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Why 2017 is the year of Microsoft Surface

Surface logo
Surface logo (Image credit: Windows Central)

With this week's launch of the Surface Book 2, Microsoft's program to showcase Windows 10 through hardware seems to have finally hit its stride. It's a drastic change from just a few years ago, when the company had a $900 million "inventory adjustment" due to the Surface RT. That, along with general skepticism of the form factor of Surface Pro, had many in the business calling for Microsoft just to give up.

In 2017 alone, the company released Surface Pro, Surface Laptop, and Surface Book 2. (Surface Studio also launched outside the U.S., which is not insignificant). The same hardware group spearheaded the design and manufacturing of the new 4K-enabled Xbox One X, which is evidently setting sales records and beating expectations.

As someone who has been covering Surface since its launch in 2012, I can point to a few observations about this year's releases.

A look back, and a shift forward

The Surface RT was a huge misfire.

The Surface RT was a huge misfire.

Almost every Surface launch has seen enthusiasm followed by the reality of real-world issues and bugs. While these problems did not affect all devices, it was enough to cause some to lose faith (see the Consumer Reports debacle).

The Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book from 2015 are recent examples where a new Intel chipset, combined with a brand-new OS and a dash of crazy new hardware (Windows Hello camera) caused a ton of problems. Those complaints went on for months, and I have heard it was a high-stress time in Redmond because it was unclear how much could be fixed. Luckily, most of the issues were resolved through later firmware updates.

I mention this because in following support forums, Reddit, our article comments, the new Surface Pro, Surface Studio, and Surface Laptop seem to have escaped this unsettling trend. Even with Surface Book 2, I didn't find a single bug, crash, or "must be an early driver" problem.

None of that implies things are perfect. Reports of coil whine, complaints about light bleed, and some battery issues are all still realities that hardware manufacturers must face. Making PCs is not easy – and it's something HP, Dell, and Lenovo have enjoyed watching Microsoft try and occasionally fail at.

Fewer deadlines and more perfection

Not only is it hard to make PC hardware, but it gets more difficult when you're creating all-new experiences. Microsoft has taken the dreary world of hinges and made it exciting. (Microsoft calls it hinges team, "hingengineers.") Removable displays, pushing thermal limits, making fanless designs, taking digital inking to new levels – all of that requires lots of investment, time, money, and talent.

With Surface Pro 4 and the original Surface Book, it felt like those products were rushed to market to match the release of Windows 10. There were no fatal flaws, per se, just the drivers and new OS felt green.

I've repeated on our podcast and my #AskDanWindows series that when it comes to new hardware, the Surface team now releases things "when they are ready." While I'm certain there are general timeline goals, such as "first half of 2017 would be nice," specific deadlines no longer apply. It now seems the Surface team has greater autonomy to create and only bring a product to market when it meets their standards without external pressure.

That choice results in longer in-between times, like the two-year gap between the original Surface Book and the new version, but patience pays off. It also makes predicting new Surface product releases difficult. There are no "refresh cycles" tied to 12- or 18-month calendars. Updated Surfaces only come now when there is substantial new hardware. Surface Pro (2017) looks a lot like Surface Pro 4, but it's wholly rebuilt with all new components.

There are also institutional changes. Besides the Microsoft hardware division having more autonomy and a more significant role in creation, it works more closely with the Windows group. We're starting to see that now with the OneNote team, Office, and more tailored software that leverages the power of Surface. It may seem like a given that Microsoft's hardware group should be talking to the Windows one, but those types of team changes on such a massive level take time, mainly to align schedules and plans.

Such internal cooperation had always dogged Microsoft – indeed, it was its mantra under Gates and Ballmer – but since 2014, those walls have come down.

What's next for Surface in 2018?

The goal of Surface was always to make Windows exciting, and to highlight the best of what it can do, including pushing new experiences. Ever since tablets started to take over, many analysts were saying the PC is dead. The opening line from a 2011 Forbes article about HP: "This laptop, netbook and desktop PC manufacturer is on the verge of death."

The tide has shifted in 2017. HP last quarter beat Wall Street expectations with strong sales in PCs for consumers and business. Dell, Lenovo, and Razer are all firing on all cylinders, releasing some of the most exciting hardware in years.

Surface Book 2

Surface Book 2 (Image credit: Windows Central)

Now it seems as if tablets are dead. PCs just need reinvention. Combine Intel's latest processors and, yes, Microsoft's Surface program sparking innovation, and we're entering a new age of PCs.

Windows 10 on ARM could be the next chapter. Though ARM processors still have a long way to go to catch up to Intel's x86 architecture for performance, the idea of small, foldable PCs that get all day battery life is very intriguing. Toss in inking and 4G LTE, and there are all sorts of exciting possibilities.

Windows Mixed Reality, while nascent, is also promising. Microsoft built a virtual, 3D version of its Windows desktop experience and gave it away for free with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. The software development kit is already here, and all those Windows Store apps already work in it. While it maybe not groundbreaking today, Microsoft laid the foundation for the next 20 years of augmented computing.

All of this should have you excited. Microsoft's Surface team is releasing what I think is hit after hit, learning lessons, and delivering exciting products to consumers to drive innovation. Just as importantly, Microsoft's partners are following right behind. I'm literally testing a gaming PC from HP right now the Omen X Compact Desktop (opens in new tab) that you can wear as a backpack with no cables for Windows Mixed Reality – it's nuts.

Microsoft Patent

Microsoft Patent (Image credit: Microsoft)

As to what Microsoft comes up with next in 2018, we have some ideas, like Windows Core OS and a foldable device. And I've never been more hopeful. With the imminent death of Windows on phones, we need something else in the mobile space from Microsoft, and I'm starting to feel confident it can get the job done. You should too.

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

132 Comments
  • Dan,are you confident Microsoft will release surface phone in 2018
  • I'm confident the Surface team will continue to create new, innovative product categories. That is all I'll commit to.
  • I have a feeling you have seen a prototype of surface phone
  • I have not. I have seen evidence of a foldable/split screen device, however.
  • Any new info about Andromeda ?
  • Stop asking that... If WC had information about anything interesting they would make an article when they are ready to talk about it.
  • It will be interesting to see what they come up with. A foldable screen with a screen on the outside (for when it's closed) and this gets disabled when it's open and plugged into a keyboard? Still needs to have continuum IMHO - but in reality there is still a big differece between 'big screen' software like Photoshop and 'small screen' software such as traditional phone apps. Let's see what they come up with.
  • At least something on the outside would be good. I would to buy one of these things only to have to open it every time I get a notification. A full screen might not be necessary though.
  • I mean I would hate to have to open the device every time I had to look at it, although being foldable you could probably carry it around with both screens facing outwards?
  • Evidence or something other than an artist's impression?
  • An artist's impression is not what I would consider "evidence" ever, so yes. Beyond that.
  • Sorry to be sceptical Dan but there have been too many MS false dawns and the time between announcements and deliveries are extreme. Is it any wonder that android and ios have overtaken MS to the point where Nadela and Belfiore have run up the white flag? 
  • So, would you consider the Codex, at the development stage the device reached, "evidence"?
  • Wait, what?
  • Awesome. I'm really looking forward to see what MS will have to offer. 
  • Sorry dan, if questions are bad.
  • I'm sure Microsoft understand they need a device who can make phone calls in the chain of strategy and devices. But in the same time it came to my mind, how often do I get a phone call, maybe 1 out of 100. Communication today is digital post/messages, and communication by calls is Skype and WhatsApp. How do I Use my sim card, 99,8 percent data. The directly phone number is 99,8 percent dead. We actually only needs a new kind of devices for communication and work. A phone number or call by a phone number is already outdated. A phone number is like a spare wheel in your car, only when you have a problem about your everyday connection.
  • I think there is now chance to bring back original Surface here (Succesor to Surface 3) with ARM powered 11" tablet with the same design as new Surface pro
  • You have clearly also signed an NDA with MS  :-)
  • Microsoft must be aware by now that it's the Surface not-Phone that everyone keeps asking about. Surface already has a device of the right size for pretty much all other needs so the only innovative stuff I can imagine coming out in 2018 is something to replace the 8 inch and the 5-6 inch device roles. That would be a Surface not-Phone and a Surface not-Tablet, which might even be one device with a fold. Personally I'd be extra pleased if they managed a bagable Surface not-Hub as well which used a projector and laser grid tech to create a projected touch screen, but I have odd dreams.
  • I'd still like to see a Surface Studio not-pc. Just the screen
  • Hi. I think Ms will create de surface phone but ms will needs to market it.
  • No, they are out of the phone market. They are hinting at a Surface not-Phone instead which would cover the pocket form factor and make phone calls, but would most certainly not be a phone (because Apple invented those). Then marketing will be simple, because who's going to keep using legacy phone technology when they could move on to ultra-modern not-phones instead to make their calls? That would be crazy. Welcome to the post-truth world.
  • I doubt it will pocketable and be looking to replace your phone. They cannot compete with Android or iOS. My guess is dual 7" screens that fold together when not in use. It would just be another tablet/laptop replacement. I really doubt they are serious about it though. They might be doing some testing and research, but it seems they are shutting down the ecosystem, not building it up. If they were planning on releasing any sort of device like this and had any faith in it, they would be doing everything they could to bolster the ecosystem. UWP would be their focus. That isn't the case at all.
  • But UWP is the keystone of Windows Mixed Reality? How is that not a focus? A 7 inch folding device that uses a good British ARM chip, is always on, fits in my pocket and makes calls (and is absolutely NOT a phone) would have me dumping my mobile phone for it in a second.
  • It isn't a focus because they haven't been releasing their new apps on UWP. Linked In is a web wrapper. Mixer isn't available. Groove is being demoted. Skype is being developed on Android/iOS first. There is no Outlook UWP app or really any Office apps that are fully fleshed out. If they were serious about it, they would be heavily developing UWP. Every Microsoft service would be rolling out with full UWP support and the best experience available on any platform. The fate of Windows is probably riding on it. Win32 gets more irrelevent everyday. Even with MR, I don't see any killer Microsoft apps. What will make MR take off is game changing software. It doesn't seem Microsoft is taking it seriously at all either.
  • Well, I'm not going to argue that MS aren't highly confused and riddled with incompetence as we all know that's true. I can't see why they've based MR on UWP if their INTENT is to knacker UWP (as it was with phones) though. I think they're just trying to make a platform that will make the effort of pushing UWP worth while. No point trying to gain traction if you've still to put the wheels on.
  • There is no Outlook UWP app or really any Office apps that are fully fleshed out.
    OneNote's development is being heavily focused on the UWP version rather than the classic desktop one, for the record.
  • That is one app. What about all the others? Where is the focus and dedication to their platform?
  • "That is one app. What about all the others? Where is the focus and dedication to their platform?" You shouldn't expect full Office to become fully UWP until after Windows 7 reaches end of life, they'd lose a lot of potential enterprise consumers otherwise. By then UWP will (hopefully) be mature enough to support apps as complex as desktop Word, Excel and Powerpoint without having to rely on dated Win32 code. 
  • I think it will be 7" for each screen and unfold to ~11" but with separate screens like the Courier. Basically a Surface Pro chopped in half with a hinge in the middle. That is what rumors are pointing to at least. Maybe, if they get traction with it, they will make a smaller version in the future.
  • I thought it would have a foldable screen though? That's what the patents seemed to suggest. Aren't Surface devices supposed to be ground-breaking?
  • All the current rumors are saying split displays with a hinge. Even Dan describes it this way in these comments. Folding screens are probably in the plans, but decent ones are years away. Samsung is supposed to release one next year, but it will likely be rough and low production.
  • Hmm, I think the extra screen might be a bit surplus to requirements in that kind of device. It's challenging to imagine. Perhaps it would be better if they just sold us some AR glasses and we could just download virtual handsets.
  • 7" which unfold to 11, have you even seen the patents?
  • With all these perfections and stuff, with no consumer focus I doubt it's success. I really like the Surface but how many people out there like it the way we do...especially after what those consumer reporters said about it. I was in a meeting earlier this week, we need about 20 portable PCs for some project so I recommended the Surface Pros and PCs (I don't work in the IT dept though), then the IT guys reject my proposal saying they needed real pcs, I was like what the ****? Do they know the Surface brand....it was like I was challenging and telling them how to do their job so I stopped and forgot about it. But then I thought of how badly people especially professionals perceive Microsoft and it's products nowadays and it hurts as a fan.
  • You send your IT to Surface training. That would help. They're normally very conservative because their life would be miserable if they recommend a bad product to the company.😏
  • Said it before, but I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft released a very Microsoft-skinned (Microsoft launcher, pre-loaded MS apps, etc) Android phone. This would allow Microsoft to get in the phone game TOMORROW, specially with the Surface name. No more app problem, overnight. They can modify the OS to be however they want, and bring some features that people loved about WinMobile. They can make Cortana the default assistant. And they can still make hardware innovations the Surface brand is known for. With them starting to sell the Galaxy S8/S8+ in their online store, and the way they are integrating Android phones with Windows. I wouldn't be surprised. People need to realize that even if this came true, it's still good for Microsoft because they'll be selling a lot of devices, so money in their pockets. I expect nothing but downvotes on this comment of course :)
  • Takes 18 months to create a phone from scratch, wasting millions of dollars and talent. The world literally does not need another Android phone. Samsung, LG, HTC, Huawei, OnePlus, even Razer all have phones now in a supersaturated market. What would be the point? Skin the phone? You can do that RIGHT NOW for free on any Android phone. This would be a complete waste of resources with NO return in value for Windows.
  • My thought would have been that they have already been working on it, not that they're starting now and still needing 18 months to do so. And the point would be that they can still bring hardware innovations to the device. It doesnt need to be a traditional phone. It can be foldable, or whatever they're working on now. In any case, my point was not to criticize the post at all, even if you seem to have taken it like that. Just offering an alternative scenario which solves some problems. Scénario which might not happen at all. Just saying.
  • I didn't take it as criticism, and in fact, I talk about this scenario on today's AskDan episode (coming later). I hear it a lot, but I just don't see any value in them doing so. Companies like LG and Samsung are so far ahead of the game it would be a waste of resources to make a phone with a competing OS.
  • Especially once MS release their new pocketable device that can make phone calls and cover the pocket form factor computing needs, as once that happens phones will be yesterday's tech and on the way out. 2018 will be the last days of the mobile phone, and the first days of the rise of the not-phone through Surface innovation. I can't wait for MS to just take my money on this. By this time next year I expect to be looking for good deals on not-phones. No point in buying a phone of any kind come 2018 as it would be an investment in dying technology.
  • It seems to me Andy that phones can do most of the computing that I need, not want, to do already. 
  • But not-phones could do it better, so people wouldn't need laptops and tablets.
  • Highly unlikely I'd give up my laptop for a tablet for real work. Sorry.
  • People forget that MS is mainly a software company. The surface line is purely an example of how great hardware makes the software shine. The idea is to get 3rd party hardware companies a platform (or guide) to build upon. MS has zero need to build an Android phone.
  • No return? People are forced to move away from windows, because no phone, and in the process are getting impressed by nifty features from google/apple, they explore further, leave other ms products etc ad infinitum. The skinning you can do for almost free, is to say the least, underwhelming, it's still the frustrating mix of styles so common to android. The return would be loyal customers, ms android apps for the phone, same apps on surface/pc and lock those paying folks in. Now all those other options, foldable this and that, it might well be, but knowing ms track record, knowing how innovations take time to develop and to market, we will be well into 2020 before it can make a dent in any competitors market share. Until that time people leave MS.
  • Microsoft already won the smartphones war, people just don't realise it yet. They are a software company and their software is on all platforms.
  • Yeh, sure. All pigs cleared for takeoff while Nadella is in charge.
  • I'm only buying MS stuff if there is absolutely no other alternative. I'm done burning money on soon to be discontinued products and services.
  • People don't even trust their brands anymore.
  • No, super fans who visit this site feel that way. In a recent survey of brands, Microsoft was trusted more than Apple. Many of you here are in a tech bubble, but that does not reflect what the real world thinks. Most people don't put as much thought/rage/emotion into tech products unlike the commenters here. IF what you say is true, we'll see it with declining Xbox and Surface sales. So far, the evidence suggests otherwise.
  • I trust MS. They have been pretty predictable all along, not one surprise. One might even consider their actions inevitable. I'm not surprised the survey you mention shows a high level of trust in such a predictable company. Oh, by the way, many customers who are very much without the MS tech 'bubble', such as my pensioner father, show a great deal of rage and emotion when dealing with MS devices. Just ask any digital carer. You'll have a tonne right here I'll wager.
  • In my conversations, most people don't even realize Microsoft has some products. I've heard "Windows is on phones?" wayyyyyy more than "Why do you have a Windows Phone?" Its not a matter of distrust than it is unknown. Techies distrust and dig in, common consumers go by visibility and reputation from peers.
  • Well said.
  • When my wife and I were using our 1020s,  we had so many people ask about them.   Curiously interested in what the device was,  how it worked,  and so on.   I LOVED my 1020.  While on 8,  when we got them first,  apps were slowly starting to push into the system.  It was growing,  slowly,  but growing.  But the people who were using android and apple were all seeing our phones (as we were the only ones in town using windows phone devices),  were truly interested in them.  After us showing them how it works etc,  they,  while still being under contract with their service providers were considering paying up front for 1020s.  Camera was a big part of that...but the acutal hardware,  feel, look,  how windows worked  had lots of people very interested.   However....soon after that,  MS pulled the plug on their phone system.  I know they were pulling the plug when 10 was introduced.   It was in between the lines.  I knew it was coming.  After their backpedaling regarding many w8p devices being able to be updated to 10,  We jumped ship.  Never know what will happen in the future,  but as it stands,  I don't think I can move back to MS for my phone.  As I mentioned in other posts,  I would have to see 2 years of steady growth,  and no "reboots", "retrenches"  and no cancelling of services and products before I would ever consider a device from them.  At least with windows 10 desktop,  it's ALWAYS going to be there and supported.  
  • MS is great at work. Real work is done on a laptop or desktop. Phones are for lubricating life.... Navigating, looking up info, banking, e-boarding passes, wasting time, etc. Folding-not-phone-mini-tablets that are like carrying two Note 8s in your shorts are not bought or used at all.
  • I agree.  Microsoft has gone to GREAT lengths over the years to avoid the kind of "stranding obsolescence" Apple has been VERY guilty of over the years.  Apple has even switched processors and operating systems on many occasions in the past leaving those who invested in software for older systems waving it in the wind, throwing it away and having to buy the exact same software all over again.  It could be argued Microsoft has crippled its products to a certain extent to ensure continuity.  Even introducing software backward compatability it Xbox has been high on their agenda,  Phones have been the glaring exception to this rule and I think Microsoft knows they've burned their own supporters too much to do it again.
  • Those are not Microsoft or Windows fans, they are just Apple haters who hate more Microsoft because it didn't gave them a cheap alternative to iPhone. I am a Microsoft fan and I have a Lumia 930, an iPhone 6s and a Galaxy S7. I will also buy a Galaxy Note 8. I don't blame Microsoft not releasing a flagship Windows phone because I wouldn't buy it, there are no apps for it. But I am waiting for Microsoft to release a full Windows pocketable device. I don't care if it will be a niche product, it will be my niche product with full Windows on it.
  • Windows Central, and it's enthusiast, aren't the perspective, and reality, of the AVERAGE consumer.
    ........
    Get real.
  • Usually enthusiasts are ahead of the curve though, right? If they find no value in a Microsoft product or service, what is the chance that normal people will adopt it?
  • They can be ahead of the curve, but there is a lot of tech that fails too and never catches on, paid for by early adopters.
  • Who are you talking to? I told you 50 times that I don't care about what you have to say, right, or wrong. I don't like you personally. I don't read your BS comments, not one word. I see your name, and I know exactly how to respond. You're wasting your breath... Don't respond to my comments. When are you going to understand that?
    ......
    Didn't ever think for one second that you ever could be making a point to me. No. Never.
  • WOW rodney,  You are such a crybaby.  you sound like 3 year old plugging their ears...."IM NOT LISTENING!!!!!"   waaaahhhh man up little baby!
  • Look at apple. Locked down system, removed ports, removed headphone jack, removed fingerprint scanner... Did anybody from normal consumers ever thought for a second they are being played and purposely robbed for no other reason than to spend even more money for accessories they didn't need at all? :-)
  • Normally devices today have a lifetime of 2 years for professional usage, 3 years of normal usage and 4 for simple kidn of usage. I have an Iphone 7 and they made too many change, it is running horrible, lack of performance and battery life. All old iphone is suffering with this update, I was really impressing with how long the iphones held out, maybe it was a plan, holding an old technology for soo long time and then force everybody to buy a new one. Or sometimes we are just luckily to be at right place at right time, but if you blame everytime you see a problem and dont calculate your investment and the cases, you will never keep on the same place. Technologies changes every time, and its ups and downs.
      The Lumia 950 has several items better than the iphone X, and no one gave value, even in the past.  
  • My iPhone 7 Plus runs with iOS 11.1.1 runs perfectly.
  • My iphone 6s'es all run perfectly on 11.1.1 as well.  All three of them.  
  • Mine too. And all Microsoft apps on it are great.
  • Finally had to give up my 950XL when it broke. Quite happy now with my OnePlus 5 with Microsoft's launcher. Love all my surfaces. Can't understand the critics. They're totally solid. Why no word of Surface Studio 2? That's what I'm waiting for.
  • Studio is exactly 1 year old; very early for a refresh. It only went to other countries 1Q this year.
  • This annual refresh is getting a bit silly. I woudn't have any issues with a bi-annual product release - plus it means people can enjoy their devices for longer.
  • Yea, but the problem with the Studio was that it was so tremendously sexy and yet the spec was so flaccid. A refresh on that one was in many peoples' imaginations on release day. I'd love to see a Surface Studio 2 sooner rather than later. An excellent companion device to the Surface not-Phone for anyone who can do without a tower, especially if it could handle Mixed Reality Ultra.
  • Agreed. A longer release cycle only works if the products are at or near the top, performance-wise, when they are first launched. When the studio launched, its internal specs were so-so for the time, at best, so a spec refresh would do it wonders.
  • @AndyCalling Yep, the only thing I wish they would have done differently with the Surface Studio would be to make the base unit replaceable. I care to buy that awesome screen and folding stand mechanism, but would not buy it when physically married to computer components that can't easily be replaced. That screen will be great for years, the computer components go obsolete quickly.
  • I totally agree with you. I could see a longer refresh if it wasn't the case of the Surface Studio having already dated specs at launch. I finally have the money saved now to buy one, but can't justify pulling the trigger on a new PC for over 3 grand with an old 980 video card. In my main gaming PC, I've upgraded my video cards twice since I've owned a 980GTX. That's just how dated the graphics specs of the Studio are. Instead, I've chosen to hold out until early next year to see what's available. If I hear something about a new Studio 2 then great I'll wait for it, but now I'm also considering the new 32" Cintiq coming out in January. I feel Microsoft is actually losing money the longer they take to release an updated Surface Studio. 
  • What would an updated Surface Studio bring them? They showed the concept and sales of such a device are never going to be strong. It is just too niche and expensive. Maybe they will have a slightly updated version next year with new internals but I don't see any reason for Microsoft to put any effort in a new one. It isn't ever going to be high volume for anyone, especially Microsoft. You don't see Dell or HP's version for sale in Best Buy for a reason.
  • A powerful updated Surface Studio would grab the attention of many studios and agencies. For a device that specifically targets designers, it's simply necessary the internals are up to par. I'm sure there were many designers, video editors, and animators out there that may have wanted the Studio for the beautiful screen, but had to pass on it due to the underwhelming specs. 
  • Doesn't this industry already have high end drawing and creation tools? I am not really familiar with it, but I doubt the Surface Studio is "Pro" enough for serious use. Just a quick Google search confirms. Wacom tablets have double the pressure sensitivity (2048 vs 1024) and also read the angle of the pen. Looking at the Wacom tablets, I really don't understand how the Surface Studio is unique at all. It looks like professionals have had this sort of device available for years.
  • Bleached,  The Industry has already started shifting from apple devices and wacom to surface products because you have everything in one device,  and you interact with one machine which is way better....plus the screen on the studio is better than wacom offerings.   Professional and adanced amatuer photographers, videographers etc are all moving towards the touchscreen interface of the surface devices since it offers faster,  more precise manipulation of images etc.  Even my little dell setup I use for my photography and video production with only passive stylus support runs circles around non touch apple products in ease and speed of editing.   MS is totally on the right track with the surface line for professional "creators"..
  • No.
  • No. What?
  • Studio is exactly 1 year old; very early for a refresh. It only went to other countries 1Q this year.
    The problem, Daniel, is that the Studio's hardware - Skylake CPU and Maxwell GPU - was already obsolete at the time it was released: both Kaby Lake and Pascal were already available then. Mobile Pascal GPUs, in particular, are so stupidly more powerful than their equivalent Maxwell ones that power Studio that it's absurd that a device that targets creatives like this one hasn't been updated with them yet.
  • Would like to see an updated Surface 3.. For plenty of folks, it would be a good choice. Of course, for many reading this, YMMV.
  • Can't you get a Core M Surface Pro? Doesn't that replace the Surface 3? Anything cheaper than that should be handled by Microsoft's partners.
  • Agreed. But there are people who want 10-11" form factor too. I hope Surface ARM would fill this space.
  • It's not about cheaper,  it's about smaller.  I don't want a 12" tablet...I want a surface pro in the surface 3 size.   I would be on that like white on rice!!!!!   A huge capacity, high powered 10" surface pro!!!!! btw...see anything like that on your rounds Daniel?
  • I have never believed in this idea that the PC is dead.  Sure I might own a number of tablets but there is no way I'm not going to own a PC.  In order for me to do real work and research I need a big enough screen to comfortably do work.  And no tablet will ever be able to do that.  I'm hopeful Microsoft will release some new and/or improved devices next year.  As much as I am dismayed by recent decisions Microsoft have made particularly on the phone and music side I still prefer them over Google and Apple. 
  • Me either wodaboss.  Anyone who says,  or said that obviously has their head up their ass.   PC's are going NO WHERE.  I think that was apple users stating that because in apple land,  most people just use ipads instead of macs because you get more on investment with the ipad.   Mac is BORING, terrible to use,  and WAY overpriced for the hardware you are getting.   So in lemmings eyes,  PC's are dying.  Therefore,  in most media outlets who think apple is GOD,  again,  state PC's sales are dying.   However..back on planet EARTH....I see LOTS more WIndows PC's floating around...and besides in Newfoundland (different thinking here because of job loss etc),  There are MANY MANY surface devices in the wild.   Whats funny is that last time I was in St. John's at the food court in the mall,  I saw my first windows phone in the wild besides when I had mine!  Was pretty funny to see actaully.   But windows pc is MILES AND MILES ahead of apple.
  • I love how all the little fanpanzies here get their panties in a bunch...waaaaahhhh crybabies.  Don't voting Microsoft praise....waaaaahhhhhh....MS fanboys are more idiotic than apple or android fanboys.  
  • Daniel, how do you think Cortana fits into their strategy? Will this continue to see innovation and investment? Thinking of picking up an invoke but worried nothing new will come to it and they will pull the free Skype calling as their is no stated term for that. Any thoughts on if smart speakers are something they will support or will it be the next Band?
  • It's not Microsoft product. It's Harman.
  • Dan, you refer to the yawning chasm that is the lack of a Surface phone by suggesting that there might be something in the works. Sorry mate, but my feeling is that Nadella showed his hand when he shut down Nokia and Belfiore boasted about his Android phone. These two blokes must go down as incompetant and your comment about mobile is just wishful, deluded, thinking. MS has let its customer base down too many times to be taken seriouslt. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me seems appropriate.
  • MSFT's phone strategy is simple.  Provide an app for Android and iOS that extends their ecosystem to these mobile operating systems  Outlook, Office, Cortana, OneNote etc.  will work on Android and iOS and allow you to move data from your PC.  MSFT is primarily a software company.
  • Is an operating system not software? Methinks that it is indeed software so maybe we should refer to MS as a simple little App Company in future because without a mobile OS it is reliant on others?
  • Really? I can't say I agree. I think this has been, on a personal level, the worst Surface year I've witnessed. I never liked the chances of Surface RT, but they at least went for that market somehow. 2017, it feels like "the year Microsoft tried to be Apple" with Surface. Why do I say that? The Surface Laptop still fights itself. The classic chassis design, a non-cnovertible laptop, fights with the presence of Windows Ink. I can't imagine the writing/drawing experience is very pleasant. The price tag looks like something you'd see on a MAcbook, and the specs are ho-hum at $800, let along $1,000. It comes off purely as a fanboy device. Oh, and what's powering that device? Windows 10 S, an operating system that wrestles control from the user. This runs contrary to what Windows folks are used to, and starts to follow the Apple mantra of "The customer is too stupid to do this himself." I don't like it, and while the free upgrade to full W10 is nice, it's also not a peromanent offer and not a nice approach for consumers who want freedom in their devices. The Surface Book 2 failed to bring much of a change. It's incredibly predictable in bringing the internals refresh after 2 years, but I am honestly still looking at the Surface Book and Surface Laptop and wondering when Microsoft will compete with the best 2-in-1 implementation of the 360-degree hinge. The Surface Book doesn't quite make sense at teh $1,500 price tag when the GPU isn't included, and at $2,500 to get that GPU, you're paying about a $1,000 premium for the Apple mantra of "thin and light." Lastly, we have the bread-and-butter Surface Pro. These are what we buy as the go-to device at my work. I've set up quite a few, updated even more, put on inventory tags, and routinely used them to improve my workability away from my desk (great for remoting into my desktop PC and working in another room). What did we get from the Surface Pro line? For starters, they went the confusing Apple route f droping the numerical moniker. Secondly, they basically said "we droped the number because the changes are so small," meaning they're just coasting on brand and not innovating. Thirdly, to pair with that "we barely improved it," they raised the price of most of the models, with the two cheapest being the excption. Instead of $1,000 for the i5/8GB.256GB, it's $1,100. That's some garbage. Lastly, to pair with "we barely changed anything" and "we raised the price for basically no advancements," they took the Surface Pen away! Oh, and it's $100, as opposed to the previous $50 price tag, to match the Apple Pencil we used to call a rip-off. So, they barely made improvements to it, and if you want a good model, you're paying an extra $200 (maybe more at higher models) to get the sull Surface experience. The way they've iterated on the Surface Pro has turned me off to the products as personal devices. I won't recommend them now becaue I find it unacceptable to openly tell your fan base you raised the price and took away your biggest feature while doing the bare-minimum to sell a new product. It reeks of Apple. As always, I don't doubt I'll get plenty of downvotes without meaningful rebuttal because speaking ill of Microsoft is the highest of sins here. However, people never care to get that I'm critical because I want things to be good, not because I like the failures. Surface has spent this year raising prices and trying to market itself via brand over quality, to me. Everything Surface feels like it's marked up $200 beyond the competition. Maybe it's Microsoft's contiuned fear of comepting "too well" with its third-party OEMs, but it makes little sense that they'd take 5 years to do that. Just not a fan of these moves. I'd like to see them either get back to innovating with hardware or stop pricing themselves into hardware tiers that are much better than what Microsoft delivers for the money. The Surface moves of 2017 seem like the very things we'd mock Apple for, but we're praising Microsoft for it?
  • I am no longer confident in anything Microsoft says. Again. I've been around in IT from the MSDOS beginning, and recall all to well how trust-able they were back in the day. As in, they were not. At all. Broken promises, their old FUD policy ...it wasn't exactly a well-kept secret lol. (The tech press used "fud" all the time to describe their actions and announcements ...and deservedly so. And that mistrust was something they earned.) I thought this had changed - I hoped it  had finally changed - along with an added and actual commitment to their customers - when I bought into the brilliance that Windows Mobile brought to the smartphone market, and saw what they were trying to do - a paradigm shift in personal computing. It felt like the future. All the disparate parts becoming part of a contiguous whole. I gave trust a try. Yeah. Right. Same old Microsoft. ...I just ordered a ZX1 Compact, and will retire my Lumia 950 in the drawer next to my beloved 1020, when the little Sony arrives next week. And along with those, my brief "trust" that Microsoft had actually, you know, changed to a company honoring their word, and any commitment at all to their customers. Or just their word?  Frankly, I don't know how they get that trust back.
  • But... Daniel is saying this....
    Not MS.
  • I am a similar vintage and while essentially agreeing with you, would suggest that MS is rotting from the head down. At least Bullmer appeared to recognise the importance of having a presence in the mobile market that he controlled. Nadella has surrendered the future direction of his company to Android and iOS because, right now, he does not control the environment. He is a mental pygmy.
  • Microsoft does, Indeed need a new CEO.  Keep Nadella in his wheelhouse of running cloud,  even growing cloud like he is.  They do Need someone with PASSION.   He has NONE....you listen to him speak,  he's just a drone.   What is needed,  is someone who has vision for awesome products both in consumer and in corporate settings.  They are teetring on the edge of AWESOME.  Just need that new fresh thinker to push the hardware in the right direction...OH...and hire back all testing staff, marketing staff etc that the nutty one fired!  
  • I suspect Daniel Rubino knows some secrets, but is not allowed to tell. He always plays so surprised and humble, but we all know he's hiding something, even from Zacc and other WC staff.
  • Likely he either has built trust with his contacts at Microsoft or there are NDAs in place that allow him to preview as a reputable reporting site in exchange for feedback and the ability to immediately cover as their own source. If you notice, this site doesn't have many (if any that I recall) "as reported by..." articles which means they were given access on good faith. You have to respect that the coverage provided is a mixture of what they know and what they are able to share.
  • Don't read too much into it, but Zac and I have talked about this in the last few podcasts. There is a special project - Andromeda (hardware and software) this is going on, referred to sometimes in code as "target platform=Windows8828080" as the device. You can see some of it here. 8828080 is Microsoft's phone number. Take that as you will. But no, I'm not under any NDAs, but yes, hearing a lot more chatter about Andromeda; have seen some internal bits referring to a foldable/split screen device.
  • Yawn
  • Pointless for you to be here. To say yawn.... 13?
  • At least he's 10 years older than you act....crybaby!
  • Don't play innocent Daniel. We all know you're hiding secrets. Just share everything and we will all be grateful and like you more
  • Reomw,  He probably can't because he will loose his access to where he can go at MS.   Common sense...he see's stuff,  He is told not to say to much about it since it's a concept and no where near a finished product.  
  • Yes, I know the situation, but I believe we can make him tell (mostly by begging)
  • HA HA...Not happening!
  • One thing.... Now that the hardware team can take their time, and release fully baked products, that's fine. Great.
    What seems wrong is the fact that MS can't (yet) release their (great) products consistently like Apple, Samsung, and even Google (now) does.
    ........
    How long does MS get to use the "new to the hardware game" card, hasn't it been long enough, should we keep accepting this a normal, and shouldn't we be holding MS to a higher standard than this??????
    .......
    What this "Excuse" does (once again) is make MS seem (once again) like the huge technology company that is (once again) slower, not with the game, and all around more incompetent than the others.. SMDH.
    Long story short, it's time for MS to start being able to do what the others can do, when they can do it, and be good at it... And, it's time for MS's supporters to stop accepting that MS "can't" do what the others can do, and stop making justifications when MS is less.
    Talk about being relative to the times, and average consumers.. MS can't be relative, or even taken seriously, when they can't release products as regularly as pretty much everyone else in the industry big, and small😐
    Just saying....... MS makes terrific products (and WP was terrific) but they need to pick up the got dammm pace. $hit.
  • I moved my company's information system to cloud-based system.  With more frequecy, I work with customer on in the wild.  They have specific questions and I use my phone to find the neccessary infromation which they can see on my phone (and thries if the use the online portal available to them.  But a smartphone screen is kind of small to do any productive work.  So a foldable smart phone would allow me to be more productive why I am out in the wild.   For instance today, I am renovating an apartment and a tenant has a question about her account balance.  I simply pulled out my phone and reviewed her account.  It is not practical to go to my van pull out my laptop.  oops, no connection.  If you doubled the 950 screen and made it foldable then the screen would be just big enough to make corrections to tenants accounts.
  • Ddn, how thick will this foldable be and will it still fit in my pants' pocket? One of the kpi's for a phone is thinness.
  • Long,  I am thinking it will be as thick as the 1020 at the camera.  which is fine.   put two iphone 6's together and you have the foldable device...thats still super thin!
  • I continue to have the feeling that PC monitors are one of the reasons why people moved away from PCs. When you look at the monitors on the market, you have either crappy monitors or expensive monitors built primarily for gamers. And the average consumer has become accustomed to the great screens on their phones and laptops and when they look at PC monitors, it's like looking at a window to 2010. That's also why I think Microsoft should release the Surface Studio display as a stand-alone device. If you isolate it and let people connect their devices to it, you'd get: - People with access to a much better monitor than the average monitor; - A push forward for Windows Ink - A push forward for touch, which would not only benefit a push for UWP but also to shorten the gap between the way people are more and more used to interacting with devices. - And a push for their OEM partners to start re-thinking their monitors and tinkering with new displays (I mean...the only LCD left in my house is the darn monitors. And I'be become so spoiled with the pure blacks on everything else that I continue to be borderline disgusted by its absence on them.   Microsoft has been focusing on mobility. But I think they should also not forget the Home. And the first thing ready for an overhaul is PC monitors.
  • DJCBS....you sorta hit a point...but I am using a new Dell infiinity edge 24" touchscreen monitor....IT'S AWESOME.  It is WAY ahead of the HP 2311 that it replaces....plus touchscreen is just the bee's knees.  I have a mini surface studio type setup here now...minus the active stylus...I do have a cool thin tip stylus that works and I can create and manipulate images and videos quite comfortably with it...No pressue sensitivity reduces the graphic usage...but for photos and videos it's DEADLY cool!
  • DJCBS, I completely agree with your statement. I believe part of the reason desktops has dropped is also because of the standard monitors that everyone makes. The technology is still the same, we've had flat screen monitors for so many years now, they've only gotten bigger and faster refresh rates. Microsoft could easily dominate the home pc market by creating a standalone Surface Studio type monitor. I'd like to see two versions: Surface Studio 2, and the Studio Monitor. 
  • The Andromeda device will NOT be a phone. A phone is last centuries device. Sorry people, but this century we are not using the 'phone', yes, sometimes we need to make or take a call but on the whole we are using data. Calls are a thing of the past, and thank God we are going this way, so...Andromeda device will be a mobile mini Surface that is very portable, and yet HIGHLY flexible in the way it does things and the form factor. I think MS has learnt from designing the Surface products, and can now honestly build such a device. I do think they should perfect and test it thoroughly first. As for the botched up WM and Groove etc. etc. I am still pissed at the terrible handling of customers and respecting people and they could have easily put in at least one more iteration of the 950 line to improve it and ADVERTISE, ADVERTISE, ADVERTISE. The 950 and 950xl were good phones, but they could have gotten much better to the point of perfect just by a second iteration and a little care. The same for Groove, or at least sell it to a company or group that cares. Very sad. However, in saying all that, I love my Surface products, my Windows phones, and Xbox etc. even though yesterday I had a look at the iPhone X. Jesus Christ that thing has amazing build quality! Too bad it's Apple OS. One of the sales guys, was super enthused and very knowledgeable, but when I mentioned and showed my X3 he loved it and then went on to say how a few years ago he was ready to jump ship completely from Apple because they were going nowhere, and he, 'just loves the Windows OS' and feels very sad that they didn't stand behind their product.
  • The average consumer likes objects they are familiar with. The original iPhone was never a phone. It was a portable computing device that could also make calls and crucually, it was shaped like a phone. Same for Surface Pen, Apple Pencil - these are devices that play on people's familiarity. Marketing something that makes calls other than a 'phone' will mean people won't buy it. Skype can make phone calls but the average consumer isn't going to buy a laptop (which, ironically is cheaper than the latest iPhone / Pixel) to make calls. They buy the phone, but realise it can do a whole lot more. As Steve jobs said, an iPod, a phone and a breakthrough Internet communications device (referring to what the original iPhone was). So if Microsoft want to do something, it has to be a phone, a tablet and a computer - all in one (surface was a tablet and a computer all-in-one). I wouldn't mind something with the form factor of an iPad mini that can fold down to the size of a 950XL (say) and can be plugged into a monitor to act as a computer (Continuum 2.0 or even full fledged Windows 10 S). Currentyl, the biggest obstacles to Microsoft in the phone market are the resellers. To get any form of signal - they need the good will of the Verizons, the AT&T's etc. Without them, in any LTE capacity, they will be sunk - and we know that Microsoft operate in the US first and judge the success of a product by how it performs in the US market - before moving it out globally. Let's see what they come up with and whether the cash paying population are ready for what Microsoft have to offer.
  • Unfortunately, you're still thinking in terms of competition with sales as large as the smartphone sector, and competition with iDroid..
    .......
    Some of you still cannot break free of this decades way of thinking. You still don't get it.. MS is not interested in making a smartphone, or a phone, and marketing any new PC form factor as such.. MS might be adding call capabilities to a new type of PC form factor, and that's it. MS wouldn't be reliant upon this device to be primarily used, or sold, as a consumer communications device, rather more so, for it's productivity benefits.
    So, when you say "people won't buy this" you're saying "people will not buy this type of PC"... How do you know that people will not buy this particular PC? How many different PC form factors are already on the market, and selling? Have you seen this new PC form factor enough to pass judgement on it's marketability? When have you ever been skeptical of a new PC form factor, and why all of a sudden now?... New PC form factors of recent have definitely caught on in the past few years, why not this one?
    ......
    Get the smartphone out of your head.. MS never intended for the Surface brand, dell, HP, Lenovo or any other PC to replace your smartphone, and I'm not exactly sure why you think they would now. Sad thing is that this simple concept has been explained to some of you a thousand times, and you still don't get it.
  • It will be a phone, tablet and/or PC. Microsoft doesn't have the software or experiences for a small touch screen device. Any such device will be DOA no matter what they call it.
  • What? Who are you talking to?
  • wwwaaaaahhhhhh...snif snif...waaaahhhhhh!
  • I have a Surface Pro 3. I love it for the most part, but there are two related aspects of being an owner that have soured the experience for me:
    1. The warranty is only a year. For such an expensive product, the warranty should be at least 3 years.
    2. Customer support fails to support. Hundreds, maybe thousands of users had battery problems with the Surface Pro Some of them ended up with an unusable brick. Microsoft told them "sorry, your warranty is no longer active" and offered to sell them a refurbished unit with only a 90 day warranty and no assurance the battery issue(s) wouldn't recur. I'm really on the fence about purchasing another Surface, or ANY Microsoft hardware.
  • i think im done too... i had enough of all that beta software w10.... desktop and mobile
  • That this new device will be pocketable is the question. What I would prefer is a productive but pocketable device. Something like a 950 but with inking? I don't agree that calls are a thing of the past. They are absolutely necessary if you're in sales or even admin roles like PA and EA work. If it's pocketable I'll buy it in a heartbeat. Besides that, it's great to hear Dan is positive about any device in the mobile space.
  • I'm here for that beautiful sand dune wallpaper (side-by-side of 13" and 15" SB2). Where can I get it? :D Staying on the topic though, I think this is the year of Surface too. MS basically catered everyones request. We ask for more powerful Surface - we get the SB2. We ask for standard laptop - we get Surface Laptop. An improved Surface - New Surface. 
  • Since Microsoft failed windows mobile, and with rumours what from 2019 the surface line will no longer be updated...i dont think Microsoft will come with a phone that is NOT android. I hate the fact that my surface book 2 drain battery while is charging !!
  • It's great to hear SB2 is basically bug free. I love my SB, but since I fell in love with inking I want the SB2 as it has much better latency :-) I only hope MS fixes inking ASAP.
    I don't know how you feel about it after fall update. But I am very disappointed with text selection now. When I want to copy text I have to use barrel button - which is fine for me to be honest. The problem is that I can copy text only with keyboard shortcut... Because if I select text and then press barrel button again to pull out menu for copy / paste etc... It deselects the text... And it has weird behaviour across W10. Another thing I want MS to fix is PEN to behave as mouse pointer that would make my life so much easier... If surface team is getting more time to deliver better product so should the other teams. I had several bad experiences across MS app updates. I don't care about new features if there are bugs to be addressed. New features are great, but those can wait... :-)
  • I read a line in the article talking about the Pro 4 looking like the 2017?   Hell,  every macbook pro from 2010 until present look exactly the same.  to the lay person,  you can scam them pretty easy with macbooks!
  • I don't think anyone outside of the bunker has a clue about what the next Surface device looks likes. Sorry but the pundits have been blindsided almost everytime by Surface releases of NEW ideas. I find that comforting, because that means they are doing their job and not simply letting out "leaks" to hype uninspired design changes (see last three generations of iPhone). In addition, QC has been superb with Surface. Yes the original SB had some driver issues, but MS cracked down and fixed the problem, not just washing over it (see iPhoneX and Pixel2 screen issues). I know my next laptop will be a Surface Book (ergonomics and functionality fit my work use better than other convertibles) and I await the next member of the family.
  • In Panos we trust. He never was directly involved with mobile. Let's see what his team can do to refresh the mobile segment. Not just another smartphone, been there and done that, they will never win that fight. The new Surface will be like when original Surface came out. People were saying why would anyone want that. Took a few iterations, but they stuck with it and got it right. First two iphones were crap too, but they got it right eventually.