Microsoft announces Surface Pro 4, Surface Book and more

Microsoft device announcements don’t tend to generate quite the excitement that Apple product launches do, but today’s #windows10devices event had a few announcements.

While Windows 10 launched on the desktop at the end of July, Windows 10 for phones is still in beta with a release due imminently.

Microsoft’s ditching of its Nokia division may not have been great timing, but the Lumia phone brand is Microsoft’s and two new phones were announced. Both the Lumia 950 and 950XL are due in November. A really interesting new feature of the XL is the ability to plug in a monitor and keyboard (using Microsoft’s new “Display Dock” hardware adapter) and run Windows universal apps on a decent size monitor.

As expected the Surface Pro 4 was officially announced. It predecessor, the Surface Pro 3, is a great device and can serve as a laptop replacement for some. One component you might not expect in a tablet is a fan – and this one’s particularly noticeable. I’d hoped that the Surface Pro 4 would have a fanless design, but this one does have a fan. Let’s just hope it’s quieter! Enhancements to the Pro 4 include being thinner and lighter and having a better type cover keyboard, a larger trackpad and a slightly larger screen with a reduced bezel. Microsoft claims the Surface Pro 4 is 30% faster than its predecessor, which already was a pretty decent performer. The product tops out at 1TB of storage and 16GB RAM, which is an improvement over even the thin and light Ultrabook format where 8GB is normally the maximum.

The big surprise was the launch of a Surface Book, which is a full laptop with 13.5” 267 dpi screen, dedicated graphics chipset, a backlit keyboard and a quoted 12 hour battery life.

As a long-time user of the Lenovo Yoga, the Surface Book’s hinge looks at first sight like it might fold back on itself Yoga-style. Instead, the screen detaches to become a tablet in its own right and can be flipped round to plug back in to the keyboard. This is better than the Yoga, as the keyboard doesn’t end up exposed when folded back.

Some interesting features reside in the base, including the USB ports and, interestingly, the GPU. This might well be my next laptop.

A nice quote from Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella “No single device will be the hub of activity forever. The hub is you."