The Mac-Windows war is taking an interesting turn this week.
Microsoft has been targeting the MacBook Pro since the company introduced its first-ever laptop, the Surface Book, last year. The company drew direct comparisons between Apple's hardware at the time, claiming that the Surface Book ran twice as fast as Cupertino's flagship notebook.
The rivalry doesn't end there. This summer, Microsoft pit its Surface Pro 4 tablet against the MacBook Air in a TV commercial, reminding viewers that the latter lacks touch and stylus input.
Now, the company's retail arm is getting in on the act.
On Oct. 27, coinciding with the long-awaited debut of Apple's new MacBook Pros, Microsoft launched a trade-in program directed at owners of eligible Apple hardware in the United States. Should they take Microsoft up on its offer, they can score a deal on select Surface devices.
"Starting today, anyone in the U.S. can trade in their MacBook Pro or MacBook Air at a Microsoft Store or online for up to $650 off a Surface Book or Surface Pro," wrote Brian Hall, corporate vice president at Microsoft Devices Marketing, in a blog post. The promotion runs through Nov. 10.
Once again, Microsoft is focusing on the Surface line's touch capabilities to draw the distinction between both companies' devices. "Surface owners tell us that they can’t imagine using a laptop without touch due to its ease and convenience," continued Hall.
According to Hall, the vast majority (97 percent) of Surface Book or Surface Pro 4 users use their touchscreens regularly. "Surface fans use touch and pen to take notes at the click of the Surface Pen and go from idea to creation without having to hop between devices."
Although the promotion makes the Surface Book and Surface Pro more affordable to potential buyers, those who are hoping score a deal on the new Surface Studio all-in-one PC are out of luck.
Despite rumors that Microsoft was readying an all-in-one Surface PC, Microsoft nonetheless surprised industry watchers with the Oct. 26 reveal of the Surface Studio. Aimed at creative professionals, the high-end PC features a 28-inch, 4,500- by 3,000-pixel touch-screen display and an included Surface Pen stylus. Prices start at $2,999.
Paired with the optional Surface Dial controller ($99 or free with Surface Studio preorders placed by Dec. 1), the system offers users new ways of interacting with design software. By placing the puck-like peripheral directly on the Studio's expansive screen, which tilts down to 20 degrees mimicking a drafting table, artist and designers can quickly access new tools, reorient their canvases or adjust brush options on the fly with a tap or twist.
Microsoft isn't the only company experimenting with new input methods on its flagship devices.
Apple yesterday showed off new 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro laptops with a touch-enabled strip that replaces the traditional function keys. Called the Touch Bar, it displays controls, shortcuts and contextual menus that change depending on which application is currently in use.