Microsoft: Apple's iPad Pro is a 'companion device,' not a PC

Posted Jan 12, 2016 by James Walker
Microsoft has publicly discussed its feelings on Apple's iPad Pro and how it compares to its own range of Surface tablets. The company considers the newest member of the iPad family to be only a 'companion device' that can't do productivity on its own.
The iPad Pro
The iPad Pro
TrustedReviews spoke to Dan Laycock, Senior Communications Manager for Microsoft Surface. Apple launched the iPad Pro in September 2015, one month before Microsoft released its Surface Pro line-up with more powerful processors for improved performance.
Both devices can be paired with an optional keyboard and stylus for use on the go. The iPad Pro also supports split-screen multitasking, the first iOS tablet to launch with this feature. Microsoft doesn't think this closes the gap between iOS and Windows though, instead seeing Apple's take on a Surface rival as confirmation that "The strategies are very different."
Microsoft has designed Surface with the intention of it becoming a one-size-fits-all device capable of doing the work of a tablet, laptop and desktop computer. The company even markets the range as "the tablet that can replace your laptop," a phrase that Apple tends to take exception to.
The company is known for its view that there is no need to converge different device families together, instead considering each to have its own purpose. Despite this, many analysts have interpreted the iPad Pro as a direct answer to the popular Surface Pro, even though Apple insists it doesn't want to build a Surface.
Microsoft clearly doesn't think Apple has built a Surface rival though. Because it intentionally shies away from going all-in on blending tablets and laptops together, the iPad Pro user still can't achieve the same level of productivity as a Surface user can.
Laycock said to TrustedReviews: "Microsoft really wants you to only carry one device for tablet and PC use whereas the iPad Pro is always going to be a companion device." He continued: "So to see Apple do something that feels a little bit similar, that is clearly skewed for a bigger screen, and more productivity built in, and the ability to use a pen… We don't see it as a one-to-one comparison, because this is a full PC, you're running full apps."
Surface users have the advantage of being able to use any Windows desktop program ever written on powerful Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors. Until recently, competition was lacking even from other Windows devices so Surface has become the go-to solution for professionals who need to use demanding software such as 3D modelling tools, PhotoShop or software development kits on the go but still want an accessible tablet to use at home.
A report late last year suggested these benefits mean the entire tablet market may be beginning to swing into Microsoft's favour. A look at tablet sales from the top 100 online retailers in the United States revealed Apple lost out in sales to Microsoft during the month of October as the company's tablet sales continue to decline while Microsoft's reputation grows.