What it is: Apple recently released an ad claiming the iPad Pro is more like a computer, but Microsoft released another ad claiming that the Surface Pro is more like a computer.
If you watch the above Microsoft ad, you can see that Microsoft compares the Surface Pro to the iPad Pro and mocks the iPad Pro for just having an external keyboard. Of course, even the first iPad had an optional keyboard from third-parties like Logitech, so external keyboards are nothing new. The difference is that the iPad Pro can include an Apple designed external physical keyboard.
Yet the main argument Microsoft makes in their ad is that the Surface Pro is more of a computer because it has external ports, an Intel processor, and can run desktop apps like Microsoft Office, which is supposedly better than Microsoft Office that runs on iOS. So essentially Microsoft is saying their Office for iOS software is inferior to Office for Windows.
The rest of the Microsoft ad assumes that computers must have external ports and run desktop apps like CAD programs. Yet what Microsoft fails to define is what is a computer? Their narrow definition is that a computer is something that looks and works like a laptop, which is fine for some people but others may not need that power.
So is a smartphone a computer? If so, then a tablet should also be a computer. Perhaps Cray, the makers of super computers, could run a similar ad mocking the Surface Pro for not being able to run astrophysicist calculations in less than an hour because the Intel processor in the Surface Pro is too slow. Therefore the Surface Pro is not a computer either because it can’t match the exact features of a Cray supercomputer.
The real question isn’t to narrowly define a computer in terms of hardware or features, but in what a device can do for the consumer. A smartphone is a computer and is actually more capable than many older MS-DOS and Windows 3.1 computers from the past. So does that mean a smartphone is a computer and all those old MS-DOS and Windows 3.1 machines really were not computers after all?
Obviously such a distinction is meaningless, and that’s the same pointlessness of Microsoft’s ad. Rather than try to define what a computer is, Microsoft should define what major advantages the Surface Pro offers that you can’t get from any other device.
Essentially the Surface Pro is an ultraportable laptop that doubles up as a tablet. It’s far more expensive than similar Windows laptops and far less expandable as well. Yet it’s still a computer in the same sense that an iPhone or an iPad is a computer. A computer is simply something that can perform certain tasks.
Whether an iPad Pro or a Surface Pro is right for you depends entirely on your needs. To suggest that an iPad Pro isn’t a computer is to restrict the definition of a computer to a narrow niche that embraces the old but completely ignores the new. An iPad Pro is a computer and not just because it has an optional keyboard but because it can perform useful tasks.
There is no perfect computer for everyone, so people should just choose the device that best matches their needs. To suggest that the Surface Pro is a computer but an iPad Pro is not is nothing short of deceptive. Microsoft should sell the world on the benefits of the Surface Pro. If they can’t do that, perhaps they should ask what’s the real benefits of an expensive laptop that can’t do anything more or better than a far less expensive laptop.