Microsoft Reveals New Surface Devices, Unveils AI Art Hooks
Microsoft kicked off this week's Ignite conference with a Surface presentation on Wednesday morning, detailing refreshed models of its Surface Pro, Surface Laptop and Surface Studio.
During a 30-minute video presentation led by Microsoft Chief Product Officer Panos Panay, the new devices and enhancements, including integration with AI-generated image technology, were shown off. Here are the major announcements.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 5
Microsoft's laptop is back for the fifth generation, with most of the minor changes over the 2021 model coming internally. Both 13.5- and 15.5-inch models come with a 12th-generation Intel Chip (an improvement over Surface Laptop 4's 11th-gen Intel chip) and an additional Thunderbolt 4 port. Microsoft said the jump to the 12th-generation chip will increase performance by 50 percent and users should see a major increase in battery life.
The biggest change in this year's model is the exclusion of an AMD version -- last year's Surface Laptop gave the option of an AMD Ryzen 7 chip. The latest Surface Laptop will start shipping Oct. 25 and cost $1,000 for the 13.5-inch version and $1,300 for the 15.5-inch version.
Surface Pro 9
While Microsoft removed CPU choice in its Surface Laptop 5, it's adding an option for its Surface Pro 9, the company's hybrid tablet/laptop. This year's models will let you choose between a 12th-generation Intel Chip or the SQ3 Arm-powered processor with 5G support.
As with last year's model, both versions of the Surface Pro 9 come with 13-inch PixelSense Flow Display (2880 x 1920) with support for 120Hz and will come in the same chassis as last year's device.
While the device hardware might not be changing much, Microsoft used the unveiling to show off its new Voice Focus feature, which cancels all background noise during a video call. Microsoft demonstrated this by showing off a call where a leaf blower was on in the immediate background. Only the caller's voice transmitted during the demo.
Microsoft's Surface Pro 9 will start at $1,000 for the base Intel model and $1,300 for the base SQ3 model, with shipping starting on Oct. 25.
Surface Studio 2 Plus
Microsoft is updating its premiere touch-enabled PC for the first time since 2018 with the Surface Studio 2 Plus. Despite the gap since the Surface Studio 2's release, this announcement follows the trend of introducing new internals, while keeping the same design. Surface Studio 2 Plus will come with an 11th-Gen Core i7-11370H and Nvidia's RTX 3060 laptop GPU with 6GB of VRAM, which is a substantial increase over the 2018's Nvidia GTX 1060 GPU.
The device will continue to have a 28-inch PixelSense touchscreen (4500 x 3000), but with additional support for Dolby Vision, and will include three USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports on the back. Also available on Oct. 25, the Surface Studio 2 Plus will cost $4,299 (or $4,499 with keyboard, stylus and mouse).
The company took the opportunity during the unveiling of its Surface Studio 2 Plus to announce its new Microsoft 365 app, Microsoft Designer, its answer to the popular Canva design app.
The app will use the DALL-E artificial intelligence technology to generate images with simple keywords. Panay showed off its capabilities by generating a social media post celebrating 10 years of the Microsoft Surface with just the use of a few keywords.
"With Designer, there's no need to spend time building cards or social media posts from scratch," wrote Liat Ben-Zur, Corporate Vice President, Modern Life, Search, and Devices, in a follow-up blog post on Wednesday. "And you no longer need to search through thousands of pre-made templates. Designer invites you to start with an idea and let the AI do the heavy lifting."
Microsoft also said during today's Surface presentation that the AI-driven tech will also make its way into Bing image search, letting users create custom images through the company's Web browser. Both Microsoft Designer and Image Creator from Microsoft Bing will be hitting preview in the coming months.