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A Microsoft engineer excuses the Surface Laptop from USB-C

By Jules Wang May 9, 2017, 3:15 pm

An Surface Connect slot, a full USB port, a mini DisplayPort and a 3.5mm headphone jack. That’s the in and out of the Surface Laptop that launched last week. That is the model for the new PC vertical that Microsoft has put out.

Why not include USB-C, like its manufacturer partners have in this field? It’s a smaller port that can pull fast speeds and is reversible all at the same time. And with Apple taking the standard on in its MacBooks (if only with a flat foot) and Android manufacturers making a good transition, why didn’t Microsoft follow suit? Its tablet-making partners are doing it.

Well, general manager of Surface Engineering Pete Kyriacou told The Verge that “USB-C is great but also a huge pain for a lot of people,” promoting the Surface Connect port as a smart port expansion method.

The magnetic attach has been huge. We have a closed docking scenario that lets us connect and then confidently have four USB ports, gigabit Ethernet, obviously power, and then two external displays.

“Closed” is the proper word, here. But Kyriacou thinks that USB-C is too open because of the different standards that can be applied to devices and cables — from USB 2.0 up to Thunderbolt. So, if a consumer decides to pick up a third-party cable and their Surface Laptop dies off on the charger because the spec’s too poor, “they’re not going to blame the power charger at that point.”

Nothing a little informing can do, but there’s a larger narrative here: when it comes to a good looking and internally capable design, I/O usually gets the shaft. Kyriacou said that the single USB port on the device was thanks to “design and space.”

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