Microsoft’s most expensive Surface is about to get even more expensive.
At a press event on Wednesday, Microsoft is set to unveil several Surface Pro tablets, Surface Laptop models, and the Surface Studio 2+ desktop computer, the last of which hasn’t been updated in several years.
The new 28-inch Surface Studio 2+, an all-in-one desktop PC, now features an Intel Core H-35 processor, 50% faster CPU performance and an updated NVIDIA chip for faster graphics. The device also includes an updated screen, cameras and microphones, and supports a digital stylus for drawing on the screen. It also has several ports, including USB with Thunderbolt 4, and the screen can be split into four different applications simultaneously for greater multitasking.
Surface Studio 2+ starts at $4,299, $4,499 with numberto pen. The previous Surface Studio 2, released in 2018, received some criticism for its $3,499 start. price. Microsoft told CNN Business that the price jump this year has been attributed to several significant improvements, Including a new processor, a 1TB SSD hard drive for faster file transfers, and an improved 1080p camera, among other features.
Announcements related to Microsoft’s updated Surface lineup will start for days Ignite the developers conference on Wednesday. This event comes in the name of Microsoft It marks the 10th anniversary of the Surface line, which originally launched with a tablet to take over the iPad.
Like other tech companies unveiling new products this fall, Microsoft also faces a more challenging economic environment, including high inflation and fears of a looming recession, which could make it difficult to convince customers to spend three or even four figures to upgrade hardware.
While the new Surface products don’t differ much in design or screen size from previous iterations, the latest devices do feature some upgrades, including new chipsets for better performance.
Microsoft showed off its flagship Surface Pro 9 tablet, which was once again intended to replace the laptop. The 2-in-1 features an aluminum casing in new colors too Built-in kickstand and PixelSense display. Below the display is an HD camera, updated speakers and microphones, and a dedicated G6 chip. Microsoft said the chip helps launch applications with digital ink, such as Ink Focus in Microsoft OneNote and the GoodNotes app for Windows 11, which is designed to make it feel as if the user is writing with a pen and paper.
Surface Pro 9 also offers a choice of processors. The first option is a 12th generation Intel Core processor built on the Intel Evo 4 platform with Thunderbolt 4 – a combination that promises 50% more performance, improved multitasking and desktop productivity, faster data transfer, and the ability to dock on multiple 4K displays. The second option is the Microsoft SQ3 processor powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon with 5G connectivity, with up to 19 hours of battery and new AI features.
Surface Pro 9 is available in four colors, including platinum, graphite, sapphire, and woodland. Starts at $999.
Microsoft has also introduced an update to its ultra-portable laptop, the Surface Laptop 5, which looks very similar to its predecessor but with a processor update that may try to bring it closer to competition with Apple’s ARM-based chips for macOS laptops.
The Surface Laptop 5 runs on the Intel Evo platform and comes in two display sizes: 13.5″ and 15″. It comes with updated Dolby Atmos 3D spatial speakers, a high-resolution front camera that automatically adjusts the camera’s exposure in any lighting, and several new aluminum colors, such as cool metallic, sage, and Alcantara. The company also said that it promises a day of battery life on a single charge which is 50% more powerful than its predecessor.
The Surface Laptop starts at $999 for the 13.5-inch version and $1,299 for the 15-inch version. Pre-orders for Surface products begin Wednesday in select markets and begin hitting shelves later this month.
Microsoft devices account for 3% to 5% of the tablet market, according to David McQueen, an analyst at ABI Research. Instead, the bulk of its revenue comes from Microsoft OS via various types of devices, connected apps, and cloud services.
“Microsoft is able to survive in the hardware sector because of the revenue from these services,” McQueen said. It’s a similar approach to Google whose Pixel smartphone remains a niche product but serves as a way for the company to highlight its apps and operating system.
On Wednesday, the company also announced a new Microsoft Designer and Image Creator app in Bing and the Edge browser to bring advanced graphic design to mainstream audiences. The platform relies heavily on a partnership with startup OpenAI and AI-powered tool DALL-E 2, which creates custom images using text prompts. DALL-E 2 is also coming to Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI service.
Brands are increasingly using DALL-E 2 for advertisements and product inspiration, according to Microsoft. In a blog post, the company detailed how Mattel Toys sought the DALL-E 2 to envision what future cars could look like, such as changing colors and writing “make it convertible,” among other commands.
Experts in artificial intelligence have raised concerns that the open nature of these systems — making them adept at creating all kinds of images from words — and their ability to automate image making means they can automate bias at scale. In a previous test of the OpenAI system, for example, typing the word “CEO” showed images that were all men and nearly all were white.
Microsoft said it takes these concerns seriously. According to the company, Microsoft servers will reject inappropriate text message requests, and users will eventually be banned for repeat violations.
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