We've had a discussion going on for a bit about the Surface Pro 3 and its potential ability to be a true laptop replacement. Obviously, this discussion was started based on Microsoft's intent to promote the Surface Pro 3 as a business device capable of merging devices (laptop/desktop/tablet) and displacing laptops as the primary purchase for business professionals. The Surface Pro 3 has a lot of people excited about us finally reaching the point in our technology history where a single device can potentially do everything.
Paul has been digging in deep and dirty with the Surface Pro 3 for that past couple weeks, offering his insight on each feature of the Surface Pro 3. I believe he has created the best coverage of the new device and if you're still wondering about any aspect of it, just read through his review. The review adds additional insight and also links to each applicable topic: Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Review
Still, I think it's important to not get confused over Microsoft's "laptop replacement" messaging, or to read through Paul's review and consider it law. It's not. Paul, myself, and others in the "industry" will have no problem using the Surface Pro 3 as a lone device, replacing everything else in our arsenal. However, when you read through the specs of the Surface Pro 3, take special care and read with the understanding that Microsoft is targeting Business Professionals, not necessarily IT Pros.
For a lot of IT Pros, the Surface Pro 3 will be enough. But, for those hardcore IT Pros, technology trainers, consultants, and others that needs just a bit more, the Surface Pro 3 will probably fall short of providing a single device that can do everything.
Let me explain.
There are quite a large number of IT Pros, consultants, and trainers that carry huge, beefy laptops with enough disk space and RAM to host multiple VMs – basically a portable lab. When you look at the Surface Pro 3 specs, even the top range, the 512GB Intel i7 only offers 8GB of RAM – not enough to host even a single VM adequately.
HOWEVER, it should be noted that carrying around VMs is sort of "old school." Obviously, the intent is never need to carry VMs around, but instead host them in Microsoft Azure. So, for those IT Pros and consultants who can work within the confines of the "new IT", as it were, the Surface Pro 3 should work.
But, there's yet another group interested in the Surface Pro 3 for whom the new device may not represent that single device Holy Grail. Think about those consultants, traveling from customer to customer, delivering demos of products. Most of them require VMs to be hosted locally in the event they cannot get access to the customer's network to supply an IP address. Having a working demo is critical, so the RAM constraint of the Surface Pro 3 might again be a limiting factor here.
So, let's look at it simply:
IT Pros = maybe, and probably in most cases.
Consultants and trainers = need a portable lab environment? Probably not.
Business Pros = yes, definitely.
On the other side of the coin, it's important for IT Pros to get a good grasp on what the Surface Pro 3 does and does not offer because when these device release publicly, IT Pros will be inundated with requests for them. So, it behooves IT Pros to get some knowledge on what they are and who Microsoft is really targeting with their messaging.
The original Surface ranks were targeted toward consumers, and really, when you think about it, that messaging hasn't changed that much. Microsoft's public reveal a few backs back wasn't centered on how Excel will run better, but instead how fast, sleek, and modern the device looks. Yes, Microsoft is promoting the Surface Pro 3 as a laptop replacement and the device is still clearly valuable for consumers, but this time around they are targeting consumers who have a business background.