Microsoft Unveils Four New Surface Devices
Microsoft mostly talked about Copilot AI in its annual new hardware announce event, but four new Surface devices also were described.
Microsoft on Thursday unveiled four new Surface devices for businesses.
The new devices are Surface Laptop Studio 2, Surface Laptop Go 3, Surface Go 4 and Surface Hub 3. Availability wasn't described, but they are listed at this Microsoft Surface for Business landing page. They can also be obtained from device resellers, as described at this page.
The news about the new Surface devices was delivered at the end of an hour-long Sept. 21 Microsoft presentation, fronted by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. It mostly focused on Microsoft's coming Copilot artificial intelligence product releases, as described in this Redmond article.
Chief Product Officer Panos Panay, typically prominent at Microsoft's Surface events, didn't appear at this event, as he recently indicated that he was stepping down.
New Surface Business Products
The new Surface products for businesses include:
- Surface Laptop Studio 2, with up to "2x" more computing power and graphics performance to suit the needs of "developers," "designers," "engineers" and "data analysts."
- Surface Laptop Go 3, a lightweight device with "all-day battery life" that also features Secured-core PC security protections.
- Surface Go 4, an "ultra-portable" two-in-one device with "12.5 hours of battery life" for frontline workers such as "healthcare workers and retail pros," that's also a Secured-core PC.
- Surface Hub 3, a 50-inch or 85-inch multitouch screen that can rotate from landscape to portrait orientation using "Smart Rotation," with BitLocker encryption and Trusted Platform Module 2.0 security.
Microsoft also indicated that the Surface Pro 9 with 5G, built using the Arm-based Microsoft SQ1 chip, will be adding the ability for users to reimage the devices next year:
In Spring 2024, we will also create the ability for customers to build and reimage their Arm devices using Configuration Manager OS Deployment and for the first time we'll release much-requested MSI Driver Packages.
New Surface Device Highlights
Microsoft promised that Surface devices have "chip-to-cloud security," with protections at the "boot and firmware level." Microsoft also indicated that IT pros can lock down the USB ports in the Surface Laptop Studio 2 device for docking stations when the machine gets used outside the office, if wanted.
Microsoft touted Intune management of Surface devices using the Surface Management Portal, which gives IT pros "a single pane of glass for your device management needs." The management of warranty claims is newly enhanced using the Surface Management Portal as well, as described in this announcement.
Surface devices also get "six years of driver and firmware support" after general availability, which Microsoft characterized as taking its support commitments "one step further." Microsoft's current document on the Surface driver and firmware lifecycle, dated Sept. 21, 2023, just stated that "Surface devices will receive driver and firmware updates for at least 4 years from when the device was first released." The new Surface models, though, were not listed in that document at press time.
Surface Hub 3 Perks
Microsoft's new Surface Hub 3 videoconferencing device for meeting rooms perhaps had the most notable enhancements, and seems to be refreshing Microsoft's videoconferencing and white-boarding product. Years ago, a planned Surface Hub 2X product, which was to have gotten the Smart Rotation capability as its main feature, wasn't produced.
The Surface Hub 3 device has a "60% CPU performance increase, and a 160% GPU graphics performance increase gen-on-gen." It supports inking with two Surface Hub Pens or Surface Slim Pens. It's Smart Rotation capability flips from landscape to portrait screen views.
Microsoft also suggested that Surface Hub 3 has AI enhancements that improves the meetings experience, including a "Front Row" view feature putting participants at eye level. Yet to come will be "Copilot in Whiteboard on Surface Hub," which was said to help "generate and organize ideas efficiently."
Surface Hub 3 runs on the Teams Rooms on Windows operating system, which gives it a "a consistent experience across all meeting spaces." It will pair with "Microsoft Teams Rooms certified peripherals in larger conference rooms, thanks to the Microsoft Teams Rooms on Windows platform," Microsoft explained in this announcement.
"Microsoft Teams Rooms" used to be the marketing term that Microsoft just applied to partner-built conferencing devices, as differentiated from the Microsoft-built Surface Hub device. Microsoft seems to be saying that the Surface Hub 3 will play well with partner-built Teams Rooms devices, possibly because it uses the same operating system.
Notably, organizations using Surface Hub2S, the current product, can upgrade "in-market" machines by installing a "Surface Hub 3 Pack," which is a piece of hardware that screws into the base of the device. It'll be possible for these upgraded machines to also use Microsoft Teams Rooms on Windows via a coming software migration, "starting next year."
New for IT pros is the Microsoft Teams Rooms Pro Management Portal, which is licensed separately. It shows device health details in a dashboard view and enables trouble ticketing. Microsoft's other management solution for Surface Hub 3 is the Microsoft Teams Admin Center.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.