Microsoft is dropping the numbering system from the names of the Surface Pro lineup. Instead of an anticipated Surface Pro 5 the company is going for just "Surface Pro" this time around.
We spoke with Microsoft about the shift in nomenclature and why it matters.
Surface Pro reaches maturity
In 2012, Microsoft announced the Surface RT and Surface Pro – its first foray into making its own computers. The company took a lot of heat from partners and the media for the new direction and the actual hardware. Part of that was due to criticism with Windows 8 not resonating with customers, as well as the (in hindsight) disastrous Surface RT.
Through Surface Pro 2, the company continued to face a backlash. Media outlets frequently called for Microsoft to abandon the project altogether. Apple's CEO Tim Cook infamously said: "You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but you know those things are not going to probably be pleasing to the user."
Then something happened in 2014: Surface Pro 3. For the first time, the vision of Surface Pro became apparent. Sure, there were still some minor issues with the keyboard and battery life, but it was evident that Microsoft finally figured out the overall formula. It started registering with consumers, too, with Microsoft poised to hit a billion dollars in revenue for the first time.
The Surface Pro went from niche to mainstream.
In 2015, Microsoft announced the Surface Pro 4 – an iterative update to the Pro 3. While early Intel "Skylake" processor bugs nearly sank the launch, by January 2016 the company was back on track. The Surface Pro 4 went on to be a massive hit with more markets and higher public visibility, thanks to deals with the NFL (which initially backfired in a few ways).
All of this brings us to the fifth generation of Surface Pro. There are over a half dozen major improvements including optional 4G LTE, but the general look and spirit of Surface Pro remain. And, why shouldn't they? The Surface Pro design is spot-on for a 2 in 1. Microsoft can make it thinner, more power efficient, and keep making the Surface Pen better. But the Surface Pro is here to stay.
No, this is not the end
None of this is to say Microsoft is done with the Surface Pro line. Far from it. From here on out, Microsoft is likely to refer to "Surface Pro 6" as "the all-new Surface Pro" again whenever it sees fit for a refresh.
Vice President of Devices at Microsoft Panos Panay has stated that the company doesn't just put in a new processor for product upgrades, but it ensures that a new iteration brings significant advancements like longer battery life and an improved display.
Regarding design limits and form factors, Microsoft clearly has no issue with creating whole new Surface product lines. The Surface Laptop even demonstrates the company's willingness to improve existing form factors. Therefore, any boundary-pushing changes or extreme revamps won't be necessary for Surface Pro and what it is meant to represent. Microsoft can save that for other product lines if it feels that is necessary.
Surface Pro is now a "classic"
All of this brings us to the fifth generation of Surface Pro. Microsoft finally achieved many of the project's original goals with this latest iteration. For instance:
- Battery life is now at 13.5 hours.
- Optional 4G LTE option for universal data connectivity.
- Fanless Core i5.
- Windows 10 Creators Update advancements and feature set.
- Refined Surface Pen and Type Cover.
- New co-processor for touch and inking.
- Improved thermals and "whisper quiet" fan with reduced radial vent.
Previous criticism around Surface Pro was mostly about its less-than-stellar battery life and a loud hissing fan under CPU load. All of that should be a thing of the past with Surface Pro for 2017.
Although Microsoft could have added an LTE modem to the Surface Pro 4, only with today's engineering technology could the Surface team make it the way it wanted. The new Surface Pro has no antenna lines or "windows" for the radio. The LTE version is also not thicker, and the engineers did not have to make the display bezels larger to accommodate the components. Power usage and standby is also reportedly negligible. As Panay told me in our conversation, now is the time for the company to bring a Surface Pro with no compromises.
When you combine advances with the new Surface Pen and the new co-processor, inking on the Surface Pro is about as perfect as you can get.
A convincing argument can be made that this iteration of Surface Pro represents the culmination of five years of work on the product line. That is how Microsoft sees it and why it is calling this just the Surface Pro. While Surface Pro 3 will go down as the game-changer, the all-new Surface Pro may very well become a classic in PC history.
Related Surface Pro stories
- Everything you need to know about the new Surface Pro
- Why Microsoft's new Surface Pro doesn't have a USB Type-C port
- Surface Pro pricing and availability
- Surface Pro full tech specs
- All the details on the brand new Surface Pen
- Windows Central Surface Pro hub
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.
Update 6: Microsoft wants all of TikTok, but Trump's order may interfere
The Financial Times reports that as part of negotiations, Microsoft is now inquiring whether it can buy all of TikTok, instead of just the business in the US., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. This new plan would include India and Europe (and excluding China).
Apple responds to Project xCloud iOS block, Microsoft kicks back
With Microsoft's Project xCloud streaming platform locked out from iOS devices, Apple doubles down on App Store restrictions.
Review: You should buy this gaming chair for League of Legends Solo Q
Call yourself a fan of League of Legends? If you're looking for a new chair for the gaming den, you should check out the official League of Legends chairs from Secretlab. We're reviewing one of them right here.
Spruce up your Surface Pro with these awesome accessories
Whether you are using your Surface as your main computer or as a secondary device, you are going to want to make sure it's decked out with all the best gear. We've rounded up a bunch of worthwhile accessories right here.