Microsoft watcher Brad Sams has released a book chronicling the company’s Surface brand: Beneath a Surface. While you’ll want to read all 26 chapters to get the juicy details, the last one includes Microsoft’s hardware roadmap for 2019, and even a part of 2020 — spanning various Surface products and even a little Xbox.
Roadmaps change. Deadlines get pushed back. Products are killed. Almost all these devices are a year or more from release, so nothing here is set in stone — as Sams told me, “This is a roadmap, not a perfect launch schedule.” That said, we’ve heard some of this from other sources, and Sams has gotten plenty of scoops throughout his career, so these tidbits are worth poring over.
Here’s a quick rundown of Microsoft’s current Surface lineup plans:
- Spring 2019: A new type of Surface-branded ambient computing device designed to address “some of the common frustrations of using a smartphone,” but that isn’t itself a smartphone.
- Q4 2019: Surface Pro refresh with USB-C (finally), smaller bezels, rounded corners, and new color options.
- Q4 2019: AMD-based Surface Laptop — Microsoft is exploring using the Picasso architecture.
- Late 2019: Microsoft’s foldable tablet Andromeda could be larger than earlier small form factor prototypes for a pocketable device with dual screens and LTE connectivity.
- Q1 2020: Surface Book update that might include new hinge designs (high-end performance parts may delay availability).
- 2020: A Surface monitor, and the modular design debuted for Surface Hub 2 could make its way to Surface Studio. The idea is to bring simple upgrades to all-in-one PCs, rather than having to replace the whole computer.
Surface aside, Sams notes that Microsoft is also exploring two revisions to the Xbox One S for 2019. The first does not have an optical disk drive and is meant to be “the lowest possible entry price for the Xbox family,” while the other has a disk drive but is meant to be “cost-reduced” in comparison to the initial Xbox One S release. Microsoft also plans to offer a disc-to-digital trade-in program that would let gamers turn their physical games into a digital license for easy download.
I’d be willing to bet that the refreshes are very likely, while the completely new products are still up in the air. So expect a new Surface Pro, a refreshed Surface Book, and a cheap Xbox One S. As for the new ambient computing device, Andromeda foldable tablet, and modular PC — those can still go either way.