At Microsoft’s Surface launch, Microsoft device chief Panos Panay put up a slide with minimum, “starting at” prices for the Surface Pro 6 and Surface Studio 2: $899 and $999, respectively.
Unfortunately, Microsoft initially tied those lowest-cost models to "Essentials" bundles that force you to buy other items along with the device, resulting in a higher total price. Microsoft appears to have removed that restriction for the Surface Pro 6 as of this article's posting, but the $999 Surface Laptop remains trapped in a higher-cost bundle.
Trapped in a bundle of 'Essentials'
When the Surface Pro 6 went on sale October 2, we noticed right away that the store offered a Surface Pro 6 Essentials bundle, which required that you buy a $99 Type Cover and at least a $49.99 subscription to Office 365 along with your Surface Pro 6. The process of choosing the elements of your bundle actually creates steps for choosing a Type Covers and the Office 365 subscription, noting that each is required.
That put the true minimum price for a Surface Pro 6 at $1,167.98, and $1,167.99 for a Surface Laptop 2. (Both prices assume the presence of a Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, and a 128GB SSD.) As we were writing this story, however, Microsoft added an a-la-carte $899 i5/8/128 option for the Surface Pro 6.
If that’s not confusing enough, consider the fact that there are in fact two different versions of the Surface Pro 6 and the Surface Laptop 2: one configured for business, and one for consumers. For the same configuration, Microsoft charges $100 more for a Surface Pro 6 for Business and $200 more for a Surface Laptop 2 for Business. (Business users and consumers must choose from the same Surface Studio 2 configurations.) The reason for the pricing difference? Microsoft offers business customers an optimized processor with Intel vPro support, as well as a more potent warranty option.
What this boils down to, though, is that Microsoft promised one thing and is delivering another. If the $999 Surface Laptop 2 remains available only as part of an Essentials bundle, that “starting at” price is pure fiction.
What this means to you: The fact that we saw Microsoft adjust the pricing for the Surface Pro 6 as we were writing the story—and after we had notified Microsoft that we were writing it—could mean that the company is rethinking its bundling strategy. Let’s hope so. Otherwise Microsoft is effectively promising one thing and delivering another—certainly for the Surface Laptop 2.