Surface used to stand for high-quality hardware that dared to break with conventions. This is how the device class of tablet PCs emerged – powerful tablets with a dockable keyboard that can be used like a notebook. They wanted to stand up to Apple with an “all-encompassing user experience,” where hardware and software also come from a single source.
However, Microsoft has now opted for mediocrity. Surface is no longer a prestige project.
Mark Mantel has been an editor at heise online and c’t since 2019. He mainly takes care of online reporting about PC hardware.
Unspecial special event
In a Special Event™ – an hour-long video that Microsoft put online at the start – Surface came after 43 minutes. And then four loveless new editions with more powerful processors and some faster GPUs were introduced. Private individuals can buy two of them; The small Surface Go 4 tablet, for example, goes exclusively to corporate customers.
In its newsroom, Microsoft didn’t even give the new Surface announcements a separate article. Instead, they’re buried in the message about the AI copilot – on a 1440p monitor you have to scroll 4.5 windows to get to the Surface devices. At the end there is a link to a separately published blog post – good visibility looks different.
Everything about these announcements seemed as if Microsoft itself was no longer interested in Surface. In any case, the head behind the division is gone – just three days before the event, Microsoft announced internally that Panos Panay is leaving the company. According to rumors, Microsoft only wants to continue with the Surface core products, such as the Surface Pros and Surface Laptops. Unusual concepts should be buried and new ones should not be further developed for the time being, including the Surface Duo.
AI everywhere, just not in the cheaper laptops
And even with its current product maintenance status, the company could be doing so much better. If the entire marketing is based on artificial intelligence, then processors with integrated AI accelerators would have been appropriate. At least functions such as Windows Studio effects and image tagging could then run efficiently locally.
To do this, Microsoft would have had to wait until the turn of the year for Intel’s next generation of processors, Meteor Lake (Core Ultra), or rely on AMD’s Ryzen 7040. One can hope that the change will take place on the Surface Laptop 6 and Surface Pro 10 and that is why they have not yet been announced. Until then, these two series will remain at the technological level of 2022.
In summary: Surface in 2023 will be lost in the flood of other usable to good devices. A pity.
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