By: Sarah White
When the original Microsoft Surface debuted, no one really knew what to make of it, but that didn’t stop Microsoft from improving on its unique hybrid device year after year. The company says it has worked to hone in on what consumers and business users want from a tablet-hybrid device. And it worked, because now the Surface Pro 4 is one of the most popular hybrid tablets on the market — so popular, in fact, that the company has started expanding its lineup of Surface devices, starting with the Surface Book.
So what’s next for the company? If you believe the rumors, then we’ll likely see announcements from Microsoft about a number of new Surface devices, as well as an updated Surface Pro and Surface Book, as early as this fall.
Rumor has it that Microsoft is testing out three new Surface all-in-one devices to release later this year, according to a report from The Verge. While no one is sure what an all-in-one Surface device would look like, The Verge reports that sources close to Microsoft suggest the company is looking at “traditional PC form factors” to add to the Surface lineup.
Windows Central reports three potential sizes for the rumored Surface AIOs, citing a possible 21-inch full HD model as well as a 24-inch and 27-inch 4K models. A Surface desktop device could serve as a modern take on the traditional desktop — likely integrating the touch experience in a larger format than the Surface Pro or Surface Book. While the devices aren’t confirmed, Daniel Rubino of Windows Central suggests that, whatever it is, it’s intended to be an “elegant device” that you will want to display in your living room.
Last month DigiTimes (registration required) reported that the AIO would be released in the third quarter, but some are hesitant about that date as we move further into the quarter. The Surface AIO might come as a response to Apple’s Mac all-in-one desktops, according to a report from Forbes; just as the iPad Pro came as a response to the Surface Pro 4, Microsoft may be trying to edge in on Apple’s desktop market.
Windows phones don’t have a very impressive track record, but if the rumors are true, that isn’t going to stop Microsoft from breaking into the smartphone market. Sources suggest we might see a Surface smartphone, potentially featuring a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, 4GB of RAM and Windows 10. An alternative version has also been kicked around, with a purported 5GB of RAM and an Intel Atom X3 processor.
The News Independent reportedly revealed leaked images of the Surface phone – it appeared to have a 5.5-inch AMOLED display with an aluminum and magnesium chassis, but the images have since been removed from the article. The device is expected to work with the Surface Pen and will integrate with Microsoft Continuum, which syncs Windows 10 devices to allow for a more integrated experience when you go from a smartphone or tablet to a notebook.
Surface Pro 5 and Surface Book 2
Over at Windows Central, expect updates to the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book, but don’t expect drastic changes. Changes will likely consist of minor cosmetic improvements and an internal overhaul of the hardware — the possibility of an upgraded Type Cover has also been kicked around.
The Surface Book is expected to see updates in performance, with Windows Central suggesting the device will be equipped with Intel’s Kaby Lake processor, which supports 3D and 4K graphics. However, if the device does ship with Kaby Lake processors, that will push the release date out until 2017, due to delayed shipments of the CPUs, according to DigiTimes.
Windows Central also reports expected changes to the design of the Surface Book — specifically closing the gap on the hinge so the display sits flush on the keyboard. Currently, when the device is shut there is a gap between the keyboard and display — something customers weren’t too happy with in terms of aesthetics.
According to leaked images of product placeholders at a Windows Surface store, the next Surface Pro and Surface Book are expected to launch in 2017. As PC Advisor points out, the leaked photo suggests that we will see three new devices announced for next year; some expect the announcement to come in October of this year, while others point to Spring of 2017.
The Bit Bag also cites the recent price drop of the Surface Pro 4 as evidence of a forthcoming Surface Pro 5 — companies like Microsoft and Apple will typically lower the cost of the current model on the market to clear out stock for the new version.
The Bit Bag says that the Surface Pro 5 and Surface Book 2 might also be held back by the release of Windows 10 Redstone 2, Microsoft’s upcoming operating system release. The two devices are expected to ship with the latest OS, holding up the announcement of the devices until the software is ready — no word yet on pricing, but sources expect it to remain in the $900 to $1500 range, depending on the configuration.