Surface Pro 3 was released 7 years ago today, and it changed everything

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When it comes to the Surface Pro line, the Surface Pro 3 is arguably the one that let Surface find its place. Previous versions of the Surface Pro relied on a typical 16:9 10.8-inch full HD, whereas Surface Pro 3 jumped to the now-familiar 3:2 aspect (while also bumping the size to 12-inches at 2160 x 1440).

Announced on May 20 in New York City at a private press event, the Surface Pro 3 also swapped Wacom for N-trig pen technology, a color change to platinum, optional Core i7, lighter chassis, Connected Standby, and dual 5MP cameras. It is, in other words, a massive upgrade from Surface Pro 2. Even the Type Cover improved with a 60% larger new glass trackpad with a mechanical click.

And Microsoft later bought N-trig because it liked it so much.

CNN TapperWe see you, Jake.Source: @_Melbourneer_

Interestingly, the Surface Pro 3 online manual even confirmed the existence of Surface Mini, a device we’d review five years later. There were also funny anecdotes like CNN’s Jake Tapper hiding an iPad behind Surface Pro 3 (Tapper later explained the fake controversy) and Microsoft having to teach the NFL that Surface wasn’t an iPad.

I also distinctly remember this day as it was the first Surface even Windows Central was invited to, and it kicked off what became an almost annual announcement and review cycle for the Surface Pro line.

Later, in January 2015, it was revealed the Surface division, for the first time, brought in $1.1 billion in revenue, driven by Surface Pro 3 holiday sales. It later hit $2 billion in 2021, primarily due to a much more diversified lineup.

Surface Pro 3

Behold, Surface Pro 3!Source: Windows Central

The Surface Pro 4 was released 17 months later and delivered what we now call the ‘classic’ Surface Pro design featuring a larger 12.3-inch 2763 x 1824 screen, improved cameras, Windows Hello for the first time, and other modest changes. I said about it in 2015 it was the first Surface to be taken seriously:

Surface Pro 4 is the first Surface to be reviewed as itself as opposed to the concept behind it. Most of the Surface Pro 3 reviews relentlessly questioned the need for the Surface and whether the category could even succeed for Microsoft instead of being some wacky experiment.

In late 2019, I called Surface Pro the most important PC of the 2010s. I stick with that.

The big question now is, will Surface Pro 8, which we anticipate later this year, again redefine Surface Pro? The recent release of the ‘business-only Surface Pro 7+ suggests that the model lives on for enterprise and IT departments only while a new consumer version can break free of the same-old chassis design. Who knows, maybe we finally get Thunderbolt 4, thinner bezels, and some new screen technology, all of which are sorely needed.

Which Surface Pro was your favorite, and which one do you think defined Microsoft’s game-changing PC? Let us know in comments along with what you think Surface Pro 8 needs to be a winner.

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