Microsoft is listening. The Floor Duo 2 ditches its predecessor’s last-gen specs, the Floor Laptop computer Studio does away with the Floor Guide’s gimmicky removable display, and the Floor Professional 8 is likely to be the one we’ve been ready for, with an enhanced keyboard, stylus, high-refresh fee display and Thunderbolt ports (lastly!). However there’s one place the place Microsoft is stubbornly carrying on: making you pay considerably greater than the quoted sticker value to make use of these computer systems as marketed — as a result of none of them embrace a stylus or keyboard.
Whereas Microsoft touted the $1,099-and-up Floor Professional 8 as “a powerful laptop with the flexibility of a tablet,” it’s not a laptop computer in any respect whenever you take it out of the field. It’s a touchscreen pill, and nothing else, except you add the keyboard or stylus Microsoft will fortunately promote you for $130 and up. Microsoft solely spent 11 seconds of its 49 minute occasion demoing the Floor Professional 8 with out a peripheral you’ll must pay further for. (Two of these seconds have been a repeat from an earlier a part of the presentation, and 6 of them have been a part of a montage that included Surfaces with keyboards and stylii as properly.)
In actuality, you’ll pay an additional $129.99 for the stylus, $179.99 for Microsoft’s new keyboard with a stylus slot, $279.99 if you need each (there’s a $30 low cost), $199.99 if you need that keyboard to come back with a fingerprint reader, or $329.98 in your keyboard, stylus and fingerprint in whole. So for Microsoft’s full Floor Professional 8 imaginative and prescient of keyboard and removable magnetic stylus, you’re taking a look at a minimal of $1,379.98 earlier than tax — and that’s with simply 8GB of RAM and a tiny 128GB SSD. Double these capacities for the barest quantity of futureproofing, and also you’re at a grand whole of $1,679.98. That may not be a nasty deal, however it’s positively not $1,099.
There are methods to avoid wasting somewhat more cash. Technically, the Floor Professional 8 is suitable with the previous Floor Professional X keyboards as properly, which begin $40 cheaper at $140, and you can currently find them on sale for simply $104 in the event you don’t care about having a stylus that magnetically costs from the keyboard. (Microsoft additionally sells a standalone stylus charger for $35 in the event you change your thoughts.) Some firms may even promote various keyboards, like this new Brydge that makes the Floor Professional extra of a clamshell design. Plus, the Thunderbolt ports ought to theoretically imply you don’t need to pay for a proprietary Microsoft single-cable docking answer.
However shopper selection or no, Microsoft needs to have it each methods — a seemingly low beginning value for highly effective pen-equipped laptops and an enormous upsell to truly make them that means — and that applies to its different merchandise as properly. You might have heard the ARM-based Floor Professional X has a brand new low value of $899. Whereas that’s technically true, that $899 buys you a pill that ditches the unique promise of always-on connectivity for plain ol’ Wi-Fi, doesn’t embrace the keyboard or stylus, and encompasses a last-gen SQ1 processor as a substitute of the brand new SQ2 mannequin. The total Floor Professional X imaginative and prescient with the newer SQ2, LTE, keyboard and pen will value you $1,579.98, although you possibly can get away with paying $1,400 in the event you ditch the stylus and nab the lowest-end keyboard at retail.
I can’t carry myself to criticize the $399-and-up Floor Go 3 in fairly the identical means — Microsoft did certainly present children watching movies and taking video requires almost a full minute throughout its presentation. Whereas its last-gen Pentium chip, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage is likely to be somewhat iffy in 2021 (we simply wrote the obituary for 64GB iPhones), Microsoft isn’t promoting it as a keyboard-first machine. And regardless that that keyboard nonetheless prices $100 by itself, you could find the stylus as low as $65 on sale.
However even Microsoft’s demonstration of the brand new $1,499 Floor Duo 2 cellphone included outstanding placement for a characteristic it’ll make you pay further for. Did you notice the moment the place Microsoft reveals how the brand new Floor Pen can magnetically persist with its new cellphone and cost?
It may possibly’t try this out of the field.
“To make sure your Surface Slim Pen is always with you and charged, we’re introducing Microsoft Surface Duo 2 Pen Cover,” a Microsoft presenter stated. The reality is that “Pen Cover” refers to a brand new case you’ll want to purchase for the cellphone to do these issues, not a characteristic of the Floor Duo 2’s cowl supplies. (And also you’ll want to purchase the pen, after all.) However good on Microsoft for designing a case that blends in so properly I assumed it was a part of the cellphone.
Floor Pen nonetheless does not magnetize on to the system (a minimum of not on goal), however it *does* persist with the brand new case/cowl, which is way nicer wanting than final 12 months’s bumper.
Bonus: the pen wirelessly costs when hooked up. (Sorry, no Qi charging for Duo 2 itself.)
— Michael Fisher (@Captain2Phones) September 22, 2021
It’s extremely unlikely that Microsoft will cease this follow anytime quickly: it’s confirmed the technique out over seven generations of Floor tablets, and it offers the corporate nice flexibility relating to gross sales: when Black Friday or Prime Day roll round, it might probably construct discounted bundles or throw in free equipment to tempt consumers who’d been on the fence.
Microsoft can all the time argue it’s on the facet of shopper selection and sustainability, too — why embrace a keyboard when some received’t use them, and even throw them away? (That’s the argument for unbundling cellphone chargers, too, although it’s not fairly that straightforward.) And one factor Microsoft has going for that argument is backwards compatibility — its stylus pens are compatible all the way in which again to the Floor Professional 3 from 2014, and a keyboard cowl from that very same Floor Professional 3 labored all the way in which as much as 2019’s Floor Professional 7, Windows Central reports.
Sadly, the Floor Professional X and new Floor Professional 8 break that keyboard compatibility streak, so you may’t simply go discover a prior 12 months’s mannequin for $30 or $40 used as a substitute of shopping for it for $104 on sale.
Principally, I’m just a bit aggravated that Microsoft presents its Floor merchandise as a whole imaginative and prescient of computing, whereas leaving probably the most attention-grabbing components of that imaginative and prescient out of the field that bears their identify.