“There is a tradition of us getting funding with pretty crappy prototypes,” admits Ralf Groene, Microsoft's head of industrial design, as he sits proudly next to the Surface Studio during its launch event in New York City last week. Those “crappy prototypes” include the original Surface RT concept, that was an acrylic sheet with a piece of string attached. Microsoft started with the basic concept of propping up a tablet on a table and typing, and the first prototype went to Panos Panay, head of Microsoft’s Surface devices, to approve. “In those crappy prototypes, the idea is pure because it’s easy to make good-looking design models with all chrome and details, and it kind of hides away from what it actually is at its core.” Solving the Surface Studio hinge problem relied on what Microsoft wanted the product to be. Microsoft started with the idea of having a device you could move the screen into a drawing mode, and it took some time to get to the final product that Microsoft unveiled last week. "We built these working contraptions where you'd grab the device and there was a capacitive sensor behind the screen and it would unlock a mechanism and it would go CRSSSH," explains Groene, excitedly making the machine's sounds. "Then you'd move it and let go and it would go CHERRRK." Although it sounds, in more ways than one, like an interesting mechanism, the team ultimately decided it was "too robotic." The bulk of the Studio is a 28-inch display mounted on a pair of "zero gravity" hinges that allow it to act as a regular monitor or fold down into "Studio mode" for a writing and drawing surface. In addition to 10-point multitouch, the display allows for interaction with a Surface Pen and a new accessory called the Surface Dial -- a small metal puck that can be placed against the screen and rotated. The display runs at an ultrahigh resolution (4,500 x 3,000) and can switch between the wide DCI-P3 colour gamut and the more common sRGB with the push of a button -- a useful feature allowing designers to see what their creations will look like on other devices. Inside the base is a pretty powerful PC. The $3,000 model comes with an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 2GB GeForce GTX 965M GPU and a 1TB hybrid drive, while the high-end $4,200 model has a Core i7 CPU, 32GB of RAM, a 4GB GeForce GTX 980M graphics card and a 2TB drive. At those prices, with the incredibly high-spec display and the focus on Pen input, the Studio is clearly not meant for the average user. Microsoft says it's "designed for the creative process," pitching it as the centre of your workflow. But is this what that market wants, or needs? We spoke with a number of professionals across multiple fields, from video-game design to illustration, to gauge their initial reaction and see what Microsoft needs to nail for the Studio to be a success. This is Microsoft's first attempt at a desktop, and the first time any company has tried to put this level of functionality into a single, standalone device. Put the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book next to the original Surface and Surface RT, and it's easy to see what a difference some refinement can make. It'll certainly be interesting to see how improved the Studio is in four years. If it really wants to own this niche market, it'll need to produce Studios with different screen sizes, performance levels and price points. But, from initial reactions, Microsoft is off to a very good start.