Microsoft has finally revealed the new Surface Laptop 4, but with the lack of a redesign and some underwhelming spec upgrades, I can’t help but think that Microsoft is making the same mistakes as the MacBooks of old.
Before Apple Silicon came along, MacBooks were arguably pretty bland. The MacBook Air hasn’t seen a physical redesign since 2018, while Apple’s insistence on sticking to a rigid launch cycle meant MacBook specs were often out of date compared to the competition.
Compare this to the likes of Dell and Lenovo, both of which launch new and exciting designs every year, while also equipping their systems with cutting-edge internals as soon as AMD and Intel launch new generations of mobile CPUs.
Of course, Apple hardly suffered since it maintained healthy sales figures thanks to brand loyalty and a fandom for macOS over Windows. But the emergence of Apple Silicon is a big indicator that Apple wasn’t completely satisfied with the sales performance of its MacBook range.
With the launch of the Surface Laptop 4, Microsoft is showing signs of complacency similar to Apple. Yes, Microsoft can lean heavily on brand loyalty to keep flogging the Surface Laptop 4, but it’s pushing its luck if it thinks it can fight back competition from Apple, Dell, Lenovo and more without a significant upgrade.
The Surface Laptop 4 features an outdated, chunky bezel that looks downright ugly next to the Dell XPS 13. Its decision to stick older Ryzen 4000 processors inside the entry-level laptop instead of the more modern Ryzen 5000 chips is also a bizarre decision. Microsoft is also only offering 256GB of storage for the £999 model, putting it at the same price point as the MacBook Air, despite Apple’s laptop offering more impressive specs.
Apple was able to keep MacBook fans on side with macOS, luring over those who weren’t fond of Windows. The Surface Laptop 4 uses the exact same software as other Windows 10 laptops, so Microsoft isn’t afforded such pulling power. And then there’s the omission of Thunderbolt support too, as Microsoft continues to snub the technology in favour of its own Surface Connect port.
As things stand, I’m not sure why anyone would want to buy a Surface Laptop 4 over its rivals. I’ve admittedly yet to review the laptop, but judging from the specs sheet and official announcement, there’s nothing noteworthy to make it stand out in a crowded ultrabook market.
Apple made drastic changes to get the MacBook out of the pit of mediocrity, but with Microsoft unlikely to introduce its own processor anytime soon, I’m unconvinced the company has a similar ace up its sleeve to seriously challenge Apple and company.
The new Surface Laptop 4 didn’t need a complete overhaul, but a smaller bezel would have at least ensured Microsoft was keeping up with the competition. As things stand, Microsoft’s strategy reeks of complacency, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Surface Laptop 4 flop as a result.