Over the last month, I’ve spent a lot of time with the team reflecting on the last five years since we launched Surface Pro and it made me realize that while much has changed, many things have stayed the same. In hindsight, it’s clear that Surface Pro created the foundation for who we are today – our team culture, our dedication to our customers, our obsession with every detail, and our desire to innovate. I’m incredibly grateful for everything these five years have brought, and I’m looking forward to continuing this journey.
When we launched the very first Surface Pro five years ago, there was a snowstorm in New York. We’d planned to have our launch at a Best Buy in Manhattan, but the weather had other ideas. This was the second time weather had driven us out of New York, as during the Surface RT launch the previous fall, a hurricane hit within hours of our event and we had to flee from the city in a rush.
As the storm built, I remember sitting in a conference room trying to figure out what we should do. The streets of New York were virtually empty, and if we decided to keep the Surface Pro launch there it was unlikely that anyone would be able to attend, so we came together across the company and in a matter of hours we had a new plan. The Microsoft Stores Team said we had just opened a store in Las Vegas at the Fashion Show Mall. They had a stage, it was a climate unlikely to be hit with either a snowstorm or a hurricane, and they had customers excited about the product launch. Within 24 hours we had set up an impromptu launch. We got a crew, we flew in the dancers from the Surface Pro commercial to perform, and we shared our new product with pride and some questionable fashion statements on my part.
I love this story, not only because it holds many happy memories of the launch of a product that changed our lives forever, but also because it speaks to the relentlessness of the team who first created Surface Pro and the culture of resourcefulness and determination that still exists across the team today.
The idea behind Surface Pro
We wanted to challenge the concept that people should have to choose between the portability and convenience of a tablet and the power and productivity of a PC.
We started with simple goals that we knew had to be executed perfectly – a kickstand (at 22 degrees), a clip in keyboard, a pen, and a powerful processor. From there we became obsessed with every detail, listening to and learning from our customers to ensure we were delivering a device capable of versatility and precision, creativity and productivity, and security and simplicity.
Panos Panay poses for a group photo following a breakfast with students attending a Microsoft event in May, 2017
When we first launched it was rare to spot a student, a work traveler, or an artist out in public with a Surface Pro, each time we saw one we would snap a picture, talk to the customer and find out what they loved about the device. Now five years on, we scarcely go a day without seeing one, from the dad who uses his Surface Pro as his work machine during the day and to track his son’s golf scores on the course, to the two women studying in a coffee shop in Korea, to the surgeon checking records at his patient’s bedside, we never tire of hearing the stories of our customers.
Today, we feel both fortunate and proud that this vision of Surface has become a reality with people using Surface Pro every day and loving the experience.
The ultimate laptop
Since the first Surface Pro launched we’ve seen the PC category evolve, with new growth segments (when we entered the market in 2013 the premium 2-1 category saw 4x growth and we have continued to see significant growth every year since**), and a set of new experiences and interactions, allowing millions of people to type, write, touch, and create in new ways.
With each generation and each new product, this team has continued to evolve and innovate, expanding on our original vision to grow with what our customers want and need. Products are a reflection of the people that make them and the people that use them. In the last five years, Surface has become known for thin, light, powerful devices, with insane battery power and they’re only going to get better from here.
But one of the things the team takes the most pride in is seeing how Surface has impacted people’s lives:
Leann Emmert, a movie location scout, uses her Surface to envision a setting for Pacific Rim Uprising’s most awe-inspiring scenes, and view a mixed reality rendering of what that scene will look like upon completion.
Soon Flynn, a student managing the rigors of his D. program and challenges of autism.
Kayas Cultural College, connecting residents of this remote community to educational resources.
If you haven’t tried Surface yet, I can assure you there has never been a better time. Beginning on February 17th and lasting throughout President’s Day weekend, we’re offering $200 off the price of Surface Pro at Microsoft Stores and select retailers like Best Buy.
Microsoft celebrates the fifth anniversary of Surface Pro
*Offer valid from 12:00 AM PST on February 17, 2018 to 11:59 PM PST on February 19, 2018, while supplies last. Offer valid only on select Surface Pro device. Excludes Surface Pro LTE devices. Not valid on prior orders or purchases; cannot be transferred or otherwise redeemed for cash or promo code(s). May not be combinable with other offers. Refunds will take into account the discount. Price discount does not include taxes, shipping or other fees. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Microsoft reserves the right to modify or discontinue offers at any time. Limit of 1 offer per customer. Other exclusions and limits may apply. Offer available at participating retailers and Microsoft online store in the United States (including Puerto Rico).
**IDC data. 2-1 is a detachable tablet plus convertible Notebook. “Premium” is categorized as $800+