Microsoft building a successor to the Surface 2

26 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Microsoft reportedly working on new Surface tablet that ditches Windows RT.

A year later, the company unveiled the Surface Pro 3, but made no mention of a regular “Surface 3” at a lower price point; Microsoft also abruptly scraped plans for a Surface Mini that was presumably intended to compete against Apple’s iPad mini. While the first two generations of Surface tablets were undeniably clunky, the SP3’s clean lines and bright, forceful design have carved out a niche in the 2-in-1 market that no other manufacturer has matched. The device is expected to be fanless with either Intel Atom or Intel Core M based processor and will run a full-version of Windows. “This is a first for the non-pro Surface line-up, and further solidifies reports regarding the death of Windows RT,” adds the report. WinBeta claims the new Surface will be unveiled before or at Microsoft’s Build conference next month, and should hit retail in close proximity to that announcement.

It will reportedly ship with a full version of Windows — likely to be 8.1 — and be upgradeable to Windows 10 when that ships sometime this summer. In fact, here’s what I think Microsoft may do: release an “updated” SP3 with an ultra-low-power processor in the near future, then reveal a significantly redesigned Surface Pro 4 in the fall to coincide with the launch of Windows 10. Microsoft has already washed its hands of the unsuccessful Windows RT operating system, so it’s no surprise to hear that all of its tablet plans now revolve around full-blown Windows. Now it appears the company has every intention of battling lower-priced tablets from Amazon and Google along with premium products like Apple’s iPad Air 2. This presents a good opportunity for crafting an entire new generation of Surface tablets—whose central selling point, I believe, could be a suite of apps built on Windows 10, depth cameras, and services like Microsoft Hello.

In our own processor-intensive battery tests, the SP3 lasted about 4 hours, although you’ll get more life if you limit yourself to light web surfing and office work. I think it makes perfect sense for Microsoft to design a Surface lineup based on Intel’s 14-nm chips, with an Atom or Core M offering on the low end, and Core i3, i5, and i7 chips for the fastest, most feature-laden versions.

And if Microsoft is determined to ditch ARM and Windows RT for good, this could be an opportunity to rethink the basic Surface tablet—we’ll call it Surface 3—as an Intel-powered device. Instead of significant reductions in power, Intel is promising to overhaul the entire PC experience by eliminating wires: replacing ethernet with 802.11ac, ditching power cords for wireless charging, and even including LTE support for connecting on the go.

Microsoft already markets a number of wireless charging accessories for its Lumia phones, but I’m not entirely convinced that a Surface will ever include that feature. Consider the geometry: A Surface tablet is generally propped at an angle, while wireless charging works best when the tablet lays flat against the charger. The new OS will include Microsoft Hello, a friendly name for the biometric technologies that have already appeared on Apple’s iPhone, Samsung’s Galaxy phones, and other handsets.

If consumers accept Hello as a way to avoid using passwords—and while some undoubtedly won’t, I expect most will—Microsoft can seize that user interest by adding related authentication services. But Microsoft’s announcement of Hello and the addition of the RealSense depth camera in Dell’s tablet fills me with confidence that eventually the Surface line will include such a camera.

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