6 things you need to know about the Microsoft Surface Laptop

Microsoft might have singled out students for its first proper laptop, but it's not quite so simple

Looking for a lightweight, luxurious laptop? 

That used to mean heading to the Apple Store, but Microsoft has just unveiled a very tempting alternative. The Surface Laptop ditches the detachable keyboards and helpful hinges of the Surface Pro for a no-nonsense form factor, but doubles down on design, performance and battery life to tempt you away from OS X.

It's running a new version of Windows, and has a big focus on education, but this is much more than a premium Chromebook competitor.

Here's everything you need to know.

1) It's the best-looking Surface yet

Tipping the scales at 1.25kg and measuring just under 15mm at its thickest point, the Surface Laptop wants to be the ultimate ultra-portable. You won't spot any screws, seams or misplaced edges anywhere on the all-metal body, whether you pick one up in Platinum, Burgundy, Cobalt Blue or Graphite Gold colours.

There's not even a rubber bumper or plastic frame around the display - something not even Apple's MacBook Pro can claim. The precision engineering on show is seriously impressive.

That applies to the keyboard, too. It's covered in Alcantara, the same material you'd find on the steering wheel of an Italian supercar, and laser-etched to stop any and all light leaking out from the backlit keys. It stealthily hides the speakers, pumping sound from beneath the keyboard with no visible grilles or holes.

Apple used to be at the pinnacle of laptop design, but Microsoft might have just taken the crown.

2) It's running Windows 10 S

The Surface Laptop is the debut device for Microsoft's Windows 10 S, a cut-down version of the ubiquitous OS built specifically for schools.

Don't think of it as a mere Chrome OS knock-off, though: it might only be able to run apps you download through the Windows Store, but it's got a lot more controls and settings for teachers. That'll make sure little Timmy isn't secretly playing games when he's supposed to be learning his times tables.

He could be playing Minecraft, though - or at least the special Education Edition that's available for all WIndows 10 S users.

3) It's got all the performance you need...

With Intel's latest Core i5 and Core i7 mobile CPUs on board, and up to 1TB of PCI-E storage bolted directly onto the motherboard, the Surface Laptop should be seriously quick. Microsoft reckon it'll outpace a MacBook Pro in certain tests - not bad for something that costs significantly less cash.

This is partly down to how the Laptop's metal frame is directly hooked up to the vapour chamber heat pipes keeping the internal hardware cool, meaning the whole thing acts as a giant heatsink. It keeps everything running to temperature, without burning a hole through your crotch while you're working on it.

Open the lid and the Laptop should boot up in under 10 seconds - that's Chromebook quick.