Mi­crosoft makeover for Sur­face Pro

The National - News - Business - - The Life - Dina Bass

Mi­crosoft has un­veiled a new ver­sion of its Sur­face Pro tablet and lap­top com­bi­na­tion device with more pow­er­ful chips and bet­ter bat­tery life, up­dat­ing an age­ing prod­uct with de­clin­ing sales that hurt fi­nan­cial results last quar­ter. The Red­mond, Washington-based com­pany in­tro­duced the fifth ver­sion of the Sur­face Pro at a re­cent event in Shang­hai, the first time it has held the launch of a ma­jor prod­uct out­side the US. Mi­crosoft also an­nounced a ver­sion of Win­dows 10 for use by the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment and state-owned en­ter­prises, end­ing a stand-off over the op­er­at­ing sys­tem by meet­ing the gov­ern­ment’s re­quests for in­creased se­cu­rity and data con­trol.

Sur­face Pro is the work­horse of the com­pany’s com­puter hard­ware line. It’s the biggest seller among the Sur­face de­vices, a cat­e­gory that Mi­crosoft cre­ated – the two-in-one, or a tablet with a re­mov­able key­board. Yet Mi­crosoft’s Pro 3 and 4 are age­ing, and part­ners like Len­ovo Group and HP have come out with their own Win­dows-based ver­sions that give Mi­crosoft soft­ware rev­enue but take away hard­ware sales. Mean­while Ap­ple’s take on the cat­e­gory, the iPad Pro, has been steal­ing market share.

Those fac­tors con­trib­uted to a 26 per cent drop in Sur­face sales last quar­ter. The new ver­sion should turn that around, says Yusuf Me­hdi, who over­sees marketing for de­vices and Win­dows. The device has 13.5 hours of bat­tery life, a 50 per cent im­prove­ment over the pre­vi­ous ver­sion, and runs In­tel’s faster sev­enth gen­er­a­tion Core chips.

“We have shown it to cor­po­rate ac­counts al­ready and the re­ac­tion has been very pos­i­tive,” he says. “We are op­ti­mistic this will get a good start out of the gate.”

The Pro is avail­able for pre-or­ders from to­day start­ing at US$799 and goes on sale June 15, the same day as the Sur­face Lap­top Mi­crosoft an­nounced ear­lier this month. The device has a new kick­stand that lets it fold al­most flat to re­sem­ble a draft­ing ta­ble, sim­i­lar to the pricier Sur­face Stu­dio com­puter, and the Pro can now be con­trolled on screen by the Sur­face Dial device that Mi­crosoft in­tro­duced with the Stu­dio.

Cour­tesy Mi­crosoft

The fifth ver­sion of the Sur­face Pro.

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