Microsoft Takes the Cautious Route With Surface Updates

Windows Surface Hero

This week in NYC, Microsoft unveiled several updates to its popular Surface hardware. The Studio, Pro, and Laptop were all updated with new internals and Microsoft also tossed in a new color option for the Pro and Laptop as well.

At the event, Microsoft updated the branding for the Surface Pro, whereas the company previously launched Surface Pro 3, Pro 4, Pro, and now the Pro 6; officially there was no ‘ Pro 5’. The new device utilizes Intel’s 8th generation Quad-Core CPU and the Surface Laptop 2 is also getting the same processor as well.

Both devices come in a new black color that feels a bit more durable than what shipped with the original Surface Pro several years ago. One thing that these new devices do not ship with is USB-C which is an odd omission considering that the Surface Studio and Go now support the format.

Surface Pro Hero Windows

The Surface Studio was updated with a new display that is 38% brighter with 22% increased contrast, and the GPU is now from NVIDIA’s Pascal family. The Studio does not come in black and retains its original color that matches the Surface Book 2 and other Surface hardware.

From an update perspective, Microsoft played it overly-cautious. The company didn’t deliver the heavily-requested USB-C port for the Pro or Laptop, nor did they deliver Thunderbolt 3 to any of the company’s products. Considering the Studio is the company’s flagship product, it’s a bit disappointing that we will have to wait for another refresh for that technology to arrive if it ever does.

Further, the CPU in the Studio is a 7th generation, and while the GTX 1060/1070 GPU options are good, they will age quickly with NVIDIA announcing the 20XX a few weeks back. But, you can’t underscore that putting a quad-core CPU into the Pro is a big deal and will help performance-intensive tasks which is always a good thing.

The one brand new product that the company did announce at the event is a new headset. The headphones, which will cost you $350, are a premium pair of cans that feature advanced noise-cancellation technology that you can control with a dial on the side of the device.

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You can also use Cortana with the headset and that feature will work with Windows, Android, and iOS; the headset connects via Bluetooth and will support handling calls as well.

I got to try the headset and it is incredibly comfortable; it was hard to get a good grasp on the audio quality but noise cancellation worked quite well in the noisy keynote environment. For the price, they are certainly not cheap but for the right crowd who are used to buying Bose headsets, the price is in-line with those products.

Overall, Microsoft’s event was exactly what we expected. A modest update to the specs to the company’s core products and a new color as well. Did they hit a home run? They didn’t, but all they were shooting for was single and that’s all they needed as they have a well-established product line that has sold well for the company and should continue to do so for the foreseeable future.