There’s no doubt that Microsoft’s premier detachable tablet, the Surface Pro 8, is an excellent 2-in-1 for consumers. It’s fast, has a spectacular 120Hz display, supports inking with haptic feedback, and functions as both a competent clamshell laptop and a phenomenal Windows 11 tablet.Contents
But how well does it work for business users? The short answer is “very well,” but read on for some important considerations when using the Surface Pro 8 as a business machine.
Yes, that’s right, there’s a Surface Pro 8 for Business version sold through a different Microsoft site than the consumer version. You’ll want to start there in making your selection.
The differences between the business and consumer versions aren’t extreme, but they’re still notable. First, the Surface Pro 8 for Business runs Windows 11 Pro rather than the Home version that ships with the consumer model. That gives businesses more control over the machine, including the ability to join the 2-in-1 to a domain, Windows Information Protection (WIP) for greater security, and more ways to manage it centrally. The latter includes group policies, mobile device management, support for Active Directory, and more.
The business version is almost identical to the consumer model in terms of hardware. That includes the upgradeable solid-state drive (SSD), which is a plus for any business owner who may need more storage down the road. It also offers optional LTE for always-connected internet, a huge plus for mobile professionals.
Buy Microsoft’s Complete warranty, and you’ll get a machine that’s easier for businesses to manage and protection from spills and accidents. Microsoft also offers Advanced Exchange for the business model, meaning you can receive a replacement machine before sending back your Surface Pro 8 for repair.
Finally, Microsoft offers special financing options for the Surface Pro 8 for Business, including the Surface All Access for Business plan that allows payments to be spread out over 18, 24, 30, or 36 months with zero interest. That can make a significant difference for a company that’s looking to buy multiple units — and Microsoft has special business pricing for volume purchases as well.
So, how does the Surface Pro 8 for Business itself perform for business users? Just as well as it does for consumers, but with the added ability to access corporate resources. That’s an important difference, making the tablet as functional on corporate networks as any other laptop.
As we’ve noted in our review, the Surface Pro 8 is the best detachable tablet you can buy. It offers exceptional productivity performance thanks to 11th-generation Intel Core CPUs, up to 32GB of RAM, and up to 1TB of storage. The display is larger at 13 inches than the previous model 12.3 inches, with smaller bezels to make for a tablet that’s only slightly larger and heavier than before. The display is bright with solid colors and exceptional contrast for an IPS display, and perhaps most important, it runs at 120Hz for a buttery-smooth Windows 11 experience. Its 2880 x 1920 resolution at the productivity-friendly 3:2 aspect ratio makes for a great experience for business users who need access to lots of vertical information.
Connectivity has been improved, with the addition of Thunderbolt 4 to the usual Surface Connect port giving far more flexible external display options and the ability to attach to external GPU enclosures for improved gaming (yes, business users game, too) and creative application performance (perhaps more pertinent). The latter ability can help make up for the machine’s integrated Intel Xe graphics with a discrete GPU that can help burn through demanding creative tasks. Finally, the ability to add LTE support is huge for business users and nicely augments the Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2.
As always, while a costly option, the Microsoft Signature Type Cover makes for a superb typing and mousing experience. It’s the best detachable keyboard around. And the Surface Slim 2 pen supports haptic feedback for a more pencil-on-paper feel. The Surface Pro 8 works great as a traditional laptop and even better as a tablet for making handwritten notes and sketches.
Battery life isn’t quite as strong as you’ll find on more traditional clamshell business machines. It’s improved over the Surface Pro 7, but not by as much as we’d like. Depending on how demanding your workflow is, the Surface Pro 8 may not make it through a full day’s work on a single charge. The positive is that the charger is lightweight and easy enough to carry around.
Given the upgrade to Windows 11 Pro, the Surface Pro 8 for Business is slightly more expensive than the consumer equivalent. Prices start at $1,100 for a Core i3 (which isn’t available on the consumer model), 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. You’ll pay $1,200 for the Core i5 version, compared to the consumer model’s $1,100 price. That $100 premium extends across all the Surface Pro 8 for Business configurations. You can also opt for the LTE version, which is limited to the 16GB RAM and 256GB SSD options for both the Core i5 and Core i7 models. At most, you’ll spend $2,700 for a Core i7, 32GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD.
Absolutely. You can set it up in your work or home office with an external GPU and get superior creative application performance or use it on the road as a real productivity powerhouse. It’s great in meetings, where you can use the pen to take notes and make sketches more fluidly and naturally than by typing on a clamshell. And it’s great for videoconferencing thanks to its 5MP webcam with tuning that optimizes video performance.
You may not get some of the enhanced business features as with some business laptops, particularly those from Dell, HP, and Lenovo, that build in more advanced business features. But then again, you won’t find another detachable tablet that’s as well-designed and built as the Surface Pro 8. If your work includes any kind of creative tasks or copious notetaking and video conferencing, then the Surface Pro 8 for Business is a solid choice.