Wednesday May 10, 2017

Microsoft Defends Decision to Not Include USB Type-C in Surface

Like a fallen tree in an empty forest for no one to hear, the relevance of a new hardware standard is questionable if manufacturers fail to include it with their designs. One of the latest conundrums in the technological forest is Microsoft’s decision to preclude USB Type-C ports from their latest Surface Laptop iteration. The specification for Type-C was finalized way back in August 2014 and has made its way to consumer devices and components such as motherboards, phones آ– including Microsoft’s own Lumia 950, peripherals, and competitor laptops, so what is the concern? Apparently, consumer confusion with potential charging ports, and the "maturity" of the standard itself. Previous reports of this newest Surface version mentioned two Type-C ports in the prototype, with the decision to remove them based on cable issues and concerns with market adoption.

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Adding to the confusion, Type-C ports are sometimes used to charge their host devices. Customers could essentially grab the wrong Type-C charger and quickly run out of battery juice because the charger was not up for the task.

Adding to the curious tale of Microsoft’s Surface is their high-end market price for an educationally targeted product. Including only one USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A port, one Mini-DisplayPort connector, a headphone jack, and their proprietary Surface Connect port, one must purchase an additional dock (like the one Microsoft sells for $199) to add further connectivity. That seems potentially problematic if a student or instructor desires the use of multiple flash drives, or an external hard drive. A situation like that could have been avoided if say, another USB port had been added to the final design. At least they were kind enough to not require a dongle to listen to music and charge the computer.

Thanks to Kyle for this story.