Signs Point to Microsoft Surface Pro Refresh in October

Rumors are heating up that Microsoft is gearing up for a major event this fall to showcase new Windows devices.

Microsoft Surface update

Considering it made its official debut well over a year ago, Microsoft's well-received Surface Pro 3 tablet is more than ready for a refresh. According to WPDang, a Chinese technology news site, Microsoft will unveil its successor—along with several other Windows 10 devices and a couple of surprises—in an early October event.

According to the site and mounting rumors, Microsoft is preparing to take the wraps off the Windows 10-powered Surface Pro 4 at the event. Expected to largely carry forward the look and feel of the previous version, rumors indicate that the productivity-focused tablet may get a significant performance increase, courtesy of Intel's latest Skylake processor technology.

Earlier this month at the Gamescon 2015 show in Germany, Intel unveiled new Core i7-6700K and i5-6600K desktop processors based on the 14-nanometer chip technology for PC gamers. With up to four cores and a base frequency of 4GHz, the processors offer a 10 percent performance boost, native support for DDR4 memory and lower power requirements than current "Broadwell" processors.

Last month, during the Windows 10 launch, officials at Intel were optimistic that business users would flock to the new operating system and a fresh batch of Skylake-based two-in-ones and devices like the high-powered Lenovo ThinkPad P70 notebook PC. Representing the "next step in performance and power efficiency," corporate buyers will finally have a compelling reason to upgrade from Windows 7, said Josh Newman, general manager of Intel's 2-in-1 and Tablet Segment, at the time.

However, industry watchers remain split on which chip technology will power the device. Microsoft may instead opt for 14-nanometer Core M Broadwell processors. Launched during the IFA 2014 show last September, Core M is currently helping OEMs churn out ultrathin devices like Apple's sleek new MacBook.

Apart from the new Surface Pro 4, Microsoft is also expected to show off new high-end smartphones running Windows 10 Mobile.

New flagships, the Lumia 950 and 5.7-inch 950 XL, will make their debut at the event. The smartphones are predicted to include 32GB of storage, a 20-megapixel shooter and support for the Qi wireless charging standard. The more affordable Lumia 550, 750 and 850 handsets are also expected to appear.

The Xbox One, criticized for its big and blocky dimensions—at least compared to the slimmer PlayStation 4 from rival Sony—may get hit with a shrink ray this fall. At the event, the company may reveal a smaller, quieter Xbox One that occupies one-third the space of the current model and drops Blu-ray support, according to WPDang.

Finally, the public will get its first look at the Band 2, an update to Microsoft's fitness wearable first introduced in October. Though lauded for its bright touch-screen display and its bevy of sensors (10 in total, including a heart-rate monitor), the device—ideally worn with the screen over the inside of the wrist—proved bulkier and less ergonomically pleasing than competing wearables. The new version is expected to be a big improvement on those fronts.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...