Football has United and City, DC has Batman and The Joker, and IT has Microsoft(opens in a new tab) and Apple. While the two traded blows on everything from desktops to processors, Apple was the only one of the pair producing laptops. That has changed over the past few years, and now Microsoft finds itself on par with its competitor, or in some cases even surpassing Apple, with a variety of models and 2-in-1 laptops on the market.
Microsoft finally jumped into space with the first Surface tablet in 2012 and never looked back. The tablet was initially launched to directly compete with the iPad, which has long been the best line of high-end tablets on the market. The Surface has proven to be a hit, offering a real alternative to Apple’s iPads and MacBooks.
What worked in Microsoft’s favor was a smoother design philosophy and functionality across all of its Surface products compared to Apple. While Apple has maintained a sort of strict separation between iPads and MacBooks, each distinctly a tablet or laptop, Microsoft has tried to blur that line with 2-in-1 options and flexible laptops. The best example is the Surface Pro 9(opens in a new tab), the 2-in-1 powerhouse of Microsoft offerings. On the face of it, you’re getting a laptop that matches the MacBook Pro, but if you need a power tablet, remove the screen and you now, in a sense, have an iPad Pro. If you prefer a more traditional design, the Surface Laptop(opens in a new tab) provides this while retaining some features, like the responsive touchscreen.
If there’s a downside to Microsoft’s approach, it’s that there’s still limited choice, but the sheer flexibility makes up for the lack of choice in spades. And if you can offer a legitimate alternative to Apple, especially with fewer options, then you’re doing something right.