Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

E15: Bots, Windows 10 Surface Book review, Twitter Head of Product

Last weekend Danny and I sat down and discussed our current experience with bots, the progress I’ve made on my still forthcoming Windows 10 and Surface Book review and also Twitter’s new Head of Product hire.


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How Surface changed Microsoft

Jason Ward, writing for Windows Central:

Windows devices once perceived as low-end bargain basement devices are now seen as expensive cutting-edge hardware that rivals or exceeds Apple’s long-standing high-end market position.

I make this same point in my forthcoming review of the Surface Book and Windows 10. I’m so sorry it is taking so long to finish up this review. I didn’t want the review to be based only on first impressions but rather real world every day use.

A tablet and a notebook in one

John Gruber:

To me, an iPad in notebook mode — connected to a keyboard cover — is so much less nice than a real notebook. And the difference is more stark when compared to a great notebook, like these MacBook Pros. There are advantages to the tablet form factor, but no tablet will ever be as nice as a notebook as these MacBook Pros. I also prefer MacOS over iOS for, well, “doing work”. I think I’m more productive on a Mac than I am on an iPad. I can’t prove it, but even if I’m wrong, the fact that I feel like it’s true matters. I always feel slightly hamstrung working on an iPad. I never do on a Mac (at least once I’ve got it configured with all the apps and little shortcuts, scripts, and utilities I use).

I totally agree with John. An iPad does not feel as nice as a MacBook. I’ve owned both devices and used them both daily for years. And I, like him, feel much less productive on an iPad than on a notebook computer like the MacBook. I used my iPad for reading, watching videos, and doing light work-related tasks like note taking at a client meeting. But for real work I grabbed my MacBook and, preferably, connected it to a display.

But what if you could have both? What if you could have both a tablet and a notebook in one? And what if all of the work that you do on the notebook could be possible on the tablet? I’ll be writing much more about my experiences with the new Surface Book with Performance Base in the coming weeks (I have only had mine three days and I want to get a little more comfortable with it prior to a proper review) but I can say this – without hesitation – the Surface Book is the marriage of the iPad and the MacBook and I’m loving it.

I read John’s post with the Clipboard portion (read: the display) of the Surface Book and was compelled to write this post. So I docked the display on the keyboard and began typing. Not because I couldn’t have used the on-screen keyboard, but more because I’m much quicker with a full computer. I have all of my shortcuts and customizations. The small little things that make more far more productive.

And, let’s not forget the actual reason John gave for feeling “hamstrung” while using the iPad – it is the software. The operating system. With my new Surface Book I’m running Windows 10 in desktop mode when docked to the Performance Base and in tablet mode when detached from it. But, in both situations I have my data, my customization, my small tweaks, my multitasking capabilities, etc. It truly is the best of both worlds.

I’ve long written on this blog that I believe Microsoft’s vision of one operating system for both contexts is better than Apple’s two-OS approach. John disagrees with me on this. And I don’t know that there is a right or wrong answer but there certainly is a preference. My preference is to keep my “power user” stuff at my fingertips for when I need them but to hide them when I don’t. The Surface Book does this.

I’m truly enjoying this device and I’m very much looking forward to sharing more about my switch back from the Mac to Windows 10. But for now I’m going to detach my display and get back to watching YouTube videos on my couch.

E13: Switching to Windows 10 and the Surface Book, and pre-orders

Danny and I have a Saturday morning conversation about my purchase of the new Microsoft Surface Book with Performance Base and switching from macOS to Windows 10.


Thanks to Danny for the early wakeup.

I edited this MP3 and published this post on Windows 10. Yay!

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Surface Book reviews

I’m keeping an extremely close eye on all things Microsoft lately. I’ve even stated, publicly, that I think if they continue on their current course they are going to be beating Apple on several fronts within half a decade.

One product out of Redmond I’m watching closely is the new Surface Book. Even though today is the day they are supposed to be out, most stores that carry Microsoft products do not have them. Not even for display. Even Microsoft’s own retail stores only have them on display and you can’t buy one yet. (This information came from multiple calls to multiple stores, not from me physically visiting one.)

As the embargo on reviews has seemingly been lifted the reviews are pouring in. I’ve read/watched a few so far… notably Norman Chan’s, Mr Mobile’s, Dan Seifert’s and Dana Wollman’s. Go read/watch their reviews.

Here are a few other details I’ve picked up:

  • The new Surface Book isn’t new. But the base, or keyboard, is. The Performance Base, as MSFT calls it, comes with a GPU now and it didn’t before. There are also a few subtle configurations that are different now.
  • The Surface Book gets no where near the battery life that Microsoft claims. The only reviewer that got anywhere close to the same battery life as Microsoft claims was Dana Wollman at Engadget. And this was only because she set up the Surface Book simply to play video rather than do any real tasks. Norman Chan and MrMobile both got abysmal battery life.
  • Apple catches a lot of flak for the MacBook Pros doing away with ports, but the Surface Book is also lacking many of the ports you’d want on it. It rather relies on a proprietary port and a $200 box you can use to extend the port offerings.
  • When gaming (which I never do) it gets pretty hot.

I was very eager to purchase the new Surface Book. I was ready to trade in my MacBook Pro and get one today, actually. But I’m glad I didn’t after these reviews. My excitement has been squashed a bit. It shows it pays to wait for the reviews to come out rather than rely on what Microsoft puts on display during their events.

So now I’m back to being truly torn. Do I purchase a new MacBook Pro or the Surface Book? I have no idea.