Microsoft will unveil a new era of Windows and Surface today — Here are the announcements to expect

Microsoft Event
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft is hosting a special event in Seattle on May 20, and as always, the company is remaining tight-lipped about what exactly we're going to see. Luckily, we already have a pretty good idea about what the company intends to talk about, and it's likely to involve Windows, Surface, and yet-to-be-announced AI experiences that will join them together. 

According to my sources, this event is a big one. Microsoft will take the time to outline its vision for a new era of Windows with AI and Copilot at the center, starting with Surface Pro and Surface Laptop, both powered by Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon X chips. The company will talk about how these chips enable incredible next-gen AI experiences, including new features such as Recall, advanced Studio Effects, translations with live captions, and much more.

Unfortunately, this event will not be livestreamed, meaning you will have to follow our live blog at 10am PT (1pm ET) to see the news as it happens. Alternatively, keep reading for a preview of the announcements I'm expecting to see.

Windows 11

AI experiences in Windows 11 will be the main focus. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Microsoft is expected to set the stage for a new era of Windows that's powered by next-gen AI experiences, much of which will ship as part of the next major Windows 11 update arriving later this year as the Windows 11 2024 Update. This release will ship first on new Qualcomm Snapdragon X-based PCs launching in June and will roll out to everyone else in the fall.

Many of these next-gen experiences are likely to require a neural processing unit (NPU) with around 45 TOPS of power. Qualcomm's upcoming SoC is capable of running this, and next-gen chips from Intel and AMD coming in 2025 are also expected to run these next-gen AI experiences. 

AI Explorer (Recall and snapshots)

AI Explorer is expected to be the blockbuster AI feature coming to Windows 11. (Image credit: Windows Central)

The likely star of the show will be AI Explorer, an internal umbrella term for a number of the next-gen AI experiences coming to Windows, the most notable of which is "Recall."  Recall will rely on NPU hardware to enable Windows to run AI in the background and remember everything you do, allowing users to use natural language to find anything they've seen on screen over time.

According to my sources, the feature includes a timeline interface that will let you scroll back through all the different things you've done on your PC that the AI has captured, and let you Recall any moment just by typing in a search criteria. 

For example, if you were chatting with a friend called Sarah on WhatsApp who casually mentioned a list of movies they wanted to see, typing "show me that list of movies Sarah said she wanted to see" would bring up that exact moment in time when that conversation was happening.

AI Explorer can also analyze what's currently on-screen and provide contextual suggestions based on what it can see. An example of this is looking at two apps or webpages side by side, and asking AI Explorer to compare the two things. Or you could be looking at an image sent to you in an email, and AI Explorer can suggest removing the background of that image using Photos with a single-click.

You can learn more about these upcoming AI Explorer features in my in-depth write-up.

Advanced Windows Studio Effects

Studio Effects will enhance webcam feeds with artistic styles and lighting.   (Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft is also planning to unveil a number of enhanced Windows Studio Effects, specifically with new video effects which will apply filters in real-time to improve lighting or allow you to present yourself in a handful of different artistic styles. These are expected to be built-in to Windows, and can be applied in any app that uses the built-in webcam and Studio Effects feed. 

Live Captions

Live captions are expected to get an AI upgrade that can translate different languages in real time. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Live Captions may also get a mention too. I hear Microsoft has been working on a new AI-powered feature that will enable the ability to translate different languages in real time based on whatever audio is being played on the system. Microsoft will tout this as an example of how AI is improving accessibility software. 

Local Generative AI

Copilot should gain some local AI capabilities. (Image credit: Windows Central)

I also expect Microsoft to talk a bit about how it's enabling on-device Generative AI experiences. Up until now, many of the AI experiences on Windows 11 are cloud-based, which allows PCs without NPUs to utilize LLM technology. Starting later this year, Copilot will gain some local generative AI capabilities, including image and text generation which can be handled on-device, reducing their reliance on the cloud on PCs with dedicated NPUs.


The Surface Pro and Surface Laptop will be top billing at this event.  (Image credit: Microsoft)

The other half of this event is expected to be all about Surface and Windows on Arm. Specifically, I am expecting Microsoft to unveil consumer variants of the Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6, both powered by Qualcomm's new Snapdragon X Series SoCs. 

Qualcomm's new chip beats Intel's latest Core Ultra chips in both performance and efficiency benchmarks, and even trades blows with the latest MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. It's the first Windows on Arm chip that truly competes, and hardware makers are finally confident enough to position Windows on Arm devices as part of their mainstream line ups.

That's what we're going to see with the Surface Pro and Surface Laptop at this event. As far as I'm aware, Microsoft only intends to offer these consumer variants with Arm chips, a first for the Surface line. I also expect other OEMs such as Dell, HP, and Lenovo to announce their own Qualcomm-powered laptops around the same time.

In fact, I anticipate Microsoft will declare this leap in hardware and software as a new era for the Windows PC, one where the hardware is capable of truly next-gen AI experiences and exists above the AI PCs we already have on the market.

The first Snapdragon X Series powered laptops are expected to start shipping in June, and Microsoft's Surface Pro and Surface Laptop offerings will likely be some of the first available. 

Surface Laptop

Expect the Surface Laptop to ship with a refreshed design. (Image credit: Windows Central)

It's the Surface Laptop line that's in the most need of a design refresh, and it sounds like that's what we might be getting with the Arm-powered Surface Laptop 6. According to my sources, the new Surface Laptop with Arm will be available in both 13.8- and 15-inch display sizes, both consisting of thinner bezels with rounded display corners.

Additionally, the device is also said to ship with an updated keyboard deck with a larger haptic trackpad, which is said to be similar to the trackpad found on the Surface Laptop Studio 2. I also hear the device will have a revised selection of ports, including one USB-A, two USB-C, and Surface Connect.

The Surface Laptop with Arm is expected to start with a base configuration of 16GB RAM and 256GB storage, a first for the Surface line, which has previously often started at 8GB RAM. It will be configurable with up to 32GB RAM and 1TB storage.

Surface Pro

The Arm-powered Surface Pro 10 may ship with an OLED display option.  (Image credit: Microsoft)

As far as I'm aware, the Arm-powered Surface Pro is less of a major update. I expect it to ship with a similar design to the Surface Pro 10 for business, including the rounded display corners that debuted with that model. The device will be available in more colors, as will the Surface Pro Type Cover, which has been updated with a dedicated Copilot key.

I'm told Microsoft is planning to offer the Arm-powered Surface Pro in an OLED display configuration for the first time, matching that of the new iPad Pro. There will also be an LCD option for those who want or prefer that display technology.  The device will have an anti-reflective coating, similar to the Surface Pro 10 for business. 

Just like the Surface Laptop with Arm, the Surface Pro with Arm will be the first to start with a base configuration of 16GB RAM and 256GB SSD storage. This means there will be no 8GB RAM for the first time on a modern Surface Pro. 

Surface Go 4

Surface Go 4 may finally go on sale for consumers. (Image credit: Future)

While I don't expect this to get a mention during the event, I have heard that Surface Go 4 will be made available to buy for consumers this summer. Up until now, the Surface Go 4 has been exclusively available for commercial customers, but that means you've not been able to find the Surface Go 4 in retail stores like Best Buy or Amazon.

I understand that the Surface Go 4 for consumers will be identical to the Surface Go 4 for commercial customers, meaning it will be powered by the same Intel N200 processor and not an Arm chip.


It's always a possibility that Microsoft may have one or two surprises up its sleeve. I know we're not going to hear about any other Surface products at the event. That means no Surface Laptop Studio, no Surface Studio, and definitely no Surface Duo or headphones. The focus is on Surface Pro and Surface Laptop, and Qualcomm's newest SoC.

So, that's everything I'm expecting to see (and not see) during Microsoft's event on May 20. I will be on the ground covering the event as it happens, so keep it locked to Windows Central for all the news. 

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter and Threads

  • taynjack
    It seems the Surface Studio would greatly benefit with the ARM chip. Another miss if that just keeps withering.
  • ShinyProton
    Another typical Microsoft idiotic decision - not to livestream your most important consumer hardware unveiling of the year.

    Their marketing playbook is so bad they deserve a medal.
  • Cmndr_Bytes
    ShinyProton said:
    Another typical Microsoft idiotic decision - not to livestream your most important consumer hardware unveiling of the year.

    Their marketing playbook is so bad they deserve a medal.
    It does seem quite odd....
  • Cody Patterson
    This is their biggest announcement in years and they aren’t streaming it? Guess that’s what happens when they lose Panos.