Tech-Friendly: Surface Pro 3 ad comparing it to MacBook Air is a joke

Paul Gorski
Paul Gorski

By Paul Gorski

Microsoft is running a television commercial for its Surface Pro 3 convertible tablet, comparing it to, and claiming it was better than, the Apple MacBook Air. The commercial is so bad it even highlights the weaknesses of the Surface Pro 3.

For my comparison and deconstruction of the commercial, I will compare the Surface Pro 3 to an Apple MacBook Air, each with a 1.7 GHz i7 processor, 256GB SSD storage device, and 8GB of RAM. The Surface Pro 3 retails for $1,549; the MacBook Air, as configured, retails for $1,349, a $200 savings. So much for Macs being more expensive than comparable PCs. Myth busted.

The commercial does not claim the Surface Pro 3 is less expensive, though, only as fast as the MacBook Air. Apple laptops typically outpace similarly equipped Windows laptops and have for a few years now. Without any quoted speed tests, Microsoft is probably basing its claim on the similar processor. So, without any supporting data, Microsoft is just guessing.

The next claim is that the Surface Pro and MacBook Air have similar expansion ports; this is simply false. Both devices have Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a USB expansion port. However, while the Surface Pro has a mini-display port for external video, the MacBook Air has a Thunderbolt port for: external video display, ultra fast drive connections and super fast wired network connections, among other uses. The MacBook Air’s Thunderbolt port serves a data exchange hub for all kinds of data connections.

Microsoft then touts a detachable keyboard. So, the keyboard is broken, and that is a feature? Really, a detachable keyboard simply means more connections that can break. Once the keyboard connection breaks, you just have a tablet. Mac laptop keyboards are the best in the business, so I would rather work a MacBook Air keyboard than a flimsy detachable keyboard.

Next up is the kickstand for the Surface Pro. The kickstand props up the tablet screen. The screen needs help standing up? Not sure why Microsoft highlights a weakness of the device, but heck, it is their commercial.

Last, and probably most importantly, the Surface Pro 3 runs Windows 8.1 Pro. Windows 8 is the second most derided operating system in 10 years. That top honor goes to Windows Vista. Windows 8 is so unpopular businesses are sticking with Windows XP, scrambling to buy Windows 7-based computers or just waiting for the Windows 10 release next year.

The Surface Pro 3 costs more than an equivalent MacBook Air, comes in parts and pieces, needs help standing up, and ships with Windows 8.1. The Surface Pro 3 cannot replace my laptop — I need my laptop for real work and to last a long time. Check out the MacBook Air and other Macs at

Paul Gorski ( has been a technology manager nearly 20 years, specializing in workflow solutions for printing, publishing and advertising computer users. Originally destined to be a chemist, his interest in computers began in college when he wrote a program to analyze data from lab instruments he hard-wired to the back of an Apple lle.

Posted Nov. 25, 2014

39 thoughts on “Tech-Friendly: Surface Pro 3 ad comparing it to MacBook Air is a joke

  • Nov 25, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Your mac fan bias is leaking thru all holes in your article.. Let me debunk your so called myths
    a) You are lying on price difference.. Macbook si $1449. Go here:
    b) Even if the thunder bolt port serves all data connections, so what? the commercial does not compare them both. Thunderbolt is STILL not a standard on all peripherals. Expect Apple to go in one direction and the entire industry in another direction.
    c) You call a detachable keyboard concept as “Broken” keyboard?? This analogy stinks of t-rex fart
    d) Again, kickstand is there so that Surafce can be used in dual use mode. Something the mac can never lay claim to. Try rotating the mac’s hinge beyond 180.
    d) What about touch screen/active digitizer Pen [for note taking], less weight [a true ultra portable], millions of windows desktop apps??.. I could go on and on..
    The only thing Mac beats surface is Battery life. Grow up and try to do a proper product review.

    • Dec 28, 2014 at 11:09 am

      Different flavors for different needs. As a Systems Integrator remaining unbiased is of utmost importance in providing adequate solutions to customer needs and expectations. This article denotes an absence of critical analysis and unbiased technical reporting. It’s more like a gossip column with no side-to-side specs comparisons/analysis. Based on this article I would never hire someone like you. You can have a hundreds of years in IT, but that does not mean much. The world is full of incompetent “professional” influencing and taking advantage of customers that are tech-rookies. Now more than ever remaining unbiased is of prime importance in order to seamlessly integrate the plethora of IoT & COTS products and services available.Open Architectures and Platforms is the wave of the future!

      BTW, I’m no rookie in this business. Just FYI, I have ample experience working with workflow solutions (among many other technologies and systems) for SMB to enterprises. I have designed, procured, deployed, and implemented well over $100M as a Systems Integrator/VAR/MSP in 10 years. I guess I should know what I’m writing about…

      Both devices are quality products with their cons and pros. Users preferences, needs/requirements, and lifestyles ($) greatly dictates which one is a better product. Besides, technology, like life itself is an ongoing change and challenge. Today’s product flaws and limitations will be addressed and corrected in the next product iteration… usually within a year!

      The time when MacBook’s ruled superior is over. The same applies to their iPhones. Apple knows this and it’s keeping ahead of the pack with new outstanding products way ahead of everyone else. I’m referring to their Mac Pro and the Apple Wristwatch!

      BTW, all companies’ products are old technology by the time they come to market. It takes 3-5yrs before a designed product is approved for marketing. There are stringent logistics and compliances required to be met… prototypes design (hardware/software/appearance), suppliers negotiations, safety and environmental issues, production line design/changes, distribution agreements/contracts, partnerships/alliances, marketing, standards… just to mention a few. So, for example, while Microsoft (or any other company) is working on unveiling new products, like Windows 10, they are already inventing Window 11 (or whatever they call it) and trying to integrate the new and latest technologies and standards being developed…

  • Nov 25, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    What a joke of a review. Watch you eat your words when apple announces a surface pro copy and advertises it as the newest thing since sliced bread.

  • Nov 25, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    The bias in this article is laughable. The only reason I finished the terrible review was to write a comment with knowledge of ever one sided word. I am not sure how this ever made the front page of google news.

    • Nov 27, 2014 at 7:02 am

      Agree. What a terrible review!

  • Nov 25, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    What an apple fan boy joke of a review…thunderbolt?.. just keep stomping your hands and feet expecting the world to change to suit Cupertino’s quirks.

  • Nov 25, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    The butthurt is strong in this one.

  • Nov 25, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    “Apple laptops typically outpace similarly equipped Windows laptops and have for a few years now.”

    This statement is contested at best. Comparisons are difficult and often say more about drivers/software support/hardware than the operating systems themselves.

    For modern users the most relevant benchmark is browser performance. Tom’s Hardware did an extensive set of tests:,3108-18.html

    They conclude “So, Redmond wins yet another Mac versus PC Web Browser Grand Prix, this time on a mobile system (and a brand new Core i7-based MacBook, to boot). Ouch.”.

    PCmag, another reputable source, did a more all-around set of tests:

    These results also lean in Windows favor.

    Result from across the web tell a mixed story. OSX tends to win file transfer and startup/shutdown (at least vs win 7:, Windows wins browser benchmarks and GPU bound synthetic benchmarks (gaming).

    So, next time you claim OSX outpaces windows please at least cite a source.

    (This is my first angry post on the internet, am I officially a fan boy now? Do I get a free shirt or something?)

  • Nov 25, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Are you trolling? You must be trolling. The keyboard is not broken if it works as designed. What tablet stands upright without support? The kickstand is a great solution. Why would you review a device you’ve never touched? Why do you write things at all?

  • Nov 25, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    How much did apple pay you to write this?

  • Nov 25, 2014 at 8:57 pm


    Yes, thank you, I usually only get pro Mac responders.

    First, the article is about the ad, and yes, the ad is joke. It isn’t a product review per se, but a reflection on off Microsoft’s marketing is.
    Mostly because no one considering a MacBook Air will be be comparing it to a Surface Pro 3. They might compare it to a ChromeBook or another thin laptop. The folks who are looking at the MacBook Air probably already have an iPad.

    Second, I stand by my pricing quote. Take an 11″ MacBook Air with a 256 GB SSD and upgrade the processor to i7 and the RAM to 8 GB and the price is $1349. I price Apple products all the time, I got this one.

    Third, the broken keyboard was a reference to its detachability, which in my eyes is a drawback. And it does work as designed, which is to say, I still wouldn’t find it useable on a daily basis. Now you could probably pair a decent Wi-Fi keyboard with the Surface Pro 3 and that would make more sense to me.

    My other articles, pro Window 8.1 and anti- Mac OS X 10.10 obviously didn’t hit the Google news pages. But then again, Google news is the bain of real news anyway. Trash Chrome, use Firefox, and ditch Google search for DuckDuckGo.

    Take care and thanks for reading.
    Paul Gorski

    • Nov 26, 2014 at 12:36 pm

      The Surface should not be compared with the 11″ MBA, Paul. That’s a serious flaw in your comparison.

      The screen is only ~4% smaller area than the 13″ MBA due to the 3:2 aspect ratio. Cost is a non-issue.

  • Nov 25, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    To the irate readers,

    If it is any consolation, I wrote the article using Word via
    No Google Docs or iCloud for me.

    Thank you again for reading The Rock River Times.

    Paul Gorski

    • Nov 26, 2014 at 7:04 pm

      How many clicks did u get and how what’s your cut? quick….

  • Nov 25, 2014 at 11:55 pm

    After reading this, I had to check and see if this was written on April first. The lack of logic, honesty, and sanity was outstanding in its breadth. I don’t think I could write a bigger pack of selective half-truths, downright lies, and cherry-picked facts if I tried. Somebody needs to pull the soapbox out from under this guy. He gives journalism and the internet a very bad name.

  • Nov 26, 2014 at 1:59 am

    I was comparing the Surface Pro and the Mac Air recently and it came down to money. The hybrids are the wave of the future but a lot of people, like me, want to save a couple grand for essentially the same functionality and many similar features. The prices need to come down on the Surface Pro and others of its ilk because they’re appealing to buyers who can’t burn an extra 5 grand or so.

  • Nov 26, 2014 at 5:14 am

    Is this a joke? Ok, I get it. You are an Apple fanboy.

  • Nov 26, 2014 at 8:01 am

    I was debating whether I should waste my time and comment on such a joke of an article, but then I noticed that not even a single comment complimented you on your article, or agreed with you on your so called comparison. I could no longer hold myself. Not even a single Apple fan boy was willing to risk siding which such a farce of an article. How can you expect anyone to take such a comparison seriously when your blind bias is so obvious right off the bat? I’m not an Apple fan, nor am I a Microsoft fan, but I was hoping this article would give me some guidance on my purchase since I’m in the market for a lightweight laptop. It proved to be such a waste of time, it forced me to spend more time to write this comment to compensate for the initial loss.
    But honestly, I’m eager to know. Did someone pay you to write this article? Or did you just decide on your own to make a fool of yourself?? Such garbage should not be published, and if this is what comes out of 20 years of expertise, then I think you should have stuck to chemistry.

  • Nov 26, 2014 at 8:03 am

    This has got to be one of the worst rant articles on SP3 I’ve come across. Some of the points are misguided and flat out wrong, as other commenters rightfully pointed out. The Ad works because it has seem to blow up with Apple Fanboys and has the rest of the country noticing. And the most important feature that is hard to beat is the SP3 convenient factor. This holiday season is going to be good for Microsoft

  • Nov 26, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Bias much? How much did Apple pay you to write such crap? You should probably look for a job that you can actually do…

  • Nov 26, 2014 at 10:48 am

    How does this crap get published. Are we running out of good content? Somebody should be fired.

  • Nov 26, 2014 at 11:07 am

    That was a truly awful piece of writing.

  • Nov 26, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    The ONE thing Apple could do to produce a better machine would be to copy the Surface Pro 3. It would have all the advantages of the Surface Pro 3, run OSX, and be able to dual boot in Windows. This way, you could use it for development for both Windows and Mac and as a tablet test bed for both. Other than that, I agree that this is a fairly bias review and did leave out the touch screen and pen, 2 of the strongest advantages.

  • Nov 26, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Hi, the guy who posted this article seems like has lost his mind. Or because he was in 2 minds so he went ahead to step up for the fruit icon based company. Can’t believe he has 20 years experience or 20 years of s___.

  • Nov 26, 2014 at 4:37 pm


    I won’t bang on about fanboys, macs, apple etc. All I will say is, you should try one of these out for a week or two. They’re really great. And frankly I hate Microsoft.

  • Nov 26, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    Personally I have a MacBook Air and I am selling it and getting a Surface Pro 3. I used to love Apple Apple products and still think they are pretty but other companies are finally catching up and surpassing in creating quality products. However Apple tends to be more expensive with fewer of the features I want. Replacing one key on my Air will cost $300 USD (I was quoted this by the local Apple Rep in my my country) and when my iPad had trouble it was also an arm, leg and some toes to replace and repair.I know everyone won’t have the same experience but I think think many would agree Apple doesn’t seem to be as innovative as it used to be. Personally, I like thwould agree Apple doesn’t seem to be as innovative as it used to be. Personally, I like the fact the keyboard is detachable. And the kickstand is genius and in tablet mode should be compared to the iPad (which lacks a stylus AND kickstand) .

  • Nov 27, 2014 at 12:21 am

    This is a totally biased article against Microsoft. I see no substance in the writing but the all too transparent bias. Authors like Paul sometimes forget the one very important fact:readers out there can make their own conclusions.

  • Nov 27, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    The article is probably click bait but I thought I had to respond. You are obviously a diehard apple fan, and when they come out with something similar you will claim that it is only worthwhile because Apple has ‘perfected’ what others did in a flawed way.

    The thing about the Surface Pro 3 is that it changes the way you work rather than replaces what you use now. I am using my Pro 3 now on the couch, and in a few minutes will use it to review a document with the pen. I will then either use the keyboard or dock it to do the actual edits. Once done with that I will do some power Excel modelling for another project, docked. I also have some forms from my accountant to fill out some time today for which I will use the pen and return directly without printing. Periodically throughout the day I will switch between the desk, table and couch for a change and depending on the task and my mood, but my workflow will not be interrupted as it is all in the same place and self contained. Later on tonight I will be watching a movie on it and web browsing. The only thing I can suggest is that you try it, because this is the future of our devices.

  • Nov 29, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Most of you commenters are clueless and succumb to the same fanboyish (for Windows) that Paul exhibits for Apple. Yes, he prefers Apple products to Windows products. That was already established in previous articles if you would care to do your research. He actually writes an article that states that Apple products are better.

    Second, the whole article is summed up in the title, the ad that the Surface Pro 3 is compared to an Apple laptop is ludicrous at best. Why didn’t Microsoft compare the Surface Pro 3 to ANY Windows laptop? Because that would piss off their hardware partners, so they decided to compare to the Macbook Air.

    When I first saw the commercial, I thought what a stupid thing to do. I know that they are trying to show that the Surface Pro 3 can replace the laptop, but why would someone want to? If you are really doing serious work, ANY tablet will not be good enough. Yes the tablet can do some things like edit a presentation, edit a report etc, but to try to create a large report, it is hard to do at best. Touch screens are hard to work with to select multiple items, move things around etc. Try typing a 5,000 work article/report etc on the flimsy keyboard on the Surface Pro 3. You wouldn’t get very far before looking for a physical keyboard or a different device to type on.

    On another note, one commenter said that how Apples run better are contested at best. You can quote any articles, tests, comparisons, benchmarks you want, but those can be swayed anyway you want to go with them. I prefer to use real world experience to tell me which one is the best.

    I recently moved over to Apple after many years using Windows. My experience has been that Apple outpaces Windows on so many levels it is not even close. Why would that be? Lets look at the evolution of Apple and Windows OS’s.

    Apple made a couple of strategic moves a couple of times over the past 25 years. Apple told developers that if they continue to use undocumented API’s, their programs would be in trouble. When they released System 7.5, a lot of smaller programmers had trouble because they didn’t use Apple’s guidelines in programming. They didn’t pay attention to the updated API’s and that broke some programs. Why would Apple do that? Because the evolution of the OS needed to retire old non efficient API’s to continue to move forward. They got rid of problems by removing the bad stuff instead of trying to patch everything. This resulted in cleaner/more efficient/more secure code.

    Microsoft on the other hand, tried real hard not to piss anyone off, so they have a lot of code still there from DOS/Windows 95.They didn’t clean up a lot of unsecure code, but just worked on patching code that should have been retired. This results in bloated/not secure/bad code which is patched monthly at best. So Apple has a leg up on how well OSX runs vs Windows 7. Windows 8 is another example of a bad idea. Trying to take mobile code and apply it to a desktop/laptop computer is stupid (in my opinion) at best. Why would Microsoft do this? Best answer is money. They are trying to combine Windows into one code that works on Desktops/Laptops/Tablets/Phones. That way, they only have one team instead of two to maintain the code base. Less programmers means less outgo for salaries, which in turn means more profit. I am not against profit for companies, but a bad idea is a bad idea.

    Returning to my migration, I moved to an Apple Macbook Pro early this year. I did it to take a programming course at college. Yes I paid a lot for the Macbook, but it is worth it. The Retina display is easier on my older eyes, the speed of the Macbook Pro vastly outpaced my Windows desktop machine which has a faster processor than the Macbook. I did a comparison on a couple of programming IDE’s (Eclipse and Android Studio) and both started up and was ready for input in less than 1/2 the time it took them to boot up on the Windows Desktop.

    A couple of months later, I got an iPad Air to replace my Transformer Prime. The speed and consistency of the iPad was so much better it was not even close. Large programs ran so much faster with less stutter, it was like night and day. The display was so much nicer and cleaner when I was using it to read books, my eyes thanked me for it.

    The next item was my Mac Mini to replace my desktop computer. Again I was rewarded with a faster/cleaner experience, less crashes, less restarts and less frustration. The Mac is just a better experience.

    The last thing to get replaced was my Galaxy Nexus. I replaced it with the iPhone 6 Plus. This took longer because I looked good and hard, comparing the 6 Plus with the Motorola Turbo and the Nexus 6. What finally put my over the edge was 2 things. One was that the iPhone 6 has a 64bit processor, while the other 2 still are stuck at 32bit processing, and two, I didn’t appreciate Google dropping support of a Nexus product in less than 2 years after release. This was unheard of at the time. Apple still updated the iPhone 4s which is 3 months older than the Galaxy Nexus to iOS 8. This shows me that Apple still is invested in the consumer, after 3 years. No other Android manufacturer can make that claim including Google.

    Some of you will point out that Apple is a walled garden for the iPhone. Yes, that is true. But I do use my iPhone for work and have it get work emails, and as a part of that, I cannot jailbreak the iPhone or use custom ROM’s on my Android phone. That is a security risk for our company and I am happy to comply with that. I am also happy to know that my iPhone is more secure than almost every other phone out there. Blackberry might have better security, but my company no longer supports Blackberry and no longer maintains a Blackberry server. So it is the most secure phone that my company supports.

    Yes I am a fan of Apple Products. Which phone/computer to use is a personal choice, and if your choice is to use Windows/Linux/Android, good for you. I will not think less of you, or bash your choice. In my world, Apple is better. In your world, something else might be better. That is why we all have choices.

  • Nov 29, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    Despite being a Surface Pro user, I actually agree with Paul’s view that the Macbook Air is a better deal than a Surface Pro 3, IF the only thing you use it for is a laptop. With the cost of the keyboard the 256 Gb SP3 is indeed a hefty investment. I bought the very first Surface Pro when it first came out, and I am holding out for the Surface Pro 4.

    But many tech users like Paul, who probably never owns a Surface Pro themselves, have little idea what they are missing out on. I had a Macbook Air before I switched to the Surface Pro, and while I had fond memories of how smooth OS X was on the Air, the Surface Pro with Windows 8.1 is unexpectedly refined. All the frustrations I could remember from the days of Win XP and Vista are all but history. You must experience the Wind 8 touch interface before you can fully understand how central it is to the Surface Pro model of personal computing.

    If I am to predict the future, the age of laptops in my opinion is ending. When I go to the coffee shops and see people typing on their clamshell laptops, I wonder if they even know what their next computer will look like. While the Macbook users still parade their Apple laptops as if they are on the leading edge, many of the Windows laptop users are looking to change, and the only question is what their next computer will be. Is it a Surface Pro or another hybrid, or will they go to a Macbook? But very soon, even the Macbook users will realize the laptop form factor is already dying. Will the iPad be ready to take the place their Apple laptops for productivity? If laptop sales this black Friday is any prediction of the future, insisting on perpetuating the divide between laptops and touch may be Apple’s biggest blunder ever.

  • Dec 4, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    I got a Surface Pro 3 for my boss. The keyboard is garbage. The whole thing barely functions as useable for anything. My boss wanted it because “it’s a tablet and a PC”, but it turns out to be the worst of both worlds.

  • Dec 20, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Article is spot on. We tested a Surface3 few months back, only just finished laughing (all I can say about Win8 is wow!). The keyboard would be a joke ona $200 chinese laptop, real world battery life is VERY poor, and like I said the OS is maybe the biggest joke in tech right now. The large number of pro MS ‘apple fanboy’ bleats, really just confirms just how scared and full of butthurt MS and their army of shillboys really are right now. You see practically the same comments posted on xboner, windows phone and probably zune articles if you look back far enough lol.

  • Dec 25, 2014 at 9:36 am

    I think the Surgace Pro 3 is a very good product. Well-made, good quality screen I don’t see why it doesn’t replace an laptop? I think it is and it does very well. MacBooks are fantastic for sure too. I’d give my old Dell crap and get a MS Surface Pro 3 in a heartbeat. For me there are two things that I consider to be very important. Mobility and Highres screen. We spend ours staring at devices so it is clear for me they have to have Highres screens. It is a MUST.

    Windows 8 is indeed horrible! Period. But it can be easily fix with Windkws 10. Apple will have to respond to every Microsoft move that is why a larger iPad version of rumors are to be believed is under way. Microsoft is getting closer and closer no doubt.

  • Dec 28, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    Bruno (and all posters),

    Thank you for your comments. The main point of my articles on this topic is not that the SP3 is a bad product, rather, that the commercials for the product are poorly targeted. Macbook Air customers will not be interested in the SP3.

    If you have an SP3 and like it, great. Good for you. If it is the right tool for you, even better, but the SP3 ad campaign is questionable, and I am not alone in that opinion.


    Regarding Windows 10 “fixing” Windows 8; I haven’t seen it in the preview version of Windows 10. Windows 10 looks and feel much like Windows 8.1 at this point. That may change.

    Read my article regarding Window 10 Technical Preview at:

    Thank you all for contributing to the conversation.


    Paul Gorski

  • Dec 29, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    This article screams fanboy so much it isn’t even funny (ok it deserves a lol). Not much imperial evidence that wins the argument either way.

  • Jan 1, 2015 at 10:45 am

    Holy crap, this is one of the worst articles comparing products I have ever read.

  • Jan 27, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    What it all comes down to for me is Windows vs OS X and, hands down, the winner is OS X. I’ve been an IT professional since 1982 and have come to detest Windows. My MacBook is over three years old and is fast as the day I got it. I’ve never had a Windows PC I could say that about.

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