First impressions after opening it up: This thing is gorgeous. Microsoft’s type cover has a lovely fabric back, which, when placed upside on a table, makes it look like a regular notebook. My MacBook Pro looks sleek with its seamless aluminum design, but it’s cold and decidedly tech.
Setup takes only around 10 minutes — Microsoft seems to have made this intentional, with voice-activated steps, Windows Hello biometric facial authentication, and a straightforward series of questions. Cortana, the virtual assistant, has a cheery demeanor that might be a bit too much for some, but it’s better than the days when you’d have to fiddle with the BIOS to get the PC to boot from your Windows 98 CD-ROM.
In 2019, Windows is an acquired taste, especially as a Mac user. I mention this because, chances are, you are not currently using a Windows machine. Windows only accounts for around 40 percent of global device market share, around the same as Android, as a mobile-first world has reduced dependence on Microsoft’s operating system. Still, though, Microsoft makes its design choices for a global user base, and it shows, with a freshly intuitive UX.
Windows 10 stands in stark contrast to older versions, and the Surface Pro 6 shows Microsoft has been in listening mode. The operating system switches to an Android-style tablet mode when the Type Cover is removed. Prompts are easy to understand, in plain English, but perhaps the Surface’s biggest benefit is the same as Apple’s long-held advantage: The software and hardware are made by the same company, eliminating any unexpected driver clashes or hardware vendor oddities. The Pro 6 is a fascinating glimpse at a world where Apple made Windows machines.
Elsewhere, the hardware is very much up to standard. Typing is nice and a bit more mechanical than my MacBook Pro. The trackpad is smaller, but ratcheting up its sensitivity helps to compensate. The touchscreen, which also supports pen input, is a practical bonus that will grow on users who may spend entire sessions using only that feature. Unlike a regular laptop, you can switch out the keyboard for a wireless alternative, marking a point for the modular versatility that any non-Apple user will often bring up when listing off the advantages of the PC life.