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Surface Pro 4 2-in-1 leads the PC replacement pack

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 2-in-1 is a more likely PC replacement than Apple’s iPad Pro, thanks to Windows 10 and its Continuum feature.

The tech industry continues to search for a device that offers close to the same portability as a smartphone along with the productivity of a PC. Laptops have done the job for years, but people want something better and more versatile. Continuum, which lets Windows 10 switch between PC and tablet interfaces depending on the use case, provides that flexibility. Every Windows 10 2-in-1 has this feature, but Microsoft is dominating the market, according to IDC.

Meanwhile, the iPad hasn’t quite fulfilled its early promise as a mobile device that can also be a laptop PC replacement. Apple increased its screen size and added a keyboard with the iPad Pro, making the device more suitable to replace a laptop, but questions remain.

“There is a lack of a cursor on iPad, and the keyboard feels more of an add-on than integral part of the device like it is with the Surface,” said Bob O’Donnell, president at TECHnalysis Research in Foster City, Calif.

The iPad Pro runs iOS, Apple’s mobile operating system, and does not have a Continuum-like feature. That makes it run similarly to a mobile device even when the keyboard is attached. As such, the Surface Pro 4 2-in-1 is more like a laptop that can be used as a tablet, whereas the opposite holds true for the iPad Pro — and that’s good news for Microsoft.

The tablet market in general will dip by 6.5% by 2021, while the 2-in-1 market will grow by 21.2%, according to IDC’s Personal Computing Device Forecast.

In terms of computers in the enterprise, it is no secret that Windows runs the show. Apple has the leading mobile operating system in the workforce, but since we’re talking about which is more likely to replace your work laptop, the edge goes to the device with the OS that business PCs typically use.

“People do use Surface more for work, and it gets more consideration as a 2-in-1,” O’Donnell said. “With the iPad, despite the keyboard, it’s not the kind of thing people are doing with it.”

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