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HomeNewsDesigner says Microsoft decided against using Type-C ports in the Surface

Designer says Microsoft decided against using Type-C ports in the Surface

Why it matters to you

This answers the question as to why Microsoft chose to use the full-size USB Type-A port instead of the smaller, slimmer Type-C connection.

Microsoft introduced the Surface Laptop with a starting price of $999 during its education-themed press event on Tuesday, which also served as a launch pad for Windows 10 S. However, during the reveal and shortly thereafter, there were questions about the lack of USB Type-C ports. Funny thing is, there were two Type-C ports present on the prototype.

Just to be perfectly clear, the size of a USB port has nothing to do with the speed of data transfer but rather defines the physical connection. We have come to know and love the rectangular Type-A port over the decades, which relies on a one-side-up-only connection. Type-C uses a smaller rectangular port and a two-sided, fully-reversible connector so that there is no one-side-must-be-up connection.

While Type-C is more convenient for the user and takes up less space, manufacturers have muddied the Type-C waters with the talk of speed. Based on advertisement and a lack of information in hardware specs, customers are sometimes led to believe that Type-C is the fastest USB tech on the market and that is necessarily not the case.

After USB 2.0 dominated our devices for some time, USB 3.0 arrived sporting a blue Type-A port and a faster 5Gbps speed compared to 2.0’s 480Mbps. The color coding was meant to distinguish the USB 3.0 port from the USB 2.0 port so that users would know which one to use for peripherals that required faster transfer speeds.

But when the conglomerate that manages the USB standard revised the USB 3.0 spec to support 10Gbps transfers, it changed the name of the older 5Gbps connection to USB 3.1 Gen1 and the newer, faster connection to USB 3.1 Gen2. On the visual end, blue still defines the older 5Gbps connection (formerly USB 3.0) while the new tech uses red.

But then the Type-C port began appearing on notebooks partially due to Apple. The company used this connection on its super-thin laptops and iPhones primarily for power delivery and eventually Thunderbolt connectivity. On a whole, the fully reversible Type-C port makes total sense and manufacturers ran with the idea of implementing it into non-Apple products.

So when Microsoft revealed the Surface Laptop without a Type-C port, many began to question why. But look at the specs: It provides only one Type-A USB port (Gen1). Microsoft wanted to make sure that users, especially students given that the Surface Laptop is an education-themed device, did not run into compatibility issues with standard peripherals.

According to one Microsoft designer, the Type-C port has not fully matured, as there are reportedly still issues regarding power and cabling. Plus, the port has yet to fully saturate the non-Apple laptop market. Thus by using Type-A, students can plug in their existing mouse or other peripheral and continue without having to worry about getting a new peripheral or a Type-A to Type-C adapter.

The Surface Laptop will ship on June 15 in four configurations, as shown below:

Intel CPU:
Core i5-7200U
Core i5-7200U
Core i7-7660U
Core i7-7660U
Intel graphics:
HD 620
HD 620
Iris Plus 640
Iris Plus 640

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