Microsoft made a big deal today about going after Apple. And today more than ever, it's worth believing. There are two reasons why: first, Surface sales are on the rise. They accounted for $888 million in revenue during Microsoft's last quarter, up more than double from the same period last year. That's nothing compared to Apple's $6 billion in Mac sales and $4.5 billion in iPad sales, but Microsoft seems to be looking at those numbers and envisioning a future where it's grabbed a chunk for itself. Microsoft says it isn't trying to be a hardware company, but it sure wouldn't mind stumbling into those hardware profits.
Read next: The Microsoft Surface Book review.
And second, Microsoft presented a legitimately compelling portfolio of devices today. The Surface Pro is obviously striking a chord with consumers. Sales are up, and literally everyone is starting to copy it. Apple with the iPad Pro. Google with the Pixel C. And I'd sure be willing to bet that Microsoft's hardware partners are close to unveiling new Surface competitors of their own. Microsoft pushed that forward today with an even more powerful version of its flagship tablet, the Surface Pro 4. It manages to both be thinner and lighter, while including a slightly larger display without making the body any wider or taller.
Microsoft is building a lineup to rival Apple's
Then there's the Surface Book, which has easily attracted the most attention. It's Microsoft's play for the high-end laptop market. It's a full power laptop that has a detachable screen for use as a tablet — basically, it's a Surface Pro with a really great keyboard dock. What makes that keyboard dock even more important is that some models have an additional GPU built inside, which should really push its performance forward. The only downside? No kickstand, if you're into that sort of thing.
Microsoft is building a lineup to rival Apple's (on paper, at least), even if if they're swinging at slightly different targets. Is the iPad Pro competing with the Surface Pro? Sort of. It's far less powerful and doesn't run a traditional desktop OS. Is the Surface Pro 4 competing with the MacBook Air, as Microsoft says? Sure, seems fair. But they're different form factors for different needs. Is the Surface Book competing with the MacBook Pro? Yeah, that's about right.
Still, the point stands that it's getting really weird to compare these products on specs alone, simply because the way that you use them is really, really different. But more and more, these devices are advertised on an evolving continuum. There's no clear place that tablets end and laptops start. So with all of that said, take a look at the details of what Microsoft and Apple are offering. Specs are only half the story, but some of the differences really stand out.