On Oct. 2, Microsoft will try to steal the spotlight from Apple and Amazon, and the zillion products they collectively announced in September — and get ahead of whatever Google has planned for its upcoming event on Oct. 9 (hint: it’s the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL).
According to the latest industry rumors, Microsoft intends to use its October event to show off the next version of its Surface portfolio, which could include new or updated hardware, software and services. But given the breadth of Microsoft’s business, the unpredictability of the Surface line and the fact that Microsoft hasn’t announced anything officially, we still don’t know exactly what we’re in for.
Microsoft has an uneven track record when it comes to the Surface line, varying between periods of radical experimentation (e.g., the original Surface Pro, the Surface Studio PC) and modest, incremental upgrades (e.g., the 2017 Surface Pro). The company has often said it uses the Surface portfolio to explore new product categories, rather than stoke competition with partners like Acer and Lenovo in existing categories. But that doesn’t always bear out in practice (Exhibit A: the Surface Laptop — a very fine though wholly undifferentiated 13-inch laptop).
Still, there are several 2017-era products in the lineup, including the Surface Laptop and Surface Pro, that are due for an update. And then there’s also a handful of mysterious code-named Microsoft products — like the rumored dual-screen Andromeda device — that could always show up.
Below, we’ve collected the most interesting news and rumors that’re making the rounds, and we’ll continue to update this article as we count down the days to Microsoft’s Oct. 2 event.
Rumor: New Surface stuff coming in October
The one thing we know for sure is that Microsoft will hold an event at 4 p.m. ET on Oct. 2 in New York. Presumably, it’ll feature new Surface hardware — though the official invitation provided little information beyond the time, date and venue.
The timing of previous product introductions suggests we’re due for a new Surface Pro. The Surface Pro 2 was announced in September 2013 and shipped in October, and the Surface Pro 4 was announced and released in October 2015. But Microsoft is less faithful to the annual calendar than, say, Apple, and reading the tea leaves here may be of limited value.
Rumor: A modest makeover for the Surface Laptop 2
Based on the latest leaks, we’re likely to see a revamped Surface Laptop. ZDNet‘s Mary Jo Foley and others have reported that Microsoft has given the laptop a modest refresh and will offer it in some new colors, including black. But most of the updates will be internal: It’ll apparently step up to eighth-generation Intel Core processors, LPDDR4 RAM and some bigger SSD storage options. Despite this, Microsoft may call it the Surface Laptop 2.
MySmartPrice has posted information about what it says is a black version of the Surface Laptop 2 that looks very similar to the first version introduced last year. Aside from some new color options, the Surface Laptop’s design will remain largely unchanged with the same 13.5-inch PixelSense display, aluminum case and fabric-covered keyboard. There’ll likely be a similar collection of ports and connections: Mini DisplayPort, 3.5mm headphone, and, yes, Surface Connect and USB 3.0 Type-A.
In 2018, the lack of a USB-C port is a black eye for a laptop, but according to ZDNet, Microsoft intends to stick with its proprietary Surface Connector. That doesn’t rule out the possible addition of USB-C, however, and Microsoft did add one to the Surface Book 2 last year. So, there’s hope.
Rumor: LTE comes to the Surface Go
Thurott.com reports that Microsoft will unveil a new version of the Surface Go that supports LTE cellular connectivity. The Surface Go, a more compact edition of the Surface Pro, starts at $400 in the US but comes without the requisite keyboard cover (which adds at least $99 to the price) and Surface Pen stylus (another $99). We’ll be curious to see how much the LTE modem tacks on to the base price.
Rumor: A major redesign for the Surface Pro coming… next year
It’s possible that the Surface Pro, which got a modest makeover in June 2017, could get another incremental spec bump (i.e., new Intel CPUs) at this October event. But according to ZDNet, Microsoft is busy working on a ‘heavily redesigned’ Surface Pro, code-named ‘Carmel,’ that won’t see the light of day until mid-2019.
Other products in Microsoft’s pipeline that could show up on Oct. 2:
- Surface Studio: the 2016-era Studio desktop PC is long overdue for an update. And according to MySmartPrice, it may get Microsoft’s signature mini upgrade: Intel eighth-gen processors and some new Nvidia GPU options.
- Surface Book: Microsoft just unveiled the Surface Book 2 in November, making it new enough to have come out of the gate with Intel’s latest eighth-gen Core series processors. So, probably no new updates for the Surface Book until late 2018 or early 2019.
- The mysterious Andromeda device: The rumors have been all over the place on Microsoft’s secret folding dual-screen handheld. First, we heard it might come in 2018. Then, we heard it might not come at all. Most recently, Thurott.com reported that the project isn’t dead and that Microsoft is retooling it for late 2019.
- And from the non-Surface rumor mill: the next Xbox, code-name Scarlett, is due in 2020, and a new HoloLens VR system may arrive next year.