What makes the Surface Pro 3 special? Microsoft's Panos Panay explains

The Surface Pro 3 went on sale today, and as we discovered in our in-depth review of Microsoft's new tablet, it's quite an impressive piece of kit. From its stunning high-resolution 12-inch display and versatile kickstand, to the excellent Pen and much-improved Type Cover, there's certainly a lot to like about the device. 

Even so, not everyone is clear on what sets the Pro 3 apart from its rivals. Is it just a bigger tablet, or a wannabe laptop? Is it just good for watching movies and playing games, or is it a true fully-capable PC in a slim, light form factor? 

Today, Microsoft released a video in which Panos Panay, the corporate vice president in charge of Surface, explains some of the innovations that make the Pro 3 such a remarkable device. 

"The power of the Surface is the power of a PC," he explains. "I think that's what gets lost sometimes. It is a tablet for sure, and we call it the tablet that can replace your PC. You can ask the question, 'Why haven't others done this? I don't get it - how do you have a tablet and still have the full power of a PC. Why isn't this just happening everywhere?' I think that's a good way to think of the innovation that's happened in this product." 

He also explains the thinking that defines the whole Surface line through its kickstand. "We had to find a way to transition people from, grab a tablet, and when you're done consuming, put it down, and then grab a laptop when you want to create. The transition wasn't 'put the tablet down, pick up a laptop'; the transition became the kickstand." 

Throughout the video, Panay manages to summarize many of the key aspects of the Surface Pro 3 that make it such a compelling device. It's only three minutes long, so sit back and enjoy: 

Source: YouTube 

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Got mine. It's shockingly thin and light. And perfectly "right sized". I'm very impressed all the way around.

Though the track-pad is, imho, barely usable. As in, "it's useable... but doesn't rise any higher than that". While a vast improvement over the old one, it's still not even in the same ball-park (or even planet) as the trackpad on my Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro... let alone a MacBook. Worse, there are no real configuration settings for it. You can tweak a few minor things, but you don't have any control over gestures or other features.

For all the hype they gave the track-pad, and for all the improvement it represents over the previous Surface Type cover track-pads... it still seems half-assed to me.

But seriously, that is the only negative I've been able to come up with so far. The device itself is amazing.

Simply search for "Change Mouse Settings" and hit the result with the mouse icon (or find this in the Control Panel), go to the Pointer Options tab, click on "Enhance Pointer Precision." You can also further increase the sensitivity here.

I did find that hint (why isn't it like that out of the box) and that improved things somewhat, but it's still vastly inferior to my Yoga 2 Pro in the "trackpad" department.

Microsoft has a lot of work to do here, imho. Trakpads on Windows laptops tend to be poor in general (compared to those on Macbooks). The Yoga 2 Pro has by far the best I've ever used. But there's still no real standard set of features, control panel applet... TrackPads have been around for a long time, why isn't there a standard "Trackpad" control panel applet (separate from the mouse)?

Anyway, the trackpad is still the weakest part of a very strong device.

Not sold.. who is gonna do some real productivity on this 12 inch tablet screen. LOL.. just goes everything in a cloud where one data breach and there goes your napkin ideas.

Auditor said,
Not sold.. who is gonna do some real productivity on this 12 inch tablet screen. LOL.. just goes everything in a cloud where one data breach and there goes your napkin ideas.

I am already productive with this "tablet". The screen resolution is excellent on the 12 inch screen, providing good real estate for running Visual Studio and Office apps effectively.

Standard troll comment? To answer your first question: IT pros, business travelers, developers, artists, designers, architects, physicians, engineers, students and educators to name a few. And as for the second thing, I'll just remind you that multibillion dollar businesses trust Microsoft with their Azure cloud solution, Apple being one of them. So you don't need to worry about your napkin ideas getting stolen.

Edited by AsherGZ, Jun 21 2014, 10:38pm :

AsherGZ said,
Standard troll comment? To answer your first question: IT pros, business travelers, developers, artists, designers, architects, physicians, engineers, students and educators to name a few. And as for the second thing, I'll just remind you that multibillion dollar businesses trust Microsoft with their Azure cloud solution, Apple being one of them. So you don't need to worry about your napkin ideas getting stolen.

Standard fanboy comment. To reply your first comment, all of those people you mentioned using Surface, I don't see any of them using this tablet for real productive work so far. Stop pulling those people from no where. Regarding second comment, many big businesses and sensitive companies such as Federal governments, Military, etc and financial institutions are going to keep their data at their local servers rather than uploading it to some cloud fad which is nothing but another 3D TV like gimmick. One serious data breach and all these cloud fans will be running out in a horde.

very jealous of new owners :)

I'm waiting for SP4 (don't want to go backwards on battery for my current Surface), but it's going to be a hard wait!

We got ours this morning. The best comment in the video is that people just love it but they don't know why - it's everything coming together. That really does some it up. It's just a joy to use.

"Even so, not everyone is clear on what sets the Pro 3 apart from its rivals. Is it just a bigger tablet, or a wannabe laptop? Is it just good for watching movies and playing games, or is it a true fully-capable PC in a slim, light form factor? "

Who cares? It does everything and does it well. Why is this even still being asked?

Im really disappointed that the battery for the pen was not included. I don't know too many people with spare AAAA's laying around.

Nimec said,
Im really disappointed that the battery for the pen was not included. I don't know too many people with spare AAAA's laying around.

It isn't? I thought it was under the manual in the box. Or I'm thinking of some other piece of HW.

scorp508 said,

It isn't? I thought it was under the manual in the box. Or I'm thinking of some other piece of HW.

Thank you for your comment. I looked all over earlier trying to see if it fell out and couldn't find it. I noticed the spot in the box where there could have been a battery and scoured some more... I finally found it under the couch.

I was wondering why during initial setup it said "Insert the battery now", I was like: What battery?

Cheers bud!

I'm glad panos finally went "on air". This video was well dome and struck every point on why I bought aanother surface especially the 3.

About to finally set up mine and play with it in half hour. So excited!

My MacBook Pro is about to become jealous. I'm keeping that around solely for iOS development purposes now. Windows for everything else.

You realize you can do iOS development now on Windows using Visual Studio, right? Just get Xamarin, and all your apps can run on iOS (with a 'native' look and feel), as well as Windows Phone, Windows 8, and Android.

pmbAustin said,
You realize you can do iOS development now on Windows using Visual Studio, right? Just get Xamarin, and all your apps can run on iOS (with a 'native' look and feel), as well as Windows Phone, Windows 8, and Android.

You still need a Mac to do the compilation and testing of iOS applications though: http://xamarin.com/visual-studio

IMO, this is a game changer. Aside from my desktop, all I need is this device. It does everything I need it to do and then some.
Well done Microsoft!

I'd go out on a limb here and say he has a bit of 'Jobs Flair' about him. MSFT should really use him more. He is articulate, smart and is a pretty good presenter IMO..

I'm starting to really like Panos. At first I wasn't sure about the guy, but this guy shows so much compassion for the product. It's literally his baby. I wish more people at Microsoft were like him.

There's a lot of talent at the newly acquired Nokia Devices team. Seriously, if these two teams colaborate on hardware, along with help from Microsoft Research, they can come up with some of the most awesome things the world will ever see.

Hardware isn't the issue. We really need more developers to create better applications and apps.

Windows App Store apps need to be higher quality, and more featured. Windows Desktop applications need to at the very least support HiDpi (this screen is high res!), and maybe even touch.

THIS. Of course, part of the issue with attracting developers is getting more of these devices into hands of people demanding (and willing to pay for) applications.

Windows 8 has some of the best development tools available. But most developers are paying more attention to Android and iOS. And there hasn't been a really new Desktop/Win32 application in ages.

If Windows Phone & Win RT and WIndows 8.x get better market penetration (and Microsoft completes unifying the stores and APIs and such, as they're supposed to by this time next year), the app situation will certainly improve.

I agree that most desktop developers really need to make a pass through their applications and ensure they work in High-DPI environments. And Microsoft needs to provide the APIs, frameworks, and guidance to make that easier on Developers.

pmbAustin said,
.... And Microsoft needs to provide the APIs, frameworks, and guidance to make that easier on Developers.

They have.
There were a whole set of sessions at build about targeting multiple DPI with your apps.

Tested one out at Best Buy, man this thing is light. Microsoft really went all out on this device, and I am just glad to see them innovating like this.

D. FiB3R said,
I'm sold.

Unfortunately, I'm also broke. lol

If Microsoft could do a sales tactics where we deposit a certain amount and pay monthly, that would be awesome

bobbytunda said,

If Microsoft could do a sales tactics where we deposit a certain amount and pay monthly, that would be awesome

If they ever did this, I bet the product would be called Surface 365 lol

bobbytunda said,

If Microsoft could do a sales tactics where we deposit a certain amount and pay monthly, that would be awesome

Those sort of deals are usually best done in your bank account... Just setup a automatic transfer to your "Surface Fund" account as if you were on a monthly payment deal with Microsoft. Once you reach the point where this is enough money then you can buy it.

Best part about this method is you won't be paying for a surface a few generations old while there is a new one looking down at you.

bobbytunda said,

If Microsoft could do a sales tactics where we deposit a certain amount and pay monthly, that would be awesome

I think you can do this today:

1. Buy it at BestBuy
2. Choose Paypal as the payment option
3. When on PayPal, choose Bill Me Later option

bobbytunda said,

If Microsoft could do a sales tactics where we deposit a certain amount and pay monthly, that would be awesome

I think you can do this with a plastic rectangle called a credit card.