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Microsoft Surface Book Reviews: Pros, Cons and Freezes

Interest in Microsoft Surface Book -- the company's first full-blown notebook PC -- is running high among MSP and channel influencers like Gary Pica and Jamison West. But what do the early Surface Book reviews say about the combination computer and tablet?

Things started off really positive. Then came user reports of system freezes. Then came channel veteran Vlad Mazek's return to sender. Here's a rundown...

Positive Microsoft Surface Book Reviews

PC Magazine's Surface Book Review gives it 4.5 stars out of five, rating the device excellent. The pros include a "versatile detachable-hybrid design. Light and comfortable to use in Tablet mode. Constructed of premium materials. Brilliant 3,000-by-2,000-pixel display. Electrically actuated mechanical latch. More than 15 hours of battery life in testing. No bloatware." The cons include "Pricey. No ports on tablet body. Does not lie flat when closed."

CNET's Surface Book Review gives it four stars out of five. The pros: "The Microsoft Surface Book packs high-end components, including new Intel processors and optional Nvidia graphics, into a smart, slim body. Some components and most of the battery are hidden in the base, so the tablet half is lighter. The high-res screen looks great, and the included stylus pen is excellent." The cons: "Configurations with the optional Nvidia GPU and more storage get very expensive. There are some first-generation quirks, including an awkward gap between the screen and base when closed."

The Verge Surface Book Review gives it 8.3 out of 10. The pros include "great keyboard and trackpad; amazing battery life; 3:2 display is ideal for webpages." The bad includes "That weird gap; display wobbles and feels top heavy; a little bulky as a laptop."

Mixed Microsoft Surface Book Review

Paul Thurrott's Surface Book Review (Core i5/8 GB/256 GB) included plenty of positive notes but the bottom line from Thurrott was more mixed. His conclusion as of Oct. 21, 2015: "For now, Surface Book is hard to recommend given the newness and the unproven hinge design, and the expensive pricing. The screen is absolutely perfect, as is the typing experience, and the battery life looks amazing. But I will need more time—and much more real-world use—before I can be sure. For now, I am cautiously optimistic, and excited to travel more with Surface Book and use it around my home."

Negative Microsoft Surface Book Review

A heads up: The following review contains a not safe for work (NSFW) click-through that's offensive in some areas. Still, the findings are important. Longtime channel advocate Vlad Mazek purchased the Surface Book with high hopes, calling it "gorgeous. Beautiful. Powerful. Flexible. Almost too good to be true." But his system suffered numerous crashes, touchpad problems, and weird ergonomics. I point to Mazek because he's a channel-centric person who used the system in the real world -- living on Surface Book for a full week. His final decision? "I wrapped it up and sent it back to Microsoft."

Note: A growing list of users claim Surface Book is freezing up on them.

Channel Interest Remains High

Still, the overall interest for Surface Book remains high among IT channel leaders. Twice in the past 48 hours, an influential channel veteran mentioned Microsoft's notebook to me in an unsolicited way.

First, I was interviewing Arterian CEO Jamison West about his business's evolution toward Microsoft's cloud services. When I asked what was next, West said he had branched out beyond HP hardware and planned to offer his customers the Surface Book.

Next, during a visit today with TruMethods CEO Gary Pica, I asked how his approach to work was evolving. We got on the topic of devices, and Pica said he hoped to use Surface Book in combination with a Windows Phone the way many folks use MacBooks and iPhones in tandem. Pica's reliance on Microsoft Outlook is driving his interest in that all-Microsoft device world.

As for me, I've got an iPhone 6 Plus and a three-year-old MacBook Air. Both continue to treat me very well, and most of my applications are out in third-party clouds. I do think Surface Book will win many customers -- assuming recent bug complaints aren't too major -- but I won't be a convert in the near-term.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.