Microsoft Surface: Security concerns responsible for the lack of Thunderbolt & upgradable RAM (allegedly)
Microsoft has engineered some very exciting devices under the Surface brand in the last years. From the original hybrid tablet line Surface Pro to the Surface Book and the Surface Laptop: All of these Microsoft Surface devices have delivered quality designs with great screens, especially since Microsoft switches to the 3:2 aspect-ratio for the screens.
However, as all devices, they are not perfect. If there are two consistent weak-points to be named, one would be a lack of upgradability – Microsoft surface devices have been notoriously hard to repair. Another is the inexplicable lack of Thunderbolt 3. The powerful standard that enables advanced accessories like external GPUs is just not available on any Surface laptop or tablet. Even USB-C was long missing, with Microsoft only recently adopting it instead of the obsolete miniDisplayPort. However, Thunderbolt 3 is still not present.
We may have an explanation as to why that is: In a leaked presentation about the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3, a Microsoft spokesperson explains that Microsoft omitted Thunderbolt 3 out of security concerns. According to him, the port grants direct memory-access, which is a security liability that Microsoft wanted avoid. Security concerns are also the reason why the Surface Laptop 3 lacks upgradable RAM, as someone could freeze the removable RAM stick to read out private data.
Of course, without an official confirmation from Microsoft, this should be taken with a grain of salt. In any case, it would interest us if our readers find this argument convincing or not. After all, leaving out those features has other advantages as well. Thunderbolt 3 chips cost a few dollars per device and upgradable RAM does take up some space compared to a soldered solution.