Microsoft makeover for Surface Pro
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.
The fifth version of the Surface Pro.