Microsoft Surface launch event: what to expect

We’re crawling ever closer to finding out what new products will be announced at Microsoft’s Surface event, set to take place on October 12th at 10AM ET. Microsoft’s Surface range encompasses phones, laptops, hybrid 2-in-1 tablets, and desktop computers, so there’s a good variety of hardware that could make an appearance. 

While we can make a few safe assumptions regarding what will and won’t be shown off (we’re sadly not anticipating a new Surface Duo foldable), Microsoft may still have a few surprises in store, given that this year marks the 10th anniversary of Microsoft’s first-ever Surface product that was released back in October 2012. 

Here’s everything we’re looking forward to at the upcoming Microsoft Surface launch event.

The Surface Pro X is (allegedly) dead: long live the Surface Pro 9 

The Surface Pro range is one of Microsoft’s most consistent yearly releases, so when the Surface Pro 9 was spotted in a recently published FCC document, it was safe to assume it has an imminent arrival. As the Surface Pro 8 made some pretty significant updates over its predecessor (including a larger display, 120Hz refresh rate, and Thunderbolt ports), the Surface Pro 9 isn’t expected to receive any mind-blowing updates this generation.

WinFuture anticipates that it’ll ship with a choice of Intel 12th Generation Core i5 or Core i7 U-series chips, which should result in a performance boost of around 20 percent when compared to the equivalent 11th Gen processors in the Surface Pro 8. Much like its predecessor, we believe the Surface Pro 9 will be available in 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB RAM options and 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB storage configurations. 

The Surface Pro 8 seen from above and to the right on a table with the Surface Slim Pen 2 next to it and Signature Keyboard attached. The screen displays a blue swirl on a white background.

If you’re hoping the Surface Pro 9 will have a fresh new look… keep hoping. It’s highly unlikely.
Photo by Becca Farsace / The Verge

There’s no word on updates to ports, but several rumors do suggest we’ll be getting new blue and green color options on top of the usual black and silver offerings.

The Surface Pro 9 might also spell the end of the line for another Microsoft product, the ARM-based Surface Pro X. Windows Central reports that the Surface Pro 9 will offer both Intel and ARM options under a single product line. The ARM variant would be powered by the Microsoft SQ3, a custom Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 SoC, and it’s likely to be the first Surface PC to ship with 5G.

Pricing, frankly, is anyone’s guess right now. If the Surface Pro 9 does include ARM-based configurations, then prices could start as low as $899.99, the entry-level pricing for the base Surface Pro X configuration. But if Microsoft decides to ignore that the Arm-based Surface Pro X was cheaper than the Surface Pro 8, it could be significantly more expensive. The base model Surface Pro 8 retailed for $1,099, a whopping $250 more than the equivalent Surface Pro 7. It’s also worth remembering that Microsoft doesn’t typically include Type Covers with its Surface Pro products, either, so expect to add an additional $129.99 to your basket should prices remain the same for the Surface Pro 9 compatible covers.

The Surface Laptop 5 could get minor generational upgrades

The Surface Laptop 5 could make an appearance at the Microsoft event, given it’s due for a refresh with the Surface Laptop 4 having hit the market back in April 2021. We use “refresh” generously here, as, like the Surface Pro 9, we’re not actually anticipating any major changes beyond generational updates.

“Sage green” is rumored to be a new color option available for the Surface Laptop 5

WinFuture reported on some information allegedly supplied by retailers who claim 13-inch and 15-inch versions of the Surface Laptop 5 will be available, containing a choice of Core i5-1235U and Core i7-1255U processors. Both the battery and overall design are apparently unchanged from the previous Surface Laptop generation, though a new green color option could add some fresh variety to the existing black, blue, silver, and pink offerings currently available.

Like the Surface Laptop 4, SSD storage probably won’t be increased from the 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB options currently offered, and memory will likely still be available in either 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB configurations; however, we could see LPDDR4x updated to the new faster LPDDR5x standard.

The Surface Laptop Go angled slightly to the left.

The Surface Laptop 5 is likely to look near identical to its predecessor, the Surface Laptop 4.
Photo by Tom Warren / The Verge

If you’re hoping for an AMD-powered model, then you’re likely out of luck. There have been no mentions of such a configuration across any FCC filing or reputable leak for this generation, suggesting that Microsoft might be dropping Ryzen CPUs for this generation of Surface Laptops altogether. Regardless of what processors are available, it’s highly unlikely the Surface Laptop 5 will be equipped with a dedicated GPU, but Intel’s integrated Xe graphics should be more than capable for most everyday tasks.

A few updates that we’d like to see would be an improved webcam, boosting the current 720p camera to a full HD 1080p resolution to be more in line with rival laptop offers like the M2-powered MacBook Air. Boosting the current 60Hz display to 120Hz would also be a nice upgrade, and it’s not too farfetched an idea given that both the Surface Pro 8 and Surface Laptop Studio already rock a 120Hz PixelSense Flow display. At least one website seemingly confirms that both of these updates will, in fact, make an appearance (and leaks what appears to be the entire spec sheet for the laptop), but given that’s the only thing posted on the site… well, better to not get our expectations too high.

Reports suggest the Surface Laptop 5 could be more affordable than previous-gen models

Pricing leaks for the US market have been non-existent, but we could be getting some good news from overseas. WinFuture’s retail sources claim that the Surface Laptop 5 pricing in Europe will start from €1,200 for the base 13.5-inch model (down from €1,499 on the equivalent Surface Laptop 4), with the larger 15-inch model starting from €1,500 (down from €1,999). For context, US pricing for the base Surface Laptop 4 was $899 for the base 13.5-inch model and $1,299 for the 15-inch model, respectively, so there’s a chance we could see prices drop to around $799 and $1,199 for each sizing configuration of the Surface Laptop 5. There’s no guarantee that the latest model will be more affordable than its predecessor, but Microsoft does have some catching up to do if it wants to remain competitive with Apple’s MacBook Air pricing.

Are we finally getting the Surface Studio 3?

One of the most highly anticipated products we’re expecting to see is the Studio Surface 3, an all-in-one desktop computer designed for creative professionals. An FCC document from Microsoft describes an “All-in-one Desktop Computer” that is speculated to be a new Surface device, and leaks of the updated Surface Keyboard and Surface Pen earlier this year heavily suggest that Microsoft is preparing to announce the Surface Studio 3 later this month.

Microsoft Surface Studio 3 being tested

Is that a Surface Studio 2? Nope. Apparently, the upcoming third-generation Surface Studio is just rocking a very similar look.
Image: FCC

It is about time we got a new Surface Studio desktop, as the last iteration we saw of this product line was the Surface Studio 2, released back in October 2018. Rocking a near-identical appearance to the first Surface Studio desktop, the second-generation model garnered some criticism for its high price tag (starting from $3,499) and outdated CPU and GPU. An FCC report containing a test image of what appears to be the upcoming AIO computer also suggests that the Surface Studio 3 will still have a near-identical design to its predecessor, so if you were hoping for a fresh new look, you might be out of luck.

But worse, rumors suggest Microsoft could be maintaining a very annoying trend with the Studio and once again put older chips in its very expensive brand-new product. Zac Bowden, senior editor at Windows Central, reported that the upcoming Surface Studio 3 will be equipped with an Intel Core i7-11370H CPU, despite Intel’s 13th Gen processors being set to release later this month. But on the bright side, it could also have an Nvidia RTX 3060 GPU, which isn’t the most powerful GPU in Nvidia’s lineup but is at least a current one. Bowden also claims the Surface Studio 3 will actually be dubbed the “Surface Studio 2 Plus” and feature three USB-C ports and a 60Hz display. WinFuture additionally reports that the Surface Studio 3 will be available in a single configuration, equipped with 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD.

But we’ll have to see how many of these rumors and leaks hold up when Microsoft shows off the new products on October 12th.

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