Microsoft’s new releases suggest a willingness to think outside the box... and it’s an approach that may help them stand out from the crowd
ANOTHER week, another rash of new releases from one of the world’s biggest tech companies. It’s nice to see that Microsoft, the old and venerable purveyor of the once ubiquitous Windows operating system, is still in the game, showing off some innovative technology as it revealed its “holiday line-up” for 2019.
Microsoft may lag behind the biggest hardware-makers at the moment, but it’s still raking in cash with Windows – and deep pockets combined with underdog status can bring into being some really off-the-wall stuff.
While this year’s line-up is pretty uninspiring, what Microsoft plans to do next year has turned some heads…
THE first of two genuinely interesting devices Microsoft teased for release next year is the Surface Neo – a dual-screen tablet which runs on Windows 10X – Microsoft describes that as an “expression of Windows 10”, whatever that means.
The software is considerably less interesting than the hardware. Instead of going for bendable screens like Samsung, Microsoft has built a two-screen device with hinges that can fold through a full 360 degrees. This means the system can adapt to how you use it – it has two 9in screens, which when open, will offer a 13in display.
Microsoft says it will be fully featured with performance and productivity like a “true PC”. There’s a removable keyboard and support for the Surface Pen and a Bluetooth mouse. There’s no word yet on how much it’ll cost, but it looks quite different to anything else on the market.
THE Surface Duo is more or less the Neo’s little sibling – a dual screen device also with a 360-degree hinge, it’s designed to fit in your pocket. The two 5.6in screens will give 8.3in of display when open.
The other difference between the two folding devices is that the Duo runs on Android, not Windows. This opens the device up to the whole world of Android apps and is a smart move on Microsoft’s part.
Like the Duo, there’s no release date beyond the vague 2020 aim, and pricing is also a mystery.
SURFACE PRO 7
From £799 (out on October 22) MICROSOFT also offered updates to its current line-up of devices – with an all-new Surface Pro, now up to version number 7. This retains the tried-and-tested look and feel of the previous generation 2-in-1 device (it’s both a laptop AND a tablet), but doubles the processing speed with the latest 10th generation Core chips from Intel. There’s both USB-A and USB-C connectivity, and all-day battery life. The Pro 7 comes in platinum or black, but you can jazz the whole thing up with the wide variety of coloured accessories, including covers, mice and pens.
COMING later this year are Microsoft’s first true wireless earbuds. The Surface Earbuds follow the usual trend – in-ear buds that live in a charging case. This provides 24-hour battery life. There’s also simple one-touch pairing with your device.
What is new from Microsoft is the look of the Surface Buds. The large circular shape may just develop the iconic status Apple’s Airpods enjoy now.
There’s no UK release date or price yet, but in the US they’ll cost $250.
SURFACE LAPTOP 3
From £999 (out on October 22) MICROSOFT has updated its Surface Laptop, now on to version three.
There’s the usual speed bump as well as the addition of two new colours – Sandstone and Cobalt. The new graphics chip inside from AMD makes the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft says, “the fastest 15in laptop you can buy”.
The cameras, glass trackpad and the audio have all been upgraded.
SURFACE PRO X
From £999 (out on November 19) THE Surface Pro X is Microsoft’s next generation Surface device and sports all manner of improvements across the board.
There’s a new chip, designed by Microsoft in collaboration with Qualcomm.
The device looks the part, too – it’s thinner and has smaller bezels round the screen.
The new Pro X keyboard attachment also sports a handy slot for storing (and charging) the new slimmed down Surface Pen.
Specced up: The revamped Surface Pro X gets a host of major improvements
Speeded up: The Surface Laptop 3
Surface Neo, top, and Duo