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Microsoft wants so as to add Thunderbolt to new Floor laptops


OPINION: If you happen to’ve bought a Floor laptop computer in the previous couple of years, you’ve most likely seen a quite massive omission: there’s no Thunderbolt. 

For these unaware, Thunderbolt is a port answer that appears an identical to the oval USB-C connection, however has quite a few added advantages. Not solely does the present technology Thunderbolt 4 customary get double the velocity for information transfers in comparison with customary USB-C, it additionally lets you hook up extra exterior screens and growth docks. 

Virtually each single laptop computer producer has adopted this know-how, with the likes of Acer, Asus, Dell, Lenovo and even Apple pledging assist. After which there’s Microsoft, which continues to be stubbornly refusing to make use of Thunderbolt on any of its Floor laptops. 

Thunderbolt cable

What’s the explanation for this? A leaked engineering webinar (as reported by The Verge) signifies that Microsoft refuses to make use of Thunderbolt as a result of it’s a safety threat.

“No Floor gadget has Thunderbolt. Why not? As a result of that’s a direct reminiscence entry port,” a Microsoft worker reportedly defined. “When you have a properly ready stick you could put into the direct reminiscence entry port, then you may entry the total gadget in reminiscence and all information that’s saved in reminiscence. We don’t imagine, at this second, that Thunderbolt can ship the safety that’s actually wanted from the gadgets.”

Nonetheless, Intel responded to this by releasing Thunderbolt 4, which options ‘VT-d primarily based DMA safety’ that supposedly helps to forestall safety threats by remapping requests from exterior gadgets and checking for correct permissions.

I’m probably not able to say whether or not that’s efficient sufficient, however with main laptop computer producers persevering with to assist Thunderbolt (together with the privacy-conscious Apple) then I’m inclined to imagine the safety is fairly tight. But regardless of the launch of Thunderbolt 4, Microsoft continues to be but to launch a laptop computer that helps it. 

I think that Microsoft has an ulterior motive, because it probably needs customers to be depending on the proprietary Floor Join port. Anybody who has owned a Floor laptop computer ought to know that is the magnetic port answer that isn’t solely used to cost the gadget, however will also be used to attach as much as different Microsoft equipment such because the Floor Dock 2 which prices a whopping £259.99. 

There’s nothing stopping Microsoft supporting each its personal Connector port and Thunderbolt 4 concurrently, however for the reason that latter has much better speeds and performance there can be much less of an incentive to purchase Microsoft’s personal branded equipment. 

We don’t know if this actually is the explanation behind Microsoft’s refusal to make use of Thunderbolt, but when correct it might be anti-consumer behaviour. You could possibly even argue that it’s dangerous for the surroundings, just like how Apple’s insistence on utilizing the Lightning connector cable – versus adopting the common USB-C – might be producing a number of unnecessary digital waste.

Surface Pro 7
Floor Professional 7 lacks Thunderbolt, however successor may lastly assist the know-how

The excellent news is that The Verge is suggesting Microsoft will lastly announce Thunderbolt assist for the Floor Professional 8 throughout its upcoming occasion on 22 September. Such an inclusion would instantly tackle certainly one of my main criticisms for modern-day Floor computer systems, so I’m actually hoping this report is correct. 

And if Microsoft continues to snub Thunderbolt? Properly I don’t imagine such an omission can be a deal breaker, however it’s nonetheless a unnecessary flaw that can give the likes of Apple, Dell and Lenovo a significant benefit. Come on Microsoft, type it out.


Ctrl+Alt+Delete is our weekly computing-focussed opinion column the place we delve deeper into the world of computer systems, laptops, elements, peripherals and extra. Discover it on Trusted Critiques each Saturday afternoon. 

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