Microsoft pushes Surface Earbuds release back to spring 2020

Surface Earbuds
Surface Earbuds (Image credit: Daniel Rubino/Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft's Surface Earbuds won't ship now until spring 2020.
  • Two color options will be available.
  • Surface Earbuds are expected to now launch in more markets.

Microsoft's October hardware event brought many new devices to market, but it was Surface Earbuds that had an IOU for release. While the original plan was to have at least the white version of the $250 headphones shipping by holiday season with the gray model coming later, those dates have now shifted.

In a tweet from Surface hardware chief Panos Panay, the release for Surface Earbuds have moved to spring 2020 due to some software tweaks and presumably some manufacturing delays. No specific date in spring has been announced with details coming later.

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If there is any good news about this delay is that both the white and gray versions should be available at the same time versus a staggered release. Likewise, Microsoft says that because of the delay, Surface Earbuds can launch simultaneously in more markets than initially planned.

Still, with Microsoft missing the crucial "holiday season," especially in North American and European markets, it's hard not to see this as a missed opportunity. Apple has been able to get its new AirPods Pro to stores in just days after its announcement. On the other hand, Google's new $180 Pixel Buds 2 – announced in October – also won't be coming to market until spring 2020 either.

Microsoft's Surface Earbuds are built from the ground up to deliver excellent sound quality through Omnisonic speakers, unique haptic swipe gestures, dual mic array, and a Type-C charging case that delivers up to 24 hours of playback. In a surprising move, the Surface Earbuds also integrate with Office 365 with gestures, dictation, and translation features.

During our brief sampling period at Microsoft's October event, the Surface Earbuds were very comfortable to wear, and the sound quality was quite impressive. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait a bit longer to try them out in the real world.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • Looking forward to these. More time to save up...
  • I’d love to know all the crazy chaos behind the scenes at a $trillion company like Microsoft.
  • Typical, like it will be spring worldwide. Somebody tell him Christmas will be at the beach this year per as usual. Snow is for eskimos
  • They need to be smaller. They look ridiculously big in the promos.
  • Like a pop socket in your ear...
  • A little unfortunate as I was really wanting to pick these up for Christmas. Hopefully they get it all figured out and can get the software fully baked.
  • Why necessarily for Christmas? I mean, it sounds like you're planning on buying them for yourself, and surely you don't give yourself presents...?
  • I always buy myself something nice for Christmas. I would never ask someone to spend $250 on a gift. So if there's something I want, I buy it. You should try rewarding yourself sometime. It's fun.
  • Just take my money already! I went to my area Microsoft Store last week hoping that they'd at least have a display pair, and hoped someone might be able to give me a date, but my hopes were all dashed.
  • Not sure what to think about these, kinda better than the Apple ear sticks, but... And I'm not sure if they are all that bigger than others, but the round design does at least not make them look smaller to be sure. If they shaved 5mm off the width it would have reduced the foot print way more, and looked better. Hope they chose this size due to technical challenges shrinking more, not because of the touch support etc.
  • I think the Airpod Pro with ANC changed the game, especially at the same $249 price point.
  • Really depends on what you want. AirPods Pro are good for ANC, but they do have a bit that goes in the canal and reviews suggest they're not ideal for all-day usage (comfort). Surface Earbuds are made to be worn for 8 hours, let you hear people talking to you in the office, and have intuitive swipe gestures (plus you can pair them with multiple devices). For me, it's that latter usage I'm interested in as I don't commute/need ANC. I also hate headphones in my ear canal.
  • You mean like Sony has had for a while.
  • They need more time to remove Cortana. :D
  • I need to see what these look like on someone my size (6'5"), right now they don't look to offer much more than my Jabra 65t (except USB-C charging, battery life has not been an issue).
  • They would look laughable in your ears & the same if you were 4'6''.
  • I would love to like these. But being too chunky, too pricey, no wireless charging and no noise cancellation it will be hard to compete with airpods.
  • Apple's AirPods Pro release means it back to the drawing board for these hideous monstrosities. Surface Earbuds didn't even have ANC which makes it dead-on-arrival anyway.
  • Agreed Steve. And aesthetics are incredibly important. I love MSFT but these things are ugly af IMO.
  • These opinions have lost all value since everyone made fun of AirPods and now they're super popular. Like, opinions on aesthetics literally have zero value anymore in this world. Look at fashion. I'd also point out that one major downside to AirPods is they can't multi-pair to your PC and phone like these can. That's quite literally the market Microsoft wants vs Apple. Now, that doesn't matter to many people, but it actually matters to myself and others with multiple devices. Of course, if you're all in on iPad, iPhone, and a MBP that's cool, go for AirPods. But then I have to wonder just WTH here are doing here on this site lol.
  • Dude it was an innocent comment, that last bit of yours wasn't necessary 😔
  • "Surface Earbuds didn't even have ANC"
    On purpose. These are meant for the office so when your co-workers come up to you you can hear them. That's not something everyone wants, but it's something I prefer. Same reason I use Bose FreeSports at the gym or when biking so I can hear ambient noise/be safer. To get true ANC is earbuds they have to enter the ear canal to form at least a bit of a seal (again, this is obvious). Try wearing those for 8 hours and see how your ears feel. There are downsides to that design and, please admit this, not everyone likes that feeling/design or even ANC isolation (even if optional). Surface Earbuds don't do that and because of that they are supposed to be wearable all day. That may not matter to you, but Microsoft thinks it matters to others (again, it's about choice). I like ANC for airplanes, but even then AirPods Pro fail as most reviews have pointed out they're not loud enough/ANC-enough to work as well as over-the-ear designs for what I think are obvious reasons. Anyway, there's no way in hell I'm ever buying AirPods Pro. I don't use a Mac or an iPad, but I do want to multi-pair my headphones to my PC and phone, which AirPods Pro cannot do. I also despise they way they look. Choice is good.
  • I think a redesign might be in order. Perhaps an oval that is slightly convex and two tone on the flat surface to break up the large surface area.
  • A redesign is not happening AFAIK. This is about software and manufacturing.
  • I just watched a bunch of videos on them and they are growing on me. But the large surface area is not eye pleasing. If they could come out with some decals/stickers to put on them without interfering with the touch sensitivity that would be cool. Then you could make them your own with different emotes or gamer-tag pics, wood grain... or what not.