Microsoft aims for ‘next era of PC’ with new Surface devices

12 Oct 2022

The new Surface devices and accessories. Image: Microsoft

The company is rolling out upgraded Surface Laptop, Pro and Studio devices, along with new accessories, Apple integrations and AI image tools.

Microsoft is looking to head into the “next era of the Windows PC”.

That was the key message of the company’s event today (12 October), where it unveiled a host of upgraded Surface products.

The big reveal was the Surface Laptop 5. In a blogpost following the event, Microsoft chief product officer Panos Panay described it as “sleek and elegant” computer with all-day battery life that is “50pc more powerful than its predecessor”.

It comes in 13.5-inch and 15.5-inch options, with Dolby Vision IQ and Dolby Atmos 3D spatial processing to boost colour and sound. Likely tapping into the rise of remote work, it also has a front-facing HD camera and studio microphones.

A person's hand is touching the screen of the new Surface 5 laptop.

Surface Laptop 5. Image: Microsoft

But Microsoft isn’t forgetting about the flexible aspect of its Surface line, which was launched a decade ago to bridge the gap between tablet and laptop.

It is launching the Surface Pro 9, with a 13.9-inch display designed to be “a canvas, a journal, a notepad, an editing bay and a cinema screen”.

It features a HD camera, Omnisonic speakers, directional microphones and a custom G6 chip. Combined with the new Ink Focus in Microsoft OneNote, or the upcoming GoodNotes app, Panay said that “digital ink on the screen feels like writing with pen and paper”.

There’s Intel and Arm options in terms of processors. “In either case, you’re getting the same iconic Surface Pro form, great performance, all-day battery life and secured-core capabilities,” Panay added. “The choice comes down to the combination of scenarios that are most critical to you and how you work, create and connect.”

A person on a video call holds up the new Surface Pro 9 tablet.

Surface Pro 9. Image: Microsoft

Microsoft is also upgrading Surface Studio, its all-in-one PC that was first launched in 2016.

The 28-inch Surface Studio 2+ comes with Intel’s i7 processor and Nvidia’s RTX 3060 graphics card, along with enhanced display, cameras, mics and ports.

Along with these new devices, Microsoft is making updates to Windows 11 – the operating system that first launched last year. This includes some features that could come in handy for Apple users.

A product shot of the new Surface Studio 2+ PC.

Surface Studio 2+. Image: Microsoft

A new integration with iCloud and the Photos app in Windows 11 will let users access photos from their iPhone right on their Windows PC. From Novembers, users will be able to install the iCloud for Windows app from the Microsoft Store and sync their iCloud photos.

The Apple Music app is also coming to Xbox, while the Apple Music and Apple TV apps will launch on Windows next year.

There are new Microsoft accessories to boot.

The company revealed that Microsoft Adaptive Accessories will be available in select markets from the end of this month. These are a range of pieces designed for people who may have difficulty using a traditional mouse and keyboard to create their ideal set-up.

Different adaptive accessories are laid on on a desk.

Microsoft Adaptive Accessories. Image: Microsoft

Microsoft is also rolling out new tools to improve hybrid meetings.

Microsoft Presenter+ is a remote that lets users control presentations, advance slides, mute and join meetings in Teams or other apps. It connects via Bluetooth and has customisable controls.

Meanwhile, Microsoft Audio Dock aims to upgrade meeting audio, music and more. It has four different ports and a pass-through PC charger, with Omnisonic speakers, noise-reducing microphones and integrated mute control.

A person's hand is holding the Microsoft Presenter+ remote.

Microsoft Presenter+. Image: Microsoft

Finally, Microsoft is getting in on the AI-generated image trend. Microsoft Designer is a new graphic design app powered by AI, including DALL-E 2.

It’s also integrating DALL-E 2 – the text-to-image tech from OpenAI – with the Image Creator tool in Bing and Microsoft Edge.

“Designer helps you create from your own content or ideas and makes it easy to design social media posts, invitations and much more, fast,” Panay said. “It also automatically helps you get a variety of unique images and designs that are generated just for you.”

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Sarah Harford is sub-editor of Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com