, because it "just works" and then Duck Duck Go, because it manages to find relevant search results (not as convenient but a lot more private). Bing is far, far, far down on my list because of the insane amount of spying that Microsoft does with Windows 10 there's no way I want that spying to be correlated with web searches.

          That's perhaps the biggest story that's going unreported--Microsoft has so much tracking going on in Windows 10 I suspect the EU will be investigating in the not-so-distant future. If Microsoft gets to couple that with your search history (as they would if they got you to use Bing) you're in serious trouble.

          Anyway, hopefully the market will kill WIndows 10 S. It's a privacy destroying idea hatched by a company with a rather disturbing track record when it comes to privacy.

          • Jim Parker

            In reply to Eric Dunbar: (OntarioPundit)

            You bring up a valid reason for how Google may be better than Bing, which is that perhaps the non-US experience isn't has good as it is for folks here in the US. That's a bummer if true, and I would agree that would likely send me over to Google too. For me though, Bing image search is excellent, and text search satisfies each time. Hopefully as Bing gains in popularity, Microsoft will work harder to improve it around the world.

            As for the rest of your comments on Windows 10 "spying" and lost me.

  19. mngeek

    Great honest feedback. You really hit on the areas a tech junky wants to know when waivering over the idea of dropping $1300 for one. Thanks for your great work! Fingers crossed Microsoft pulls their heads out and gets you a review unit asap.

  20. charms55

    Sounds like something screaming for a second generation already. Not unsual. Despite what we think, this is a step different than the other devices out there so far, the Surface Pro and Surface Book. Unfortunately, like all things, early adopters often take the brunt of the beta releases. This seems beautiful, and for my son, for example, this would be perfect. The problem is, the starting price here in Japan is around 130,00o yen. For that, a Surface Pro 4 could be had, including Keyboardwith more memory. But here I am pounding away on my Surface Pro 3 with Pro 5 Keyboard and pen. Not sure it is worth the jump, even with free Windows 10 Pro.

  21. Will.Smothers


    we have been field testing the Pro, Book, Book w/ Performance base, and Laptop for about a week now to determine our next standard device. I will mirror you sentiment that the laptop is eligant.

    Because of the color issue we have decided to select the Platinum "color" to minimize the noticeability of scratches and gouges. We are also replacing the OS with Windows 10 Enterprise. Here are my thoughts so far (and please keep in mind we are an ENR top 120 construction firm):


    VERY thin

    VERY light

    Same connectivity as the Pro and Book

    Incredible performance

    Bigger screen than Pro

    Advanced product replacemnt w/ extended warranty

    Does not require a kick stand to stand up


    Limited expansion options


    Unknown battery life

    No HDMI

    Cannot lay flat to take notes

    Unknown Variables

    Alcatara durability in the field

    We are more likely than not standardizing on the Laptop for or standard users and for our 3D modelers and Marketing folks we will use the Book w/ performance base. We will make the Pro available on request but it is more expensive and when adding the Typecover and Pen, it becomes real expensive...

    My final thought is this: Having spoken with Microsoft quite a bit about 10 S, remember what it's purpose is - it is for use in schools where they need to control what gets installed and minimize the risk of picking up a virus or corrupting the OS by a bad application installation. Microsoft intends for most normal users to take advantage of the $50 upgrade to Pro.

  22. RobertJasiek

    @Roger Ramjet about not merely neutral opinions, speaking only for myself:

    I can tolerate

    • some devices emphasising function more than form or vice versa,
    • some devices being expensive for the extra degree of elegance,
    • some people perceiving certain elegance I do not (e.g., I would never choose the non-metal colours but understand that some love them),
    • a design emphasising light and thin,
    • an operating system mode emphasising simplicity and OOTB security,
    • some preferring notebooks although I prefer tablets.

    I do not tolerate

    • wasted ressources and energy of the planet,
    • a service rip off, which asks 10 times the prices possible,
    • warranties only offered for a too small number of years,
    • warranties excluding the most likely component (battery) needing replacement,
    • a missing promise for how many years battery replacement is available,
    • a device culture with which one device is used to test how far the manufacturer can bend product design of other devices, OS restrictions (of which some even violate laws, such as exclusive Bing defaults) and services aganst the best interest of the users,
    • a design for maximal obsolescence instead of, given form requirements, maximal repairability (opening of the back must always be possible regardless of how thin the device is, opening a device must always be possible without having to destroy it etc,)
    • abuse of design of an OS mode to also have unnecessary restrictions (Bing, Edge),
    • offering greater OOTB security for Windows 10 S but not also for other Windows 10 versions to the extent possible for the sole purpose of better advertising allegedly greater security of 10 S whilst acting against the user's security interests in other Windows versions,
    • tiny arrow keys and bad placement of the power button are never good design because better functional design is possible for the same degree of elegance (e.g., make the space key shorter so arrow keys have normal size, omit the power button entirely but opening the display could power on the device).
  23. MikeGalos

    So, in short, Windows 10S is not ideal for somebody who lives almost entirely in the Google ecosystem without doing the currently free upgrade to Windows 10.

    • skane2600

      In reply to MikeGalos:
      I think the more significant problem is for people who live almost entirely in the Windows ecosystem (as it has been understood for decades).
      • Waethorn

        In reply to skane2600:

        The two programs keeping me from switching entirely to a Linux platform is Paint Shop Pro and Cakewalk. I can run everything else on Linux or in a Windows VM, but Paint Shop Pro doesn't run well in a VM, and I need drivers for a specific MIDI interface I use, and they aren't available for anything but Windows.

        The big problem for me is that I can't decide on a desktop. Ubuntu has the best hardware support, but until they publish 1710, GNOME isn't complete and polished for the platform. I like the idea of Solus, in that they're trying to produce a Linux desktop that isn't heavily reliant on other library sources, but the reality is that this causes more issues than it seeks to correct. It's fast - much faster than Ubuntu - but not well supported. Fedora is polished, but I don't like their package manager. I do like apt, and Ubuntu's support for PPA's, but I think Canonical is going in the wrong direction (like they did with Unity) with Snaps, in favour of Flatpak.

        I do like the customization of GNOME with their extension support, since you can make it look like any other Linux DE. Budgie is close, but not quite there yet.

        • offTheRecord

          In reply to Waethorn:

          As a result of the Windows Update fiasco in Windows 10, we ended up replacing Windows with Linux on all of our production PCs. We'd been thinking about making the move for a while, but that gave us the push we needed to finally make it happen. Due to the low resource requirements of Linux, it also let us put some older low-spec PCs back into production.

          We've also started running desktop systems with Linux along side our Windows desktops to see how that goes. We're finding that pretty much everything we use runs on Linux -- even the odd Win32 apps we use run properly in WINE. The exception is MS Office, but a lot of what we used to do with Office (create documents/spreadsheets/graphs) has been programmed directly into our production process. All of the other routine stuff can be handled easily with the online versions of Office or Google apps.

          Five years ago, something like this would have been unthinkable to us. As little as two years ago, we were a 100% Microsoft shop. Now, almost two-thirds of our PCs run Linux. The added bonus is that most of the stuff we're using now is open source.

        • Bill Russell

          In reply to Waethorn:

          I really like having two computers - linux and windows (at work). I've done VM on one or the other OS but using rdesktop from linux to the windows machine is the way to go and effectively has 16GB RAM between the two. I do almost everything from linux and have more piece of mind about not getting malware, like avoiding browsing on the windows side and only using Outlook from chrome on linux and at least testing attachments with libreoffice and typically converting to pdf, etc.

          I recommend xfce/xubuntu for a serious work desktop. I've been experimenting here and there for 10 years and finally settled there. Xubuntu has 3 years LTS support and can be upgraded in place without reinstall. Regular ubuntu has 5 yr. But you will probably upgrade every 2 years.

          • Waethorn

            In reply to Bill Russell:

            Malware isn't an issue with me. Performance is. And every Linux distro I've tried, including Ubuntu which is quite "heavy", performs so much faster than Windows 10. Even updates install faster, and I don't have to do reboots to apply most Linux updates.

            I'm not a fan of xfce or lxde, but I get why they exist. Budgie and Cinnamon are pretty similar, but I still like Budgie's options more than any of these. I like GNOME too. GNOME is probably the most polished and best-looking of any of them because of extension support - the basic functionality isn't to my liking, what with not even offering proper windowed applications. KDE Plasma is waaay too slow too. I don't like MATE. MATE is going backwards with a lot of their stuff.

    • RonH

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      Google could create UWP programs if they wanted too...

      • skane2600

        In reply to RonH:

        True, but not really relevant to a buying decision.

      • Eric Dunbar

        In reply to MikeGalos:

        Google could create UWP programs if they wanted too...

        Google can't create UWP programs. To do so they'd need a decent HTML rendering engine and the terms of the Windows Store prevent them from bringing Blink, Chrome's rendering engine, to Windows Store. For Google to do anything in UWP they are forced to use the vastly inferior EdgeHTML rendering engine that Microsoft provides.

        As it is we will never see FireFox, Chrome, Vivaldi or any other decent (and, superior to Edge) browser come to the Windows Store. Windows Store requires the use of EdgeHTML and Windows 10 S prevents users from changing the default browser from Edge.

  24. Tony Barrett

    So, it looks nice, but it only runs 'surface deep'! Once you start looking closer and using it, you see the problems, limitations and downright bad design choices. That's a heck of a lot of money for something with this many issues. iFixit positively trashed this laptop for repairability or for user upgrades. I guess we really do live in a disposable world!

  25. mclanasa

    I've had it since Thursday and it has performed very well. I updated it to windows 10 pro as soon as it arrived. Setup was easy and I haven't had any issues. I have the i7 version with 8GB. The battery has been impressive and when I close the lid it actually goes to sleep properly without an issues (unlike my surface pro 3). The limited ports aren't an issue for me. The device has been impressive so far and will send an update in a month to see how it holds up. I actually also love the keyboard and trackpad. Hopefully you get to fully test one out.

    • JerryH

      In reply to mclanasa:

      My wife and I got ours last Wednesday. So far, they are really nice. I replaced a Surface Pro 3 with mine and my wife replaced a Surface Pro 2. We realized we never used those devices without the keyboard (I think I did one time maybe) so the compromises of the Surface Pro form factor when used as a notebook / laptop made it a no brainer to go back to a notebook form factor. We got the burgandy and the cobalt. So far no scratches or dings, but from Paul's picture it looks like they will happen. Like many people I would prefer that it had a USB-C port, but the lack of ports isn't really a problem. About all I ever plug in to it when undocked is a memory key or the like. Mice are Bluetooth these days Paul! We will have to see how these do over time - but so far they have been very nice.

      I took mine to work to show to some of the folks there. We are in central IT for a very large company. Our hardware guy loved it, but told me laughingly not to let any of our executives see it. (They tend to be "oh, shiny" types and would want it right away).

  26. ibmthink

    Form over function. Microsoft, this is Apples philosophy. You are better than this.

    One example for such a mind-boggling design-decision is the placement of the power button. Its part of the keyboard, but it doesn´t sit at the corner. Instead, it sits between the Delete and the PageDwn key...

    • bbold

      In reply to ibmthink:

      And thus far, I haven't accidentally hit it at all, I don't think the power button placement is a huge problem. I've been using mine since last Friday and haven't even hit it by accident once, and I've been using it nonstop. I feel this is a MUCH better solution than the power button solutions on the Surface Pro's and SB's, those, you can accidentally turn on by throwing it into a case or a bag, which sucks and drains your battery. Not an issue with the Surface Laptop.

  27. jboman32768

    Looks pretty nice, although I get the impression you were a lot happier with the HP X360 in comparison.

  28. Waethorn

    This device is DOA in Canada - the Windows Store listing for Office either won't load, or says to visit to download the desktop version (which doesn't work).

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Waethorn:

      Are you actually using Windows 10 S to look for Office in the Windows Store? I ask because Mary Jo Foley has an article mentioning that it only shows up for Windows 10 S: , last paragraph.

      • Waethorn

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        Well I can tell you that many times I've tried clicking the link for the subscriptions and the page just comes up with an error saying it can't display the page.

        Try it. Try searching for Office 365. Click the link for Personal or Home. The error message is Code: 0x8000FFFF

  29. JudaZuk

    This computer could have been very interesting, but then they mess it up and put cloth around the keyboard... so incredibly dumb , it is a no buy immediately because of it .

    Have you ever felt when you look at your current laptop, "hmm if I could just have a filth magnet around the keyboard.. now that would have made my computer perfect" , I bet you haven't

    • bbold

      In reply to JudaZuk:

      Microsoft is trying new things and I think we should embrace it. People always find something to nit-pick about, I think the alcantara stands out and looks great. I don't eat spaghetti on top of my laptops like apparently many people do :D

  30. kfritz

    > MarkdownPad is a problem too. I’ve been trying to replace this unsupported desktop application with a web app or Store app for months, but it’s just indispensable.

    Have you tried Visual Studio Code? It is about as lightweight as MarkdownPad and can do syntax highlighting and live preview for any file with a ".md" extension. It also has been getting frequent updates; MarkdownPad hasn't been updated since 2014. Unfortunately, it isn't in the Store, so Windows 10 S isn't going to run it.

  31. Chris_Kez

    I'm not sure that a scratch on the lid equates to concerns about "build quality".

    The weird difficulty with Office is a legitimate and helpful complaint. I'm not sure why Microsoft can't get this straight.

    As far as Windows 10S I think Paul should probably just stay away. It was immediately apparent weeks ago that it is not a good fit for him.

  32. JanesJr1

    Hey, I'm educated and have been a PC power user for 35 years. No-one's said I'm not "in my right mind". What's so great about Google Search over Bing? I use both depending on setting and machine (whatever is default) and I have absolutely no problem with Bing, and can't imagine why that itself would matter at all in selecting Win 10S.

  33. cyloncat

    I picked one up (i7/8/256) at the local MS store this weekend, and upgraded to W10 Pro before leaving the store. I'm very happy with it; this is a more-or-less mature Surface product, in spite of being a new form factor for Microsoft. The platinum finish is just as vulnerable to scratching as the colors, unfortunately, but otherwise, the hardware, performance, and everything is good. Even with the lower screen resolution compared to the Surface Book, the display is excellent. I did not get a pen; I'll keep a Pro around for things that use a pen or dial. So far, so good.

    • bbold

      In reply to cyloncat:

      Same here. I also have a Surface Pro 4 (Core M) and a Surface Book, so I have other machines I can use to install or do whatever I want to outside of Windows 10 S on the Surface Laptop. I like to use my SL as my writing machine since I mainly use Office on it so far, and Windows Store apps are fine. Unlike most, I have not upgraded, I want to try out this version of Windows since I have so many other Surface/s at my disposal to use. Why not?

  34. skane2600

    It seems odd to me that an OS version that is supposed to target education and compete with Chromebooks first appears in a device that does neither. Way too expensive relative to the average Chromebook.

  35. Delmont

    What is the Twitter web app?

  36. Bats

    Wasn't this supposed to be the Chromebook killer?

  37. robincapper

    The marking thing is unfortunate but brings to mind a quote from a brilliant, sadly now deceased, British motoring journalist L.J.K. Setright. After a tour of a, then new, high tech water based car paint facility he ended his article with the line (quoted from memory):

    'Of course, if you have to paint it you have probably selected the wrong material to start with.'

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