Microsoft IT Tools Get Support for Surface Laptop 4 Devices
Microsoft on Thursday released an updated Surface Tools for IT version 1.0 bundle, which typically now includes support for the new Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 devices, according to an announcement.
Earlier this week, Microsoft announced that its new Surface Laptop 4 devices can be ordered in Canada, U.S. and Japan markets, with shipments planned to start as early as April 15 of this year. Other markets will open later.
The Surface Tools for IT version 1.0 include Surface Enterprise Management Mode, which lets IT pros manage the firmware settings of various Microsoft Surface devices. It's a very device-specific tool and only works with some "Surface devices with Surface Unified Extensible Firmware Interface" firmware, according to a Microsoft document, which listed the devices supported.
Surface Diagnostic Tool for Business is yet another Surface device-specific Surface Tools for IT solution. It lets IT pros troubleshoot and fix "hardware, software and firmware issues." Surface Diagnostic Tool for Business also informs IT pros if the original solid-state drive (SSD) in a Surface device was replaced. IT pros can send this troubleshooting tool to end users to run it via an .MSI package or IT pros can run the tool remotely from a command line interface, according to this Microsoft document.
Microsoft's announcement indicated that the Surface Data Eraser in the Surface Tools for IT bundle has been reengineered to make it easier to wipe disks. Surface Data Eraser is said to securely erase a disk, which might be done to repurpose a machine. It works using a USB stick plugged into a Surface device, according to a Microsoft document description.
Also notable among the Surface Tools for IT bundle is the Surface Deployment Accelerator. It's an image builder for Surface devices. Microsoft is promising to "soon" add support in this tool for the new Surface Laptop 4 devices. The Surface Deployment Accelerator is "a script-driven tool to create Windows images (WIM) for test or deployment that are similar in configuration to Bare Metal Recovery (BMR) images, minus certain preinstalled applications like the Surface UWP application," Microsoft's GitHub page explained.
Surface Laptop 4
The new Surface Laptop 4 devices are sold with screens at 13.5 inches or 15 inches, and have the option to use either "11th Gen Intel Core processors or AMD Ryzen Mobile Processors with Radeon Graphics Microsoft Surface Edition (8 cores)." Full specs are listed at this page, and there's a Microsoft Mechanics video description available in this announcement.
One very narrow perk for IT pros with Surface Laptop 4 devices is that the solid-state drives (SSDs) in them can be removed and replaced by a "skilled technician." Microsoft had described a similar capability for the Surface Pro 7+ devices earlier this year. SSD replacement comes with lots of caveats, though. Microsoft Surface devices generally are not considered to be hardware-upgradeable devices.
Surface Laptop 4 devices are said to be priced starting at $999.99. Machines with 16GB of RAM and 512GB SSDs were priced starting at 1799.99 at this Antonline vendor page.
Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Susan Bradley recently suggested in a Computerworld article that organizations using Windows 10 and Microsoft Teams will likely need at least 16GB of RAM because Teams is such a memory hog.
New Surface Accessories
On top of its Surface Laptop 4 news, Microsoft announced a wireless Surface Headphones 2+ product for business users, priced at $299.99, and available for ordering. Surface Headphones 2+ devices have noise canceling capabilities and support "18.5 hours of music listening or up to 15 hours of voice calling time."
Coming soon will be Microsoft Modern USB Headsets and Modern Wireless Headsets, which are optimized for use with the Microsoft Teams collaboration service. When available, they will have dedicated Teams and mute buttons, priced at $49.99.
Also for Teams users, Microsoft unveiled its Modern USB-C Speaker device, which will ship in June. The Modern USB-C Speaker device will cost $99.99 and can be ordered through authorized resellers.
If that weren't enough, Microsoft has produced a Modern Webcam device that attaches to monitors or laptops to provide 1080p video. The Modern Webcam will ship in June, priced at $69.99, and can be ordered from authorized resellers.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.