Microsoft Surface Pro Echoes Apple’s Annoying Advantage – Forbes

One of the curious observations about Microsoft’s program of Surface devices is how the devices in the same breath are totally unlike any Apple device while seeming to follow many of the underlying assumptions about the hardware from Cupertino.

Given the latest news from those who have access to the latest Surface Pro ultraportable and Surface Laptop computer, anyone familiar with Apple’s attitude to user upgrades and repairs will see an echo in Redmond’s hardware strategy.

A view of the new Microsoft Surface Laptop following a Microsoft launch event, May 2, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The latest teardowns from the team at iFixit show the inherent lack of repairability or even access to the internals of the Surface machines. In the case of 2017’s Surface Pro the one element that was potentially repairable from the Surface Pro 4 was the SSD. Not any more as the M.2 connector has been removed and the SSD is soldered to the main board.

The Surface Laptop is even more awkward for repairing. With no screws to remove, the only way in is through the fabric covered keyboard. It’s a destructive process to remove the heavily glued down material, and there’s not much to reward the explorer as the components of the laptop are fixed in place, soldered or taped down.

Microsoft’s designs are comparable to Apple’s latest machines. The iPad Pro also has a fascination with using glue to hold everything in place, and once more there’s little for a user to service once inside the tablet. As for the MacBook Pro it’s a veritable minefield with custom screws, soldered chips, and the danger of tying the on/off button to the secure TouchID circuitry which could require Apple’s help to reprogram if required.

When you look at Apple’s turnover of hardware as users upgrade to the latest specifications, the ability to generate ongoing revenue from its laptops, tablets and smartphones is not only a distinct fiscal advantage, but it ensures that consumers are kept as closely tied as possible to its various operating systems and cloud services.

A customer using a Microsoft Corp. Surface Pro tablet computer is reflected in a mirrored partition inside the company’s store in Sydney, Australia. Photographer: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg

The trend in modern hardware is to forego replaceable components and push consumers towards sealed units that require returning to the manufacturer for repair. You might as well forget about the idea of upgrading components to keep a machine up to spec over a five or six year lifespan. It’s clear from the construction and the move to annual upgrade cycles of its Pro hardware that Apple would rather you buy a new machine to get the faster processor or increased memory than pick up the components and switch them out yourself.

The latest Surface hardware releases signal that Microsoft is heading down the same road. If that’s the case expect the Pro and the Laptop models to pick up regular annual or biennial updates to stay abreast of the latest chip technology. No doubt Surface fans will be welcomed by the rest of the geekerati on the conveyor belt of upgrading computers and not components.

Now read more about Microsoft’s Surface Laptop…

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