Microsoft Windows Surface Pro vs other Full Windows Tablets

Microsoft Windows Surface Pro vs other Full Windows Tablets

Originally posted at in February 2016

What makes the Microsoft Surface Pro better and more costly than other full Windows Tablets?

The Microsoft Surface line of products sets itself apart from the rest. They cost a whole lot more than your average Windows Tablet and in this case you really do get what you pay for because the assumed goal is to have a tablet that can truly be a business desktop, workstation or laptop replacement rather than simply another Windows based tablet to compete with consumer based Google Android and Apple IPad tablets.

The reason they generally cost more is because you are getting far more expandability for your money. In the consumer end Windows tablets market, you will find systems that are roughly comparable in specs to those of the Google Android and the Apple IPad. The specs have certainly matured over the years in both the OS software and device hardware. Today these consumer tablets generally have internal storage space between 16GB to 32GB, and run on a system memory between 1GB to 2GB. The displays usually have a maximum resolution of up to 1280 x 720 on 7 inch screens and full 1080p on 10 inch screens. The core CPU of these Windows tablets mainly runs using the Intel Atom Quad core processors. Some of these consumer end units will have optional accessories such as keyboards and a stylus. Specifications will vary based on price and vendors. On average you can expect to pay up to $300 CAD for a 7” tablet and up to $600 CAD for a 10” tablet.

Why does the amount of internal storage space matter?

In simple terms, the more storage space you have, the more software you can install and the more data you can save. Windows 10 will use up at least 3GB of disk space itself.  Add to that Microsoft Office could take up another 1GB of space.  You can get an idea of how fast space can get eaten up and how a 16GB Windows tablet is not going to provide enough storage in the long run.

Microsoft Surface gives you between 64GB and 512GB, for most business users this should be ample enough for any business software needed and data to be stored locally.


Why does the amount of system memory (RAM) matter?

Basically, if you have the storage space to install the business software you want, you are going to want to be able to actually run it, and a Windows tablet with only 1GB of system memory is not going to do it well, or even maybe at all. For example, Microsoft Office 2013 requires a minimum of 1 gigabyte (GB) RAM (for 32-bit); 2 gigabytes (GB) RAM (for 64-bit), and even if you can squeeze by on 1GB or 2GB, you won’t be able to open more than one application before you start getting “Out of Memory” error messages. It’s important to note that the Microsoft Surfaces are the only tablets that I know of today that are running the full 64bit version of Windows 10. This is why they can come in 8GB and 16GB system memory options. The 32bit Windows tablets cannot utilize more than 3GB of system memory which is why most only come with 2GB. The 64bit versions require more system resources, not only for the OS but for the 64bit Software applications as well. It may also be important to note that the 64bit versions are generally backward compatibility with 32bit software applications, but the 32bit versions are not forward compatible with 64bit software applications, so they just will not run on them at all.


Why does a Tablet with Windows 10 Professional matter?

Now that you know the basic difference between 32bit and 64bit versions of Windows, you probably want to know why a having a tablet with Windows 10 Professional would matter. Why can’t you just use the Windows 10 Home version? Well, it’s fine for “Home” users who will be using that tablet as a standalone unit with no need for any real business networking needs or if they just want to set up a small network workgroup with no centralized user management security.

The reason Windows 10 Pro is important is it is for “Professional” business networking. If you have a domain server that manages your users, you are going to need to join your computer to the business domain, and you can only do that with the “Professional” version of Windows, not the Home version. Sure for an additional $150 you may be able to upgrade your “Home” version to “Professional”, but will you have enough storage space and memory to run it on one of those other consumer end basic Windows tablets? It’s best to just go with a tablet/laptop that was designed for business right out of the box.


What are the base specifications of the Microsoft Surfaces?

Microsoft Currently offers the Surface Tablet in several base options:

  1. The Surface 3 starting at $639.00 CAD (10.8” Full HD Touch display, Windows 10, 64GB to 128GB of storage, and 2GB to 4GB of system memory, with Wifi and with optional LTE)
  2. The Surface Pro 3 starting at $949.00 CAD (12” Full HD Touch Display, Windows 10 Pro, 64GB to 512GB of storage, and 4GB to 8GB of system memory, and running on either an Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 processor.
  3. The Surface Pro 4 starting at $1,179.00 (12.3-inch PixelSense™ touchscreen display, Windows 10 Pro Operating System, 128GB to 256GB of Storage, 4GB to 16GB of system memory, and running on an Intel Core m3, i5, or i7 processor.
  4. The Surface Book starting at $1,949.00 (13.5-inch PixelSense™ touchscreen display (3000 x 2000) resolution, Windows 10 Pro Operating system, 128GB to 512GB of storage, 8GB to 16GB of system memory and including integrated dGPU on some units, running on a Core Intel i5 or i7 processor.

The advanced accessory features list goes on to include such things as the Magnetic Charger, Digital Stylus and the Wireless Display Adapter, and more. The price may seem high at first glance when compared to other consumer end Windows tablets, but not when you compare what you are getting to a standard business laptop or workstation comparably equipped. Consider that a comparable desktop or laptop will likely meet at the same price point, but may fall short on the advanced features, convenience and portability that you would get from this ultimate business class tablet.

Many business clients are already successfully using them in their offices and when travelling today, and they are extremely impressed by their versatility and the ease of adapting them into their existing business environments. In fact, Triella has installed Surface Pro 3 and Surface Pro 4 tablets in three different firms.

If you are interested in making the transition in your own business, contact Triella today and speak with a consultant about how they may improve your productivity, and also benefit your working environment.

Paul Comtois is a Client Support Specialist at Triella, a technology consulting company specializing in providing technology audits, planning advice, project management and other CIO-related services to small and medium sized firms. Paul can be reached at 647.426.1004. For additional articles, go to Triella is a VMware Professional Partner, Microsoft Certified Partner, Citrix Solution Advisor – Silver, Dell Preferred Partner, Authorized Worldox Reseller and a Kaspersky Reseller.

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