With the Surface Studio, the revamped Surface Book, and the rumored Surface Pro 5, 2017 might very well become Microsoft's year. Though the tech giant has not confirmed the development or the existence of the Surface Pro 5, speculations and alleged leaks about the device are abounding. As far as the nature of the device's rumors is concerned, the upcoming hybrid seems poised to dominate the hybrid portable enterprise device market next year.
The Surface Pro has had a pretty colorful history, starting with the Surface RT four years ago. When Microsoft unveiled the hybrid device to an iPad-saturated market four years ago, many were quick to dismiss Microsoft's efforts as unremarkable. Despite the rocky start, however, Microsoft muscled on, eventually culminating in the release of the Surface Pro 4 last year, a device that has largely been acclaimed both critically and commercially.
Speculations about the Surface Pro 5, the follow-up to the successful Surface Pro 4, are very encouraging, with rumors pointing to Microsoft releasing a hybrid device that is equipped with Intel's Kaby Lake processors ranging from the entry-level Core m3 to the high-end Core i7 chip. All signs so far, including Microsoft's decision to seemingly release the Surface Pro 5 early 2017 instead of late 2016, appears to target the release of Intel's latest processor. With Kaby Lake chips, the Surface Pro 5 would stand far beyond that of its competition, especially the upcoming Apple iPad Pro 2, which is also rumored to be released sometime early 2017.
Microsoft has never really shied away from equipping the Surface line of hybrid devices with the best processors currently available in the industry. With Kaby Lake processors, 4k video processing would be native to the Surface Pro 5. Such power would place the device far beyond the iPad Pro 2's powerful albeit ARM-based mobile-class processor. While the iPad Pro 2 would undoubtedly receive a huge boost in power compared to its predecessor, the power discrepancy between Apple's homegrown mobile chip and Intel's premium line of desktop-grade processors is very significant.
Couple this with the rumored storage and memory options for the Surface Pro 5 and Apple's iPad Pro 2 would definitely appear to be in trouble. Speculations point to the Surface Pro 5 being equipped with as much as 1TB of storage and 16GB of RAM, while Apple's 12.9-inch iPad Pro currently tops at 256GB of storage and 4GB of RAM. Even if Apple steps up its specs to about 512GB of storage and 6GB of RAM, it would still be a long way away from the Surface Pro 5. After all, Apple's strategy over the years has been to release incremental upgrades for each device's iteration. Thus, even a 12.9-inch iPad Pro with 512GB of storage and 6GB of RAM is already stretching it.
One thing that would definitely give the Surface Pro 5 a definitive edge over the iPad Pro 2 is the operating system used in the two devices. The Surface line has always been equipped with the full desktop-grade version of Microsoft's operating system. Thus, the Surface Pro 5 would undoubtedly run the latest, most advanced iteration of Windows 10. On the other hand, the iPad Pro 2 would most likely still run iOS, a mobile operating system. This severely cripples the device, since even basic tasks such as working on multiple MS Word documents would prove tricky on the iPad Pro 2.
Apple has recently asserted that it would not be merging iOS and its desktop-grade operating system, macOS. Thus, with the iPad Pro 2 being a tablet-class device, it would be crippled by the limitations of iOS. Of course, if Apple takes a step out of the box and releases the iPad Pro 2 with macOS Sierra, it would be a completely different story. However, the chances of that happening are fairly low.
When Microsoft first released the Surface line of devices, it decided to take a step away from convention and gamble on something that was, up to that day, largely uncharted territory. Apple, on the other hand, has been playing it safe for years now. With the inevitable bout between the Surface Pro 5 and the iPad Pro 2 in 2017, Apple would need to really dig deep in order to best, or at least match, the Microsoft Surface Pro 5. If any, fans of powerful portable devices might not need to wait very long, as rumors indicate that the release date for both the Surface Pro 5 and the iPad Pro 2 would be set for early 2017.