What new hardware does Microsoft have in store?
Area media outlets may soon find out when Microsoft kicks off its Windows 10 event on Wednesday, Oct. 26 in New York City. The company sent out invitations to tech insiders late last week. For everyone else, the company will be livestreaming the proceedings.
The event is being held to showcase "what's next for Windows 10," according to Microsoft. A spokesperson declined to comment on the particulars of the event and what the company plans to announce. But if Microsoft makes a tradition out of unveiling new devices, like it did during last year's event, there's a good chance that there will be new hardware on display.
Last year, Microsoft surprised industry watchers by taking the wraps of its first laptop, the Surface Book two-in-one. Its unveiling was a big addition to the Surface product portfolio, which also includes the Surface Hub interactive whiteboard and teleconferencing solution for corporate meeting rooms.
In 2014, after an underwhelming and expensive debut, Microsoft reinvigorated its homegrown tablet line with the introduction of the productivity-focused Surface Pro 3 (the company subsequently stopped producing its ARM-powered, money-losing Surface RT tablets).
The move was a prudent one. "Surface is the iconic Microsoft device for people who want to be productive," Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft's Windows and Devices Group, told attendees at last year's event. "In just three years, Surface has grown from a zero-dollar business for Microsoft to over $3.5 billion a year."
Also shown a year ago were the Surface Pro 4 tablet, the (short-lived) Band 2 fitness wearable, the HoloLens Development Edition and a smattering of Lumia Windows phones. This year, Microsoft appears to be adding an iMac competitor and new Surface-branded peripherals to the mix.
Microsoft is readying a Surface all-in-one PC, available in as many as three screen sizes (21, 24 and 27 inches), according to an earlier Windows Central report. Last week, the site came into possession of early promotional images showing a gray and minimalist Surface keyboard.
An ergonomic version of the peripheral, as well as a Surface Mouse, are also reportedly in the works. The company is also expected to announce a processor upgrade for the Surface Book (from Skylake to the upcoming Intel Kaby Lake chips) and design tweaks to one of the two-in-one's most distinctive features, the "dynamic fulcrum hinge" that attaches the screen to the keyboard portion.
Surface has turned into a success story for Microsoft, but it's one with a challenging chapter or two.
This spring, complaints about the Surface Pro 3's battery life began to fill up Microsoft's support forums. Users complained that their devices would last just on hour or two between charges, a far cry from the nine-hour claims (web browsing) made by Microsoft.
The company finally issued an update on Aug. 29, but it only appeared to solve the problem for users whose tablets were outfitted with batteries from Taiwanese mobile battery maker Simplo. However, Surface Pro 3 owners with LG batteries continued to report problems.