Microsoft Unveils Long-Awaited Surface Pro Hybrid Tablet

Microsoft announces its new Surface Pro, successor to the popular but long-in-the-tooth Surface Pro 4.

Surface Pro

The wait is over. Microsoft today officially took the wraps off the long-awaited follow-up to the Surface Pro 4, which has been on the market since October 2015, during a media event in Shanghai, China.

Now simply called the Surface Pro, Microsoft's newest Windows tablet-slash-hybrid PC looks strikingly similar to its predecessor, the Surface Pro 4. But according to Panos Panay, corporate vice president of Microsoft Devices, many of the changes are internal, yielding a faster and quieter device.

The latest Surface Pro is lighter at 1.7 pounds—despite a 0.05mm increase in thickness—and stuffed with performance-enhancing components like seventh-generation "Kaby Lake" Intel Core processors. In top trim, the device is outfitted with an Intel Core i7 chip, 1TB of solid-state drive storage and 16GB of RAM for $2,699.

In this latest generation, the Core m3 and i5 models are going fanless, making them virtually silent. Even under load, the i7 models are rated at a whisper quiet 18 decibels, according to Panay.

The new processors offer up to 2.5 times the performance of those used in the Surface Pro 3. With up to 13.5 hours of battery life, the new Surface Pro run 50 percent longer between charges than the Surface Pro 4.

Surface Pro also retains its distinctive 12.3-inch PixelSense display, with a 3:2 aspect ratio and a resolution of 2,736 pixels by 1,824 pixels. In keeping with Microsoft's "creators" kick, it now includes a new component designed to produce high-fidelity visuals.

"We developed custom silicon, the PixelSense Accelerator, to really enhance color," wrote Panay in a May 23 blog post. "Your colors will be more vibrant, precise and impactful than ever before, and just like with Studio, we've provided a color-switcher, so you can go from SRGB to enhanced color in seconds."

It also comes with an improved detachable keyboard, called the Signature Type Covers, with just 1.3mm of key travel to enable fast typing.

Sometime later this year, Microsoft plans to ship units featuring LTE Advanced support, enabling internet connectivity on cellular networks that support the high-speed standard. WiFi-only models offer 802.11ac support and compatibility with 802.11 a/b/g/n networks.

Microsoft's Surface Pro is available for preorder now with a June 15 ship date. Prices start at $799 for the Intel Core m3 model with 128GB of onboard storage (expandable with a microSD card) and 4GB of RAM.

In other hardware news, Microsoft's HoloLens mixed-reality headset officially launched in China today. The technology giant also said that Project Scorpio, the forthcoming Xbox hardware capable of 4K gaming, will also arrive in China later this year.

On the software front, Microsoft announced a version of Windows for Chinese government customers. Dubbed Windows 10 China Government Edition, the system software is the product of CMIT, a joint venture between Microsoft and China's state-owned China Electronics Technology Group (CETC).

Windows 10 China Government Edition is based on Windows 10 Enterprise Edition and borrows many of that business-focused management capabilities, but with a few twists.

"The China Government Edition will use these manageability features to remove features that are not needed by Chinese government employees like OneDrive, to manage all telemetry and updates, and to enable the government to use its own encryption algorithms within its computer systems," Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft, stated in a May 23 announcement.

So far, China Customs, the City of Shanghai (EITC) and Westone Information Technology have piloted the OS, said Myerson. Chinese PC maker Lenovo will be among the first OEMs to ship devices with Windows 10 China Government Edition preinstalled.

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 network of...