Tech-Friendly: Surface Pro 3 ad comparing it to MacBook Air is a joke, part 2

Paul Gorski
Paul Gorski

By Paul Gorski

This is a follow-up article to my post: “Surface Pro 3 ad comparing it to a MacBook Air is a joke,” posted Nov. 25 (!442&app=Word). That article hit Google News, and seemed to upset many Microsoft Surface Pro 3 fans. To clarify, that article was commenting on a television advertisement for the Surface Pro 3, not a full-blown review. I will review again why the ad is laughable, and I will comment on the specifications on the Surface Pro 3.

There are at least two ads, but I will refer to them as one. The ad in question compares a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (SP3) to a Apple MacBook Air (MBA) in an apparent attempt to get to MacBook Air customers to buy an SP3. The first error in this marketing strategy is that people looking at MacBook Airs are either existing Mac users, comfortable with the Mac OS, or people switching to the Mac OS, not because of the hardware, but because of Windows 8.

There are other potential customers looking at Chromebooks. One would hope someone has explained to these customers that the MacBook Air and Surface Pro 3 are real computers, not simple Internet browsers. An SP3 would be a better choice than a Chromebook.

The second marketing error is that Mac users like simple solutions; that is why they are looking at Macs. The SP3 kickstand is a liability to these users. The removable keyboard, not only a poor substitute for an MBA keyboard, is also a liability to these users. These two “features” are highlighted in the commercial, and scream “I’m not as well integrated as a MacBook Pro!”

The third error is a factual one: the SP3 cannot do everything a MacBook Air can. The SP3 does not have a Thunderbolt expansion port allowing to connect to not only video devices, but all sorts of expansion products. Also, the SP3 does not ship with Apple’s Pages, Numbers and Keynote apps. Personally, I think Keynote rocks and is superior to Microsoft’s PowerPoint, but I am not a big fan of Pages. That said, the MacBook Air cannot run many Windows programs, like MS Access or a real version of QuickBooks, without adding Windows to your Mac.

It is for these reasons the SP3 ad is a joke. Microsoft is trying to prevent Windows switchers from jumping ship to the Mac OS by flaunting hardware in front of these prospective users, rather than addressing the benefits of staying with Windows.

Microsoft should really be worried about Chromebooks and the Chrome OS cutting into Microsoft profit margins. Fortunately, HP has come out with a solid Windows 8.1-based competitor to Chromebooks, the HP Stream ( The HP Stream computers are not for everyone, but Windows users looking for something more than a Chromebook or a circa-2011 netbook might want to look at an HP Stream.

Back to the Surface Pro 3. The strength of the SP3 is that it can be a tablet running a full-blown operating system, capable of getting real work done. Not a poorly crafted Samsung tablet running one of a half dozen flavors of Android. The SP3 also has a great screen. I would also heavily advertise free upgrades to Windows 10 for all SP3 customers. They do not have to know most users will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 free anyway.

Tablet sales are taking a dive and PC sales are weak. Microsoft sees positive MacBook Air sales numbers and wants to target those customers. That is just poor marketing. There is still a huge market for folks replacing Windows XP computers and for people wanting more than a simple tablet. That is the market Microsoft needs to target.

Personally, I am in the market for a used laptop with a decent, center-positioned track pad that will run Linux Mint. Probably a MacBook Pro. Read my most recent article regarding Linux Mint 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 Dec. 2, 2014

21 thoughts on “Tech-Friendly: Surface Pro 3 ad comparing it to MacBook Air is a joke, part 2

  • Dec 2, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    MMM… nope.

    Yes, the mac air is the center of the joke, but the real target are Microsoft OEM’s (although is funny see how cringe the apple fanboys, just look at the comments at this site

    What Microsoft is mocking is not the mac air per se, is the old school laptop, but they can’t attack directly their partners and compare the SP3 against a Lenovo or HP laptop, so they choose the mac ai.
    Also there is the demographics of high end laptops (ie. high markups) and that is out of league of the chromebooks that are marketed as cheap uncomplicated devices (except the $1000+ google pixel but is regarded as a flop, that even the google executives didn’t use)

    The target of SP3 are not people that want a simple solution, the people that want a SP3 are people that make a living working on cad drawings, digital photography, graphic design, engineering, healthcare and have high mobility or travel a lot and want a powerful device that is lightweight and well constructed.

    The weakness that you point are typical of people that never have used it, this remind me of people that say that the Porsche 911 are heavy tail because the rear engine, but actually never have drived one.

    The SP3 really shine when you travel and only have to carry the tablet with the cover and one charger, you really notice the weight difference. Or when you use the digitizer (not stylus) with photoshop with the kickstand fully extended, or when in your room you want to watch a movie and just fold back the cover and extend the kickstand and rest in your belly.

  • Dec 2, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    I agree with Teral…. SP3 a powerful full package and handy for my use and for my work… For my kids to play and learn things I use ipad and mac products… Mac is a fancy toy for entertainment…

    • Dec 3, 2014 at 6:44 am

      Teral hit it on the head. My wife has a MacBook air, hates it, I’ve been an avid Mac user since 08. I got a SP3 two months ago for work. She loves it, thinks windows 8.1 with the touch screen is way better then OS X. It comes down to preference, but like Teral said, Microsoft can’t go directly at its hardware partners. SP3 is better then te Lenovo Yoga 2, 2pros and 3, all of which I have played with. We’ve rolled out a dozen SP3’s at work and everyone loves it, I’ve not had one complaint on windows 8.1 from over 70 users who all run it on a touchscreen device.

  • Dec 2, 2014 at 11:54 pm


    Thank you for posting your comments, but since i support graphics artists and designers, not one of them would purchase or order a SP3 for graphic design work. They might order a Macbook Air, but only because using the Thunderbolt port it can be connected to an Apple display that also serves as a hub for Thunderbolt, USB, Ethernet and more ports. Serious, full-time designers wouldn’t use the stylus with a SP3; they would use a Wacom tablet, Cintiq or similar.

    Again, thank you for posting your comments.

    Paul Gorski

    • Dec 3, 2014 at 11:22 am

      I can’t say I agree with that. I’ve been a professional 3D artist for the past 5 years now, and use Wacom tablets daily. Have used a Cintiq in the past. I’m aware Wacom has a similar full OS tablet now, but after testing each device, I would drop money on the SP3 in a heartbeat over any other option, primarily due to the versatility of the thing. Can effectively replace my laptop, tablet, desktop (with dock), and Wacom tablet with one fell swoop. No point spending extra money on things when I can have one that does everything I need.

    • Dec 5, 2014 at 1:47 am

      ” but since i support graphics artists and designers, not one of them would purchase or order a SP3 for graphic design work (sic) Serious, full-time designers wouldn’t use the stylus with a SP3; they would use a Wacom tablet, Cintiq or similar.”

      (insert tom cruise laughing meme.gif here)

      You are funny man, nothing to comment here, Jordan comment is spot on.

      You say that your article is about advertising, but you make wrong, poorly informed/researched comparisons outside the scope of what advertising is, so if you want some credibility as “tech journalist” start to do your homework and research well your articles.

    • Dec 5, 2014 at 1:53 am

      I forgot, IS DIGITIZER, not stylus, DIGITIZER.

      Stylus is a dumb device to help with fat fingers.

      Digitizer is a precision device that have sensor for exact position and pressure to render real life brush or pen strokes.

  • Dec 3, 2014 at 1:02 am

    I’ll be straight and to the point. Surface Pro 3 is the best there is. This is from experience, and from other people I’ve talked to. I’ve had the surface for 3 from the fist day it was released and it is straight forward awesome. People complain about the OS, but come on, people complained about windows 98 when it first came out because of it’s complexity. I got used to it, its been almost 2 years for crying out loud. The iOS is boring, still kindergarten (no wonder mainly kids use it), and kinda bubbley. And I don’t think it is our place to say whether or not it was a not so good thing that Microsoft is comparing the SP3 to the MacBook air. Let the shelves speak for themselves. It’s working for Microsoft, they got people to buy their product. Looks like they have some good sales teams out in Redmond.

  • Dec 3, 2014 at 7:43 am

    ” SP3 cannot do everything a MacBook Air can. The SP3 does not have a Thunderbolt expansion port allowing to connect to not only video devices, but all sorts of expansion products. Also, the SP3 does not ship with Apple’s Pages, Numbers and Keynote apps.”

    what? why does this person even become an author.the dumbest opinion ever

    • Dec 3, 2014 at 1:50 pm

      I know right? Who in the world needs those uselsess, crappy numbers pages things from apple? I go to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and everyone there uses Microsoft Office. People with ipads and Macs use office. Why? Because when they submit their 15 research papers to the professor in those apple formats, he can’t open them and deducts you that 20% of your final grade. Why? Because it is your responsibility to submit a “working” assignment. The author is digging his own grave here.

  • Dec 3, 2014 at 9:23 am

    I also agree with Feral. I use my SP3 all of the time. At work and at play. The keyboard is not a liability at all. I regular switch between keyboard / trackpad in the context of a desktop or website / web app. In public transit, while standing, I simply flip the keyboard back and use it as a reading device. At home, I use miracast to project my TV shows onto a big screen projector. And, oh yeah. I get 9-10 hours of battery life.

    An apple device could never dream of doing these things seamlessly.

  • Dec 3, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    What I find hilarious about this article, other than its obvious lack of substance, is the fact that it is the exact opposite of the argument we always heard from Windows users back was a Mac was a Mac (e.g. Power PC processor).

  • Dec 3, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    To some of the readers,

    Again, the article is about the ADVERTISEMENT.
    But the plain truth is the SP3 cannot do everything a Macbook Air can do, nor can the Macbook Air do everything a SP3 do. Not sure how you can argue that, but go ahead.

    I am also not saying that folks cannot get work done on an SP3, it is just folks looking at Macbook Airs are not going to compare them to an SP3. It is not the same market.

    Folks pick on Mac fans, but many of your comments show an even stronger bias towards your OS and hardware than most Mac fans. Mac fans do not know that much about their hardware.

    When it does come to hardware though, keyboards and trackpads must be an odd personal preference. The Macbook Air keyboard and trackpad rocks, where the SP3 keyboard and trackpad, while better than a Chromebook and many other laptops, doesn’t come close the responsiveness of the Macbook Air.

    Tu audelk,

    Apple get awards, some undeservedly, nearly every year for cool gadgets. I’m glad Microsoft finally made the list. The last time it did was with the Xbox so many years ago.

    Take care, and thanks for commenting. Really.

    Paul Gorski

  • Dec 3, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    The keyboard and the stand scream “I’m not as well integrated as a MacBook Pro”. Seriously. Just seriously. Take your iBuds out of your ears and listen to yourself. If it’s not abundantly clear, these issues allow for greater flexibility than a traditional laptop while still allowing you to do all the stuff you can do on a MacBook Air(traditional laptop). The fact that the keyboard on the Surface is not as good as the MacBook Pro’s keyboard does not mean that it’s bad. In fact, it’s quite good (this coming from an actual user). And while it’s true, you can’t run the Mac office suite on it, only the most facile among us would really make a decision based on PowerPoint vs. Keynote. Face it, a good advertisement focuses on its products strengths, not it’s weaknesses (perceived or otherwise). I have a feeling that if Apple did the reverse, you’d be standing on your chair applauding as they cherry-picked features and ignored the features they don’t match. Rather than do a part 3, just subtitle your articles “A Mac Fanboy’s Response”, and all of this will make perfect sense.

    • Dec 5, 2014 at 9:24 am

      Apple did this a long time ago with uhh…. Justin Long (as the Mac) and some short fat nerdy old guy (as the PC) it was directly focused on windows.

  • Dec 3, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Your explanation of ‘marketing errors’ does not make sense. I will make this simple, customer chooses A or B. You claim its because they love A already and so choose A . Or you state they choose A because they hate B. later in article you mention how A is vastly superior, and state that B should only compete with another weak product C. Your point is that no matter what, A (ie, MacBook Air) is going to be the superior choice. what this is , this is a marketing campaign for A . Your piece clearly shows that the best marketing strategy for B, is to go directly versus A. B should not need to waste resources campaigning versus C.

  • Dec 5, 2014 at 9:20 am

    It is the same market. That market being someone looking for portability and style. Plain and simple mac has become a fashion accessory, it’s the Beats of the laptop realm.

    I use both systems regularly, PC for games and general stuff, macbook pro for my music. Do I have to? Not really, I can do it all on my PC but I got the macbook for a hell of a good deal when I was about to build a secondary machine for music (keeping the 2 worlds separate (for me))

  • Dec 5, 2014 at 10:06 am

    This line is utterly ridiculous:

    “The third error is a factual one: the SP3 cannot do everything a MacBook Air can. The SP3 does not have a Thunderbolt expansion port allowing to connect to not only video devices, but all sorts of expansion products. Also, the SP3 does not ship with Apple’s Pages, Numbers and Keynote apps.”

    1. Miracast does video connection with no wires, flawlessly. The Mini AV port built into the SP3 does video connection, flawlessly, to literally any kind of display. USB 3.0 built in allows connection to literally any peripheral. The charging port on the SP3 is literally a data point connection for the dock, which integrates HDMI, multiple USB ports, hard wire cat 6, audio, etc.

    No one outside of Mac diehards uses Pages or anything of the like for literally anything in the business work. MS Office is the ubiquitous productivity suite in business and education.

    Your observations are factually incorrect and represent the worst part of the tech review community – biased reviewing and discussing of products you are not familiar with.

  • Dec 5, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Also, N-Trig is used by many folks within graphic design. It is apparent you have simply not tried Creative Cloud optimized for touch input. Point of fact – I am sitting next to a graphic designer using his SP3 .. using the stylus… hooked up to a display (Without even using the dock, gasp!).

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