NEW YORK — Microsoft just unveiled the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 at a swanky press event in Manhattan. Check out our live recap of the event below.
Microsoft surprised just about everyone last year when it unveiled the Surface, the first computer the software giant has ever made. While it looks just like a typical Windows 8 tablet at first glance, the Surface transforms into a fully-functioning laptop with one of its keyboard cases.
But for all of its hype, Microsoft’s first Surface was a disaster, thanks to an immature operating system in Windows RT and a glaring lack of apps. The Surface Pro, a slightly thicker and heavier device, fared better thanks to its beefier hardware and support for all existing Windows software.
That’s it for now folks, check back later for hands-on coverage and interviews.
“We think these products make peoples lives better,” Panay said. We’ll see!
Microsoft apparently has some special guests hiding behind a curtain. Awkward.
“Surface RT remains a great product for people to purchase,” Panay said. Surface RT will now run for $349 and include Windows 8.1.
With a better app ecosystem, this could be a decent deal for students.
Pre-orders for the new Surface devices star at 8 am EST tomorrow. They’ll be available on October 22. Surface Pro 2 will cost $899.
“We’re proud of what we’re bringing you today … we know that when you pick up these devices, they will feel great,” Panay said.
Panay reminds me a bit of Don from The Newsroom (trying not to hold that against him).
The Surface Remix device seems like smarter version of electronic music devices currently on the market. It can detect pressure, so you can create varying degrees of drum beats, for example.
On 10/22, Microsoft will launch the Surface remix project. It’s a cover that lets you remix your favorite music and share it with the world.
What else can MS do with the Touch Cover’s sensors? We’re watching a well-produced video showing some of the Surface designer’s considering multiple options.
Both the Touch Cover 2 and Type Cover 2 will work on the original Surface devices.
“You can’t miss a key, you physically cannot miss one,” Panay said about the Touch Cover 2. It’ll have better predictive typing than the original.
Panay shows off Touch Cover 2, which is 2mm thick and backlit. It also has 1,092 sensors for touch sensitivity, compared to just 80 on the first.
Surface 2 will cost $449, undercutting the iPad by $50.
Surface 2 owners get 200GB of SkyDrive storage for free.
Panay had a bit of fun with Microsoft reporter Mary Jo Foley, implying that the new security features would be a great way to prevent people from leaking info to reporters like her.
Microsoft considered showing a few ways to abuse the Surface 2 on stage, but Panay says they were a bit unsafe for the audience (sure). Now he’s showing off security measures in case someone steals your device, or if you leave it somewhere by accident.
Panay is paying plenty of attention to the Surface 2′s front camera. It can dynamically adjust the scene to deal with low light and other issues.
Surface 2 buyers will get free international Skype calling and free Wi-Fi for a year.
Oh, and about that 100,000 Windows Store number? Microsoft announced that in July.
Big takeaways so far: Better battery life, faster processors. Those are big upgrades, but not sure if they’re enough to get people excited fr these devices.
Surface 2 is powered by Tegra 4, it has 72 graphics cores compared to around 12 with the original Surface. They’re playing Halo Spartan Assault now, and it’s running pretty smoothly.
You’ll get the full Office suite with Surface 2, including Outlook. The original Surface only had a few key Office apps.
Panay says there are 100,000 apps in the Windows Store right now. It launched with just 10,000 last year.
Surface 2 is lighter and thinner, and it also has 25% better battery life. It’s also launching with Windows 8.1.
Panay holding the Surface 2.
Surface 2 is faster all across the board, Panay says, and it include a full 1080p display. (A big improvement over the 720p-ish display from the first.)
“Every single change brings this product up to be everything you need.”
Now Panay is gearing up to show off the Surface 2. “It’s not subtle, it’s the rebound,” he said.
“We went out to create a product where people can buy and get away from just consumption, get away from either their iPad or tablet … be more productive… We wanted to give them that chance … We had a vision in the first generation to do that.”
The Type Cover 2 is also backlit, so there’s that.
“We want you to be faster, we want you to be better, the keyswitch on this is unbelievably innovative,” Panay says, regarding the Type Cover 2. They were able to shave off 1mm in size, so it’s almost as thin as the original Touch Cover. It’s also silent.
Huzzah, a new Type Cover! The Type Cover 2 has multiple colors, just like the past Touch Covers, but it has the wonderful clicky keys from the original Type Cover.
Panay shows off how the Surface Pro 2 can deal with massive 6K video files from the Red Dragon camera. That’s sort of crazy!
There’s also a new Surface Docking station, which effectively lets the Surface step into desktop territory. It has multiple USB ports, ethernet, and can drive a huge 3840 x 2160 display.
Panay also shows off the new power cover, which has a built-in battery to give you 2.5x the battery life than the original Surface Pro.
Surface Pro 2 has new Intel Haswell chips, which means better battery life with increased performance.
Panay says MS has explored many ways to increase the battery life. It’s a 75% improvement to battery life.
“The point of the product is to work fast, the need of the product is to work all the time,” he said.
Rejoice! The kickstand can now balance itself on your lap.
Panay holding the Surface Pro 2.
Panay says the screen is 50 percent more color accurate. Putting the “professional” in Surface Pro.
Panay shows off the Surface Pro 2, from my distance it doesn’t look very different from the first one. “Reinventing the wheel is not the goal, making it better is,” he says.
Surface product head Panos Panay steps out (to an abrupt start). He says we’ll see two of the most powerful tablets ever made with the Surface Pro 2.
As in, the biggest problem with the Surface wasn’t the Surface at all.
My biggest worry is that the next Surface will once again be limited by a small Windows 8 app ecosystem. Not much has changed since last year, at least from what I’ve seen.
We’re getting close to the event’s start. What are you looking forward to in the next Surface? According to rumors, there will be multiple ways to lock in the kickstand (but I certainly hope there’s more to it than that).
I’m very interested in what Microsoft’s learned from the failures of the original Surface. What are we expecting?
These events are always a strange mix of swank, tech, and awkward geeks.
Finally seated and waiting for the event to begin. Things are moving smoothly so far!