Like many of you, I have been watching manufacturers announce new hardware at IFA2015 which is being held in Berlin, Germany.
It is quite amazing to see the variety of form factors that are hitting the market and I am not sure there would have been such a level of innovation if not for Microsoft and its decision to build Surface.
It was less than three years ago that Microsoft announced, as it was known then, Surface RT on 26 October 2012. In February of 2013 Surface Pro arrived followed by Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 in October of that same year.
Surface Pro 3 arrived in June of 2014 and earlier this year, in May, Surface 3 made its debut.
That is six iterations of Surface in less than 3 years which is an amazing engineering feat. You also saw with each successive version of Surface that Microsoft was learning from earlier mistakes in design and functionality to improve the device.
We now sit on the cusp of the arrival of Surface Pro 4, which is expected to be announced next month, and I have no doubt Microsoft will up the ante on Surface with this launch as well.
Since taking over as CEO, Satya Nadella has said on several occasions that Microsoft builds first party hardware to show what their software products are capable of doing – to make them shine. This was the same message a couple of months ago when the company decided to complete re-work their entire phone/mobile division – Microsoft would build first party phones to show the capabilities of Windows 10.
Those first party devices also provided examples of what devices can and should be for manufacturers so they can also raise the level of build quality and appearance.
Think back to just a few years ago and the launch of Windows 8 – what kind of devices did you see hit the store shelves for that launch? Initially not much of anything because manufacturers had to wait for the RTM of Windows 8 to begin building new devices. That resulted in a lag to market for new hardware of a few months and part of the reason there were so few touch devices on the shelves to take advantage of Windows 8 and its touch capabilities. It took almost a year after the launch of Windows 8 for us to have several touch screen based laptop models in the Best Buy I worked at as a Microsoft Consultant.
Unfortunately, a vast majority of those devices were also plastic clamshell laptops and full of unnecessary software loaded on by the manufacturer. The initial user experience was subpar on many levels.
Fast forward to events happening at IFA2015 in Berlin, Germany this week and let’s take a look at one of the product announcements from Lenovo.
Lenovo Miix 700
They say imitation is the highest form of flattery so Microsoft should be blushing right about now as they see this new hybrid device from Lenovo which was just announced at IFA2015.
Check out this short hands on video from Boored At Work to get an idea of the device.
While many aspects of this device will remind you of Surface Pro 3, Lenovo has also gone beyond that and have added several additional enhancements:
- An extra full size USB port for a total of two (one 2.0 and one 3.0)
- SIM card slot with optional LTE
- Windows Hello compatible camera but to be fair we expect to see that same camera on the Surface Pro 4
- A multi position hinge using their unique watchband hinge from the Yoga 3 Pro device
- A premium detachable keyboard, that also serves as a cover for the devices screen, and is made of what appears to be faux leather and has a larger keyboard layout and trackpad. Did I mention it is included in the cost of the device and not a separate accessory like the Surface Type Cover?
All of those additional enhancements are included starting at $699. The innovation and going beyond the expected norms for what a Windows device should be is clearly visible in the Miix 700 and it is good to see.
When the tech press begins calling your device a “Surface Killer” then you are on the right track and I do not believe Microsoft is objecting to it one tiny bit because that is why they built Surface – to trigger innovation.
You are also hearing more often from OEMs that they worked closely with Microsoft to develop their new hardware which is also resulting in a better hardware/software experience.
A great example of this is the HP Spectre x360.
As someone mentioned to me on Twitter this morning a healthy partner ecosystem is good for Microsoft, Windows and its partners.
Oh and us customers benefit as well with great choices for our computing experiences.