How Microsoft built a computer so good, even Apple wanted to copy it

On May 20, 2014, Satya Nadella — the recently appointed CEO of Microsoft — sat down next to Microsoft Surface boss Panos Panay in a packed New York City auditorium.

They were there to launch the Surface Pro 3, the newest version of Microsoft’s tablet.

“This is a big day,” Nadella told Panay. “Let’s get it right.”

The pressure was on: The first generation of Surface tablets had performed so badly in the market, Microsoft had to take a $900 million write-down for unsold inventory in 2013. The second Surface hadn’t fared much better.

Nadella had told Panay that the third version had to be right: “We need to make hardware that gives us permission to be in hardware.”

 panay knew what he was up against, but he was confident they were going to get it right on the third try. “You have a vision. You have a whole vision. It’s never one generation that’s going to get you there,” Panay tells Business Insider.

Now Microsoft has won a reputation as the trendsetter in tablets, with companies like Dell and HP following suit.

And when Apple announced the iPad Pro in late 2015, the whole world couldn’t help but notice that, with its keyboard cover and big screen, it looked a lot like the Microsoft Surface Pro 4.

Last year also saw the launch of the Microsoft Surface Book, the company’s very first actual laptop, to positive reviews, with Wired calling it “the most exciting Windows laptop in years.”

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