The last few months have been a tough time for Surface fans. While Panos Panay’s departure is still on people’s minds, no one knows if Surface will continue as it has or become obsolete like Windows Phone did before it.
Microsoft has publicly stated that it remains committed to Surface, and Panay’s departure changes nothing. But we already know that Microsoft has narrowed the Surface portfolio down to its core consumer products, which explains why we’ve seen so little of the Surface team last year.
In 2023, Microsoft released updates to the Surface Hub, Surface Laptop Studio, Surface Laptop Go, and Surface Go lines, consisting primarily of minor specification changes and price increases across the board. But oddly enough, Microsoft hasn’t shipped a new Surface Pro or Surface Laptop this year, so what’s next for Surface?
According to my sources, Microsoft is working on significant updates to its Surface Pro and Surface Laptop lines, which sources say will feature significant upgrades with improved designs, new features and next-generation silicon in the form from Intel 14th generation and Qualcomm X. Series chips. I’ve heard that the new devices will be announced in the spring and marketed as Microsoft’s first true next-generation AI PCs.
Intel and Arm, with an emphasis on Arm
For the first time, Surface Pro and Surface Laptop will be available in Intel and Arm versions, and both will feature next-generation silicon NPU (neural processing unit). Sources are particularly excited about the Arm variants, which I believe will be powered by a customized version of Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon X Series chips.
Internally, Microsoft calls next-generation Arm devices powered by Qualcomm’s new chips “PC CADMUS.” These PCs are designed specifically for the next version of Windows, named Hudson Valley, and will use many of the upcoming next-generation AI experiences that Microsoft is integrating into the 2024 version of Windows.
Specifically, Microsoft is touting CADMUS PCs as truly competitive with Apple Silicon, offering similar battery life, performance, and safety. The upcoming Surface Pro and Surface Laptop are expected to be among the first CADMUS PCs to ship next year in preparation for Hudson Valley’s release later in 2024.
Surface 6 Laptop
So what’s different with the Surface Laptop 6? I’m told this new Surface Laptop will finally have an updated design with thinner bezels, rounded screen corners, and more ports. This will be the first time that Microsoft’s Surface Laptop line will receive a design refresh, which is long overdue.
The Surface Laptop 6 will again be available in two sizes. However, I’m told the smaller model will have a slightly larger 13.8-inch screen, compared to 13.5 inches on the Surface Laptop 5. Sources say the larger model remains at 15 inches.
I’m told the Surface Laptop 6 will also have an expanded selection of ports, including two USB-C ports and one USB-A port, as well as the Surface Connect magnetic charging port. Microsoft is also adding a haptic touchpad (likely with Sensel technology) and a dedicated Copilot button on the keyboard for quick access to Windows Copilot.
Overall, the Surface Laptop 6 is shaping up to be a significant update to the product line, designed to compete with the MacBook Air.
Surface Pro 10
The next Surface Pro is also shaping up to be a significant update, but not as drastic as the Surface Laptop 6. According to my sources, the biggest changes to the Surface Pro 10 are primarily related to its display, which according to my sources sources, is now brighter. supports HDR content, has a new anti-glare coating to reduce glare, and now also sports rounded display corners.
I also heard that Microsoft is testing a version of Surface Pro 10 with a slightly lower resolution 2160 x 1440 screen, compared to the 2880 x 1920 screen found on previous Surface Pro models. Sources claim that this lower resolution panel is only being considered for lower tier models, meaning the more expensive models will continue to come with a higher resolution screen.
Finally, I also heard that Microsoft will equip the next Surface Pro with an NFC reader for business customers and a wider FoV webcam, which will be enhanced with Windows Studio Effects. It should also be available in new colors. I’ve also heard that we might get an updated Type Cover accessory with a dedicated Copilot button for quick access to Windows Copilot.
It should not be underestimated that thanks to the upcoming Arm chip, this next Surface Pro will be much better than the previous one in terms of performance, probably approaching or even matching that of the MacBook Air and iPad Pro.
What else is Surface working on?
So the Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 will be the stars of the show for 2024. I’ve heard that Microsoft might also ship another Surface Laptop Go next year (see our recent Surface Laptop Go 3 review), but I don’t have any concrete details on this product at the moment.
I’ve also heard rumors that Microsoft is considering a retail-only version of the Surface Pro and Surface Laptop that would retain the current designs of the Surface Laptop 5 and Surface Pro 9, but with updated 14th generation Intel chips and other minor improvements. However, I don’t know if these will actually ship.
Beyond 2024, my sources indicate that Microsoft is working on a larger design update for the Surface Pro line that targets a late 2025 release window. It’s too early to know how exactly this will be different, but some Sources say the company is considering an 11-inch Surface Pro model that would ship alongside the standard 13-inch model.
Microsoft is also working on the next Surface Laptop Studio (read our Surface Laptop Studio 2 review for context), which is targeting a similar release window in late 2025. Not much is known about the Surface Laptop Studio 3 yet, although I understand that Microsoft intends to offer it for the first time in the Intel and Arm versions.
Gn En tech