Microsoft made no secret about what was in its sights at the launch of the Surface Pro 3 on Tuesday, using Apple's MacBook Air as a comparison.

Microsoft goes one step further than this, offering the MacBook Pro up as a comparison on its pre-order page on its US website. The comparison is missing from the UK site, which is no surprise: marketing in the UK tends to be less about shooting the enemy down.

Running with the message that the Surface Pro 3 will replace your laptop, it's easy to look to the archrival. You can hardly offer a comparison with those lovely Windows 8.1 laptops being made by all your hardware partners, can you?

There's some sense in it: Surface Pro 3 is a fully-fledged Windows device so rivals the MacBook models in many areas, like some of the hardware - the choice of fourth-gen Core i processors, plenty of RAM, and the abililty to run fully-fledged applications, for example.

There's a Pro moniker too, making for a nice tiny comparison. Microsoft went on to point out that many people own a MacBook and an iPad, and with the Surface Pro 3, you could have one device that does it all.

Microsoft even went as far as demonstrating that you can use a Surface Pro 3 - with attached Type Cover and kickstand deployed - on your lap, just like a laptop.

We can't help feeling that a lot of this effort is misplaced, however. The Surface Pro 3, like it or not, is a tablet and the MacBook - Pro or Air - is a laptop.

The Microsoft pre-order page targets a number of areas - travel, touch, laptop & tablet, get work done, write naturally, and capture the moment - each used to point out some deficiency with the MacBook Pro.

It rightfully points out that a tablet is lighter than a laptop, there's no touch on the MacBook display, there's no accessory pen and you can't detach the keyboard. Oh, there's no camera on the rear either for those essential snaps. 

The only credit that Microsoft hands to Apple is the fact the MacBook will run Microsoft Office, but then appends this with "but can't run many software programs you may need to get work done".

It's here we find the message a bit difficult to swallow. The form factor of these devices isn't something that can be dismissed with an accessory keyboard that costs £109 and a kickstand.

Yes, Surface Pro 3 with a keyboard is going to be a more powerful productivity device than an iPad with keyboard, but a Type Cover doesn't offer anything like the keyboard experience of a MacBook Pro, Air, or any number of Windows Ultrabooks. It's an entirely different thing.

Let's not forget that the MacBook also offers one of the best touchpad experiences you'll find on a laptop, although many Ultrabooks offer a close experience these days.

We can accept that some will favour Windows over Mac OS and there's always going to be a software disparity between the two platforms, but this is more like comparing apples and pears.

Nowhere does it mention that a MacBook Air or Pro will give you longer battery life, or that you can pick the thing up and wave it around by the keyboard, or that you can get a higher resolution display, or that there's an HDMI output, and so on.

The Surface Pro 3 looks like a powerful device, and for those than want something that's tablet based, it might be perfect. But we can't see that those who want a laptop for its established and very effective working form factor - be that an awesome Windows 8 PC or a Mac - will swap to using a tablet.

Microsoft's war isn't really against the MacBook, it's really trying to push into a new category, for those who don't need a conventional format laptop and that includes a huge number of Windows devices too.

Apple's Q2 2014 earnings reveal that it sold 4.1 million Macs (of all type) in that quarter. There's no monetary value declared. Microsoft on the other hand declared $893 million revenue in Q2 2014 for Surface, but sadly with no actual number on units sold.

But the moral of the story is this: if you need and want a laptop, you'll buy a laptop. If you want a Mac, you'll buy a Mac. If you want an iPad too, you'll buy an iPad. If you want a powerful replace-your-Windows-laptop tablet, you might buy a Surface Pro 3.

Surface Pro 3 will be available from £639 arriving in August 2014; the MacBook Air starts at £749, available now.