Copilot+PC – Fastest, most AI-ready Windows PCs ever built.

Today (20th May 2024), Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella unveiled a new category of PC that features the latest generative AI tools built directly into Windows and powered by the latest generation of AI computing hardware. Microsoft say this is “the most significant change to the Window platform in decades“.

Microsoft said this entirely new class of Windows PC is engineered to unleash the power of distributed AI in conjunction with the latest generation of AI-Powered chip sets from Qualcomm which bring new AI hardware which will power these new AI features which will be “part of” the Windows OS.

Microsoft call this new category ‘Copilot Plus’… which will see the creation of the latest, fastest, most AI-ready Windows PCs ever built. Copilot+ PCs represent a significant advancement in computing, offering powerful performance and pioneering AI capabilities. Equipped with Snapdragon® X Elite and Snapdragon X Plus processors, these PCs are engineered to provide peak processing efficiency and swift response times.

Microsoft have also announced today, their first Copilot+ PCs, in both the new Surface Pro 11 and Surface Laptop 7 – both powered by these new AI Chipsets. They are also working with Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung who will also be bringing their Copilot+ PCs to market.

Here’s the Sizzle Video.

Copilot+PC – Microsoft (c)

As Microsoft took to the stage in front of the world’s tech press, they said that they estimate more than fifty million “AI PCs” will be sold over the next 12 months, given the appetite for devices powered by ChatGPT-style technology.

“…more than 50 million AI PCs will be sold over the next 12 months”

Satya Nadella | Microsoft.

The Copilot+ PC is here

The concept of Copilot+ PC is not merely to offer a handful of AI features. Instead, it is about having a dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU) on a Copilot+ PC that continuously runs multiple language models in the background of Windows 11. These models will monitor all your activities on your PC to provide contextual information whenever you need to prompt Copilot effectively. Microsoft refers to this functionality as Recall, describing it as a “sensor for AI.”

Satya Nadella announcing the Copilot+PC
Satya Nadella announcing the Copilot+PC

As suggested in the sizzle video above, this implies that a Copilot+ PC can retrieve a line from a document you write or reviewed days earlier, remind you of a commitment or action you made in an email last week, or monitor your web browsing to suggest frequently visited websites and services based on your current activity or “intent”. Whilst there are clear privacy concerns, Microsoft claims that Copilot+ becomes an AI superpower when fully operational and respects your privacy at all times – helping you to do more.

Constant monitoring will be at the heart of a Copilot+ PC, but Microsoft say that it’s substantial AI computing power can do much much more. For example, there will be many creative tools that leverage AI, ranging from Photoshop’s generative AI fill to Microsoft’s AI image generation, to AI video and voice effects in meetings. With a Copilot+ PC, these functions are executed locally on the device – saving time, reducing the need to rely in cloud services and reducing CPU workload and power consumption.

Microsoft have said that users will always be in control and will have the option to disable the always-on AI tracking and to be able to review and delete these AI snapshots individually.

To be classed as Copilot+ status, PCs must be able to deliver at least 40 Tera Operations Per Second (TOPS) of AI processing power from the Neural Processing Unit (NPU). This represents a significant increase from previous offerings, such as Intel’s Meteor Lake, which provided only 10 TOPS from the NPU.

Under the Hood of a Copilot + PC

So, what is powering these new Copilot+ PCs? Despite Microsoft announcing the Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 for business earlier this year, the new Copilot+ PCs are not powered Intel or AMD chips.

“Over the past year, we have seen an incredible pace of innovation of AI in the cloud with Copilot allowing us to do things that we never dreamed possible…..

Now, we begin a new chapter with AI innovation on the device…..

We have completely reimagined the entirety of the PC, from silicon to the operating system, the application layer to the cloud, with AI at the center, marking the most significant change to the Window platform in decades”

Microsoft (May 2024)

Instead, the initial series exclusively features the Snapdragon X Elite or Snapdragon X Plus chips, each boasting more than 40 TOPS of AI power. According to Qualcomm, these chips provide over four times the AI power of their competitors‘ chips and have more than enough power to run the latest AI infused games.

The Copilot+PC also include the dedicated button to prompt the Copilot AI assistant at any time.

Security is also AI Powered

Microsoft focussed heavily on Security. As with the current ARM powered devices such as the Surface Pro X and Surface Pro 9 5G, every Copilot+ PC comes secured out of the box.

The Microsoft Pluton Security processor (which goes way beyond TPM) is activated by default on all Copilot+ PCs, and they are introducing several new features, updates, and defaults in Windows 11 24H2 that will simplify, yet enhance user security. Additionally, Microsoft are integrated additional personalised privacy controls to safeguard personal and sensitive data.


Microsoft’s vision is to ensure this new AI standards for PCs will enable the next generation of AI development which is timely given their annual Build Conference runs this week in which they will be driving new development capability to develops eager to ride the AI gravy train for Windows system and application development.

As the primary investor in OpenAI, the creators of ChatGPT, Microsoft also confirmed that the newly announced GPT-4o model, which powers the chatbot, will also be integrated into Copilot+ PCs “soon”. GPT-4o is currently available in preview in Azure AI.

Microsoft Surface – Are you ready for what m”ai” be next?

Next week is Microsoft Build, and the day before (that’s Monday 20th May), Microsoft is set to host a significant event in-person in Seattle about the the future and of Windows, Surface and Copilot.

The event (which is not being live streamed unfortunatley) takes place at 17:00 UK Time (10:00am Pacific Time) and will showcase (I hope filled with the famous Microsoft sizzle videos) the next wave of innovation for Surface, Windows and Copilot powered by new AI powered chipsets…

As usual Microsoft has not disclosed specific details about what is being announced, but there have been many “suggestive” leaks, predications and teases about what is coming. What we do know is that this will be a big and “special” announcement.

This year, Microsoft have already launched the first generation of new AI PC with the release of the Surface Pro 10 and The Surface Laptop 6 which were built on the new Intel AI Boost technology – which you can read more about here.

So what is being announced?

We know this is a pretty big annoucement and we do know that this is the year of AI and the year of the AI PC, so we can expect some pretty exciting annoucements. Despite the various leaks, we wont know until monday what is actually coming, but we do know that Microsoft’s previous product updates were only around the Intel based devices and their ARM powered devices haven’t yet received an update.

Windows Insiders will be well aware of the all the AI innovating coming to the next generation of Windows 11 so we can expect some new AI wow to be announced for Windows 11 as Microsoft gear up for the 24H2 update coming later this year.

Next Generation of Windows and Surface (and Copilot)

Given the new Qualcomm chipsets such as the Snapdragon Elite X, it would make sense for this to feature in the announcements. These new chipsets (which I discussed here) provide huge NPU capabilities which are needed to process AI workloads efficiently without sloooooooowing down the device so it will be exciting to see if these feature in the future of Surface and Windows!

Will Copilot work “locally/Offline?

What? Well today, all the AI and Copilot experiences we have seen with Windows 11 (and Microsoft 365 Copilot) take place in the cloud, but I also wonder if Microsoft will discuss their plans and advancements around local/on-device Generative AI experiences. With the newer AI Boost PCs from Intel, what is now available with Qualcomm and what Microsoft have in their arsenal with Copilot and OpenAI, it will be interesting to see what Microsoft can tell us about how they could de-couple the AI experiences, providing the ability to run local LLMs “on chip”. This of course is as much about the software (Windows OS) as it is the hardware that powers it.

What about Windows 365?

I hope so – since Windows 365 is very much part of the Windows story and I’m hoping we will hear some updates about what is coming to Windows 365. We have seen huge performance and boot time increases this year, new innovation with Windows 365 Boot and Windows 365 Switch (i have covered this in another blog) so be great to see what is next for Windows 365. There were also many things annouced over the past 12 months such as offline mode that haven’t yet made it to market – could this be finally coming?

Introducing the new Surface IT Toolkit

The new Surface IT Toolkit which was officially released on April 25th 2024, promises to be a significant tool to help IT managing and optimise their coporate fleet of Surface devices.

We are excited to announce the Surface IT Toolkit, a modern desktop application that compiles essential commercial tools and streamlines the Surface device management experience for IT admins – all in a single application.

Microsoft.

Replacing an older mixture of admin tools, the refresh and centralising of these essential tools into a one application should simplify the deployment and management process, addressing the common challenge of using disparate tools across various locations and versions. This should greatly enhance efficiency and ease of use for IT admins.

What is in the Surface IT Toolkit?

The Surface Tool kit contains a number of new and updated apps. These are:

  • Data Eraser – Which is a NIST [Special Publication 800-88 Revision 1 NVM Express] compliant data erasure tool that also includes the ability to create certificates of sanitization for compliance and auditing. This is beneficial when repurposing, recycling, or retiring a device to guarantee that no sensitive data is left on it.
  • UEFI Configurator – enables IT to implement Surface Enterprise Management Mode (SEMM) UEFI configurations on Surface devices and peripherals such as Surface docks and other accessories. The UEFI configurator allows IT to efficiently and consistently manage and disable components at the firmware level. This enhances security and compliance by safeguarding against unauthorized modifications to device settings. For example it could be used to prevent the camera being used to comply with privacy in schools, or block USB ports being used to connect to external disks for data compliance.
  • Recovery Tool – This feature enables a full device reset, reverting it to its factory state for troubleshooting and re-building purposes. It also manages previously downloaded factory images for reuse, helping to resolve common issues and restore the device’s original performance. The latest update provides a new guided process and no longer requires the serial number to be entered. It also includes ability to build from new or build from an existing image.
  • Tool Library – The updated Tool Library houses the most recent versions of supplementary tools and installers for deployment to end users, offering IT descriptions of their functions and links to the most up-to-date documentation. This tools here include the Surface Asset Tag Tool, Surface Diagnostic Toolkit for Business, Surface Brightness Control Tool, among others.

Video: Install and using the Surface IT Toolkit

Here’s little video that shows the relevant webpages, installing the toolkit and first run experience and tools available.

Usng the Surface Tool Kit.

For more information from Microsoft on this – use the following link

How do I get the Surface IT Toolkit?

You can grab the IT Toolkit from Microsoft > here <.

Pavan Davuluri now in charge of Windows and Surface.

Surface Under One Roof

Following Panos Panay’s competitor move to Amazon last year, Microsoft split up the Windows and Surface management structure with Pavan Davuluri looking after the Surface division and Mikhail Parakhin leading a new team that looked after Windows and web experiences.

As of this week, these divisions have again been consolidated, like they were under Panos, with both Windows and Surface being run by Pavan Davuluri. Pavan has been with Microsoft for more than twenty-three years and was a huge driver behind the recent custom-designed Surface processors (SQ) developed in collaboration with Qualcomm.

According to a memo obtained by The Verge, Microsoft says merging the two teams will “enable us to take a holistic approach to building silicon, systems, experiences, and devices that span Windows client and cloud for this AI era.”

Pavan Davuluri – Microsoft Surface and Windows Chief 2024

Personally, I think its great to see the reunion of Windows and Surface teams under Pavan which sits within Microsoft’s Engineering and Devices organisation, headed by Rajesh Jha.

This move also comes after Microsoft’s appointment of DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman as CEO of a new dedicated AI division within Microsoft which has presumably prompted a re-evaluation of their team structures as Microsoft look forward to an FY25 fueled by new advances in Copilot, big updates in Windows and Microsoft’s new AI-PCs.

Reflection

This move is welcomed by Windows enthusiasts, as it promises increased collaboration and cohesion between Microsoft’s hardware and software endeavours and just makes sense to see development of the OS that powers Surface (and of course the other OEMs) being overseen by the same person.

Microsoft Surface Go 4 Review

Surface Go 4 Blog Cover Page

Whilst there is nothing new or standout about the Surface Go 4, it is the latest version of Microsoft’s small 10-inch tablet which is ideal for use at home, as a companion device, when travelling or when away, Surface Go is also extremely popular in education, Heathcare, front-line and field operations, retail and in call/contact centres. Surface Go 4 ships with Windows 11.

Being a huge fan of the Surface Family and being a fan of the Surface Go 2 LTE and Surface Go 3 for traveling and working on the go, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the Surface Go 4 and put it through the paces to see how much compared to the previous version.

Introducing the Surface Go 4

The Surface Go 4 is looks very much the same when compared to its predecessor, the Surface Go 3 – Infact, the design hasn’t really changed since the original Surface Go. It measures 245 x 175 x 8.3mm and weighs just 529grams. It has a 10.5inch, 1,920 x 1,080 IPS screen with high quality, solid magnesium body, complete with “any angle” kickstand, single USB-C port, Surface Connect Port and headphone jack port and optional Surface Pen and Type Cover Keyboard. You can find the full spec here:

Surface Go 3 vs Surface Go 4

Being the same overall size and dimensions, the great thing if you are upgrading from a previous generation Surface Go is that it is fully compatible with the any Surface Go accessories such as keyboards or cases you may have. This iteration does get an upgraded chipset and therefore performance lift over the 2021/22 version and is still built with high-quality magnesium alloy body with a premium finish making it feel like a premium device – which Surface is. I do wish, fours on however, that Microsoft would have reduced the oversized black screen bezels a little as it does look a little dated compared to other tablets.

Surface Go is used a lot in education and with frontline workers. This is one of the reasons for the larger screen bezels. This makes it much easier to hold without accidently touching the screen.

Signature Look and Feel

As you expect with Surface 2-in-1 devices, Surface Go 4 gives you the familiar kickstand which is built into the back of the device and can be easily folded out to various angles making it extremely versatile as a tablet or a laptop with the optional (and not included) keyboard. The kick stand is smooth in operation and very sturdy. 

Surface Kick Stand

On the underside of the kickstand, you can find a MicroSD card slot. On the sides of the device, you will find the familiar Surface Connect port, a headphone jack and a USB C 3.1 port which can also be used for charging the device as well as connecting to a range of peripherals, docks or displays.

Camera, Video and Windows Hello®️

You get two cameras. At the back of device, there is an 8-megapixel camera which is good medium range camera for a rear camera on a laptop. At the front you get a 5-megapixel webcam which performs really well in various light settings on video calls and when recording in apps like PowerPoint and Clip Champ. Unlike the Surface Laptop Go, you do also get the additional sensors for Windows Hello and light adjustment and as always Windows Hello works incredibly fast.

Repairability and Sustainability

Microsoft have continued to improve on the repairability and sustainability of their devices and supply chain. Surface Go 4 is more repairable than ever, with the display, battery and back cover, kickstand, motherboard, microSDXC card reader, type cover connector, front, rear and Windows Hello camera, and speakers all being replaceable.

Screen

Surface Go 4 has the same 10.5-inch 10-point multi-touch, PixelSense display as its predecessor and has an aspect ratio of 3:2. Microsoft consistently uses this aspect, and it remains the perfect ratio for office or schoolwork.

Screen resolution supports 1920 x 1280 pixels, meaning you get a Full HD resolution on a 10.5-inch screen which makes it look super sharp and clear. The screen is bright, and colours are vibrant, and you also get great viewing angles. Gorilla Glass 3 also protects the screen. Touch is accurate and responsive as always.

For a late 2023 device, it's a shame that Microsoft didn't upgrade to a 120Hz panel as they have in the latest Pro and Laptop range. I would have also liked to have seen anti-glare screen options to help in outdoor or bright conditions.

Audio and Sound

Yoi get stereo sound with speakers located on the left and right of the display. Whilst sound quality is not studio level like you get on the Surface Laptop Studio, it is more than good enough for calls and watching videos when away or watching in bed. making it a great all-rounder and fine if you want to use it as an entertainment device.

Power and Performance

Microsoft Surface Go 4 is powered by an Intel N200 processor and comes with 8GB of RAM as a standard. This an improvement over the previous models which started at 4GB RAM which was simply not enough in my experience. Storage starts at 64GB SSD storage and provide options of 128GB and 256GB too. Strangely there is no LTE/4/5G version this time round.

According to benchmark reports I have seen, performance of the Surface Go 4 is slightly better than the Surface Go 3 due to the slightly updated chipset and is also more powerful than the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE tablet. It falls short of the Apple iPad 9. which is to be expected.

Performance, like many things is subjective though. The Surface Go 4 (I have been using the 8GB/256GB) version which was more than sufficient for multi-tasking office apps and personal social media and video streaming apps.

Usage and Experience

Surface Go 4 is positioned as a work or school device and not designed (unlike a high-end iPad) for video editing or playing video intensive games. That said, for office apps and web applications, I noticed no performance lags at all and the device multi-tasked well. Microsoft’s Office apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote run smoothly and I was able to have many Edge tabs open at the same time with any issues.

Surface is also a great device for watching stuff on YouTube, Netflix, Disney +. This combined with good performance for multitasking with business or school apps, makes Surface Go 4 an affordable, practical, light weight and fully featured 2-in-1 device. I find this great when I travel or work away without having to take two devices.

Type Cover Keyboard

All previous generations of the Microsoft Type Cover for Surface Go are compatible with Surface Go 4 and the design has not changed with version 4. You can of course buy cheaper (non-Microsoft covers) or USB keyboards, but don’t. Microsoft’s Type Cover keyboard is excellent.

In case you are not familiar; Microsoft’s Type Cover keyboard is extremely high quality. It is made of plastic but has a very high-quality finish and a fabric-like surface. It includes a backlight and is magnetically attached to the tablet and protects the display when folded. Due to the slight angle of the keyboard that the magnetic connector creates, it makes it feel much more like a laptop than cheap ‘flat’ keyboard.

Surface Go 4 Type Cover
Surface Go Type Cover Keyboard.

The keyboard is relatively large for a small 10-inch tablet but does not feel small to use. I can easily touch type on this without effort or having to change how I type. The Type Cover is comfortable to use and much better than some of the cheap tablet keyboards I have used in the past.

There is a touchpad under the keyboard, which, while not a big as some laptops, is a good balance of size and usability whilst helping to avoid accidental touches on the touch panel.

The Surface Pen

For me, a touch screen and pen are a non-negotiator when choosing a device for work or home. Once critiqued by Apple saying that “no one would ever need to use a pen with a tablet”, Surface Pen has been a stable companion to the Surface Pro since the first Surface in 2012.

Surface Go 4 supports all previous iterations of Surface Pens (expect the ones that shipped on the first Surface Pro 1 and Surface RT devices) including the Surface Slim Pen and Slim Pen 2. The Surface Pen is very responsive and precise, and it’s fun to take handwritten notes with it. The lates

Whilst optional to buy, Surface Go 4 together with the Surface Pen and writing and graphics apps like OneNote, MS Paint, Designer, Edge, PDF etc, are what make Surface standout. Yes, you can do this on most tablets, but Surface is by far the best (and original) 2-in-1 device in my experience.

With the latest update to Windows 11, there is now also support for inking anywhere you can type in dialogue boxes.

Windows 11 brings Surface to Life

Everyone knows that Windows is not an OS designed for tablet only devices. Windows 8 tried too hard to make Tablet mode work (and was awful) and Windows 10 had various attempts at tablet mode, but Windows 11 has actually (finally) done a half decent job of adapting the OS to work with tablet devices. This includes 2-in-1s like Surface Go 4.

With Windows 11, tablet mode is switched on automatically when the keyboard is disconnected or folded back to use the device in tablet mode.

In tablet mode, the Windows taskbar becomes significantly larger so that it is easier to use with your finger or pen and the customisable on-screen keyboard opens whenever you click/tap in a text field. If have a Surface Pen, then you also get quick access to the Windows Inking features.

Within Windows, some apps are also tailored for use with Tablets, and some even adapt based on the use mode. OneNote is a good example. When using OneNote in tablet mode, the canvas gets simplified and decluttered, making it much easier to use with pen and ink.

Using Surface with Android Apps

While a Windows thing more than a Surface thing, Windows 11 supports the use of many Android apps via the Amazon App Store. To use this, you need to install the Amazon Appstore via the Microsoft Store.

Amazon App Store in Windows 11

You can then install a vast number of apps and games such as angry birds or City Mapper and use them just like any other app. Whilst you don’t get the full library of native Android apps you get in the Play store, there are thousands, and it works seamlessly once installed from the Microsoft Store.

Surface is even better with Windows 365

Windows 365 is Microsoft’s desktop as a service which is delivered as a SaaS service to business/corporate users. It is a dedicated Cloud PC which is provisioned, used, managed, and updated just like a physical PC but runs in the Microsoft Cloud. Windows 365 provides an “instant on” desktop environment than can be accessed securely from any device (or browser) and allows you to pick up where you left off, providing a seamless experience with all your corporate applications and files available wherever you need it. Since Windows 365 is a Cloud Service, access to it is secure, instantly provisioned, upgraded or updated and since it can be used on “any” device avoids the need for hardware upgrades, protects against device loss and theft and removes the data security / leakage risk of having corporate information on physical devices.

So why Surface Go 4 and Windows 365? Well, I have recently got myself a Surface Go 4 for home and family. The kids love using pen and ink and we use a Microsoft 365 Family subscription for personal, school and work stuff.

When I’m away from the office or traveling with my family, I often need to access work-related files and applications. Windows 365 allows me to securely multitask on our shared device without having to install and download apps, set up complicated VPN services, or compromise company security or confidentiality by using a personal device for work. With Windows 365, I can use my personal device as a work device and switch back seamlessly as needed. Plus, if my kids want to play with Designer or watch YouTube, I can pause what I’m doing and resume later without worrying that they will mess up any of my work.

I’ve written other posts on Windows 365 before, and for more information on Windows 365 you can check Microsoft’s official sites here.

My Conclusion

Starting at £549 in the UK (pen and keyboard separate), Microsoft Surface Go 4 is a well priced, versitile allrounder that is great for home, work, school or a combination of all (maybe combined with Windows 365).

Surface Go continues to be a great choice if you need/want a “proper” Windows based PC type device rather than “just a tablet”. This is not a device for intense gamers or graphic designers, but for everything else, it’s a great device that is well built, offers high quality, is super repairable and includes full multipoint touch, pen support and a full and versitle type cover ketboard.

The only dissapointment was battery life. Windows devices in my experience just dont have the power efficienicies that Apple iPads offer.

If you have a Surface Go 3, I would not reccommend rushing out and upgrading (unless you have an etry level one with 4GB RAM). If you do not need a Windows device or just want a tablet to watch films on and browse social media, then Surface Go may be wasted on you.

Surface Go is also a great second device. If you have a desktop for work or home (or a chunky, heavy laptop), Surface Go is a grwat choice as a flexible second device that can also be used for work with or without Windows 365 (see above).

Surface devices will now get firmware updates for six years

Microsoft have announced (quietly) that all Surface devices shipped from 2021 onwards will now receive firmware updates for six years (two years more than initially committed).

The documentation states that all Surface devices shipped after 1st January 2021, will receive six years of firmware updates. Devices that shipped prior to this date will continue to receive update for four years.

What Surface devices will receive six years of updates?

Any Surface device shipped after Jan 1st 2021, the following devices will now benefit from the extended firmware support cycles.

  • Surface Pro 7+ onwards.
  • Surface Go 3 onwards.
  • Surface Laptop 4 onwards.
  • Surface Laptop Studio 1 onwards.
  • Surface Studio 2+ onwards.

What about older Surface Devices?

In their documentation, Microsoft states they reserve the right to extend the firmware support cycle for any device where necessary. For example, Microsoft have already extended the firmware update life cycle with the Surface Studio 2 despite this shipping in 2018. This already has a six support file until later this year (2024).

It is worth noting that firmware updates are different to the Windows Operating System updates that devices receive through Windows Updates. Firmware updates are software updates that are applied to the hardware components of a device, such as a motherboard, a hard drive, or a graphics card. Firmware updates can improve the performance, stability, security, or compatibility of the device. Firmware updates are usually provided by the device manufacturer and can be downloaded from their website or through Windows Update.

Firmware updates are sometimes needed to fix driver compatibility issues, known bugs or security vunerabilities and may also be required (or recommended) for major OS upgrades, but are not always necessary. As such there is no issue continuing to use devices that are beyond the firmware lifecycle end date.

What do firmware updates do?

Firmware updates are software updates that are applied to the hardware components of a device, such as a motherboard, a hard drive, or a graphics card. Firmware updates can improve the performance, stability, security, or compatibility of the device. Firmware updates are usually provided by the device manufacturer (in this case Microsoft) and can be downloaded from their website or are delivered/offered directly via Windows Update.

Firmware updates are sometimes needed to fix driver compatibility issues, known bugs or security vunerabilities and may also be required (or recommended) for major OS upgrades, but are not always necessary. As such there is no issue continuing to use devices that are beyond the firmware lifecycle end date.

Firmware updates are important for Surface devices because as well as fixing bugs or vulnerabilities, they also optimise and “tune” the device’s compatibility with Windows and drivers. Typically a firmware update can improve stability, enhance the battery life and improve/tweak performance of the device, and sometimes they can introduce or activate new Windows features. Therefore, it is beneficial to have firmware updates for your Surface devices as long as possible so this extended support cycle is welcomed.

The Future Of Surface

With the departure of Panos Panay last year, many have questioned what the future will look like for Surface. We know there will be some major updates this year to the Surface Pro and Laptop lines (I’m sure you’ve seen some of the “leaks”) as they continue to press forward with updates to Windows (and the next version) which will see more AI goodness throughout the OS.

This coupled with the longer support lifecycles for their older devices also suggests a commitment to continue to innovate and lead the future vision of the Windows device eco system.

Microsoft September 2023 News: The new and exciting stuff

Microsoft hosted a live Surface and AI event on Thursday 21st September where they announced a lot of new and exciting features and products across its various platforms and services. In this blog post, I have tried to summarise the most notable ones and explain how they might benefit you and your organisation.

Disclaimer (and product plug) - Since this was an AI event in whole, I also want to state that other than some slight tweaks, this blog post was written by Bing Enterprise Chat - Microsoft Designer created the image. The whole thing took less that 10 minutes. 

Copilot: Your AI Assistant at Work and Beyond

Copilot is a new feature that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help you with various tasks, such as drafting emails, summarizing texts, creating images, and more. You can access Copilot from Windows 11, Microsoft 365, Edge, and Bing, and chat with it in natural language. Copilot will understand your intent and provide relevant assistance based on the context and your data.

For example, you can ask Copilot to draft an email for you with a specific tone, or to generate a graphic art based on your description. You can also use Copilot to answer questions, troubleshoot your PC, control your settings, and access recommendations. Copilot is designed to save you time, reduce your cognitive load, and ignite your creativity.

Copilot will be generally available for enterprise customers on November 1st, and for a select group of consumers and small business customers as part of the Early Access Program (EAP). It will initially be limited to three hundred licenses and will cost $30 per user per month.

Windows 11: The Most Powerful and Personal Windows Ever

Windows 11 is the latest (and IMO best) version of the Microsoft’s desktop operating system that powers millions of devices around the world. Windows 11 offers a fresh and modern design, improved performance, and security, and a more personalised and connected experience. They announced the latest update coming next week (Sept 26th). Some of the new features in Windows 11 will include:

  • An updated Start menu that gives you quick access to your apps, documents, and settings.
  • An updated Taskbar that lets you easily switch between multiple instances of each app, hide the time and date, and end tasks with a right-click.
  • A new Dev Home that helps you set up your development environment by downloading apps, packages, or repositories, connecting to your developer accounts and tools, and accessing experimental features in WSL.
  • A new Dev Drive that provides a fast and secure storage volume for developers, with a file system that delivers both performance and security.
  • A new WinGet Configuration that simplifies the setup process for developers by reducing it to a single command.
  • New Gallery in File Explorer that makes it easy to access your photo collection across all your devices.
  • A new Snipping Tool that lets you record your screen with audio and mic support, copy and redact text from a screenshot, and edit your images with Paint.
  • A new Photos app that has new editing capabilities to achieve stylish background blur effects and makes it easier to find specific images backed up in OneDrive.
  • Updated Narrator that uses natural human voices in new languages, and lets you use voice access to log in to your PC and access other areas on the lock screen.
  • Refreshed Notepad app that automatically saves your session state, allowing you to close Notepad without any interrupting dialogs and then pick up where you left off when you return.
  • A new Instant Games feature that lets you play your favorite casual games directly from the Microsoft Store without the need to download and install them on your device.
  • Windows Copilot – Your Copilot for Windows.

Windows 11 also announced general availability of Windows 365 Boot and Windows 365 Switch, which allow you to log into your Windows 365 Cloud PC as the primary Windows experience on the device or easily switch between the Cloud PC and the local desktop. Windows 365 is a cloud PC service that lets you stream a full Windows experience from anywhere on any device and is fully managed from Intune.

This update will start rolling out as a free update on September 26th.

Surface: The Ultimate Devices for Work and Play

Surface is Microsoft’s line of devices that combine innovative design, powerful performance, and versatile functionality. Surface devices are built to work seamlessly with Windows 11 and Microsoft 365, offering the best productivity and creativity tools for work and play. I am a massive fan of Surface

The new / refreshed Surface devices include:

  • Surface Laptop Studio 2: The most powerful Surface ever built, with the latest Intel Core processors, NVIDIA Studio tools for creators, touchscreen display, and flexible design with three unique postures.
  • Surface Laptop Go 3: The lightest and most portable Surface Laptop, with touchscreen display, premium features like an incredible typing experience and a Fingerprint Power Button, and four stylish colours.
  • Surface Go 4: The baby Surface Pro is this time, available only for corporate and not consumer market (why??), the device is the same dimensions as before but is more repairable (the most repairable and sustainable device int he Surface Fleet). It ditches the 4GB RAM option (good) and brings a higher spec entry level processor. Pricing increases too which is a shame as is ditching consumer market. These are great for school kids.
  • Surface Hub 3: The ultimate collaboration device for teams, with a large interactive display that runs the Microsoft Teams Rooms experience. Surface Hub 3 pairs seamlessly with Teams-certified devices and supports Hub on day one. There was also an upgrade announced for Surface Hub 2S customers to upgrade to Surface Hub 3,

The new Surface devices are available for pre-ordering now.

Microsoft 365: The World’s Productivity Cloud

Microsoft 365 is a cloud-based subscription service that offers the best productivity apps for work and life. Microsoft 365 includes apps like Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, Teams, Stream, Loop, Clipchamp, and more.

Microsoft 365 Copilot (which will be available from 1st November) is an add-on service at $30 per user per month and provides in-built AI-powered features and services that help you get more done across all your Office 365 apps and services – with support also coming to Microsoft Designer, Loop and Clipchamp and more.

Some of the new features and services in Microsoft 365 include:

  • Copilot in Outlook, Excel, Word, Loop, OneNote, Stream, and OneDrive: Copilot is integrated into various Microsoft 365 apps to provide AI assistance for different tasks. For example, you can use Copilot in Outlook to draft emails, in Excel to create charts, in Word to summarize documents, in Loop to generate content blocks, in OneNote to take notes, in Stream to transcribe videos, and in OneDrive to find files.
  • Generative Expand, Fill, and Erase in Microsoft Designer: These features let you manipulate images in creative ways, such as expanding the canvas, filling in missing areas, or erasing unwanted objects. Generative Erase is generally available now, and Generative Fill and Expand are coming soon.
  • Copilot Lab: Copilot Lab is a feature that lets you learn how to use Copilot effectively, share your favorite prompts with coworkers, and get inspired by other users. Copilot Lab will be accessible to all Microsoft 365 Copilot users once it’s generally available in November.
  • Mobile Application Management (MAM) for Windows: This feature allows employees to access organisational resources through Microsoft Edge from an unmanaged device, while giving IT the ability to control the conditions under which the resources can be accessed.

Bing and Edge: The Smartest Way to Search and Browse

Bing and Edge are Microsoft’s search engine and web browser that offer a fast, secure, and personalized way to search and browse the web. Bing and Edge use AI to provide relevant information and assistance based on your needs and preferences.

Some of the new features and improvements in Bing and Edge include:

  • DALL-E 3 in Bing Image Creator and Microsoft Designer integration: Bing Image Creator is a feature that lets you create images from text descriptions using AI. Bing Image Creator is now powered by DALL-E 3, which produces more realistic and detailed images. You can also access Bing Image Creator directly from Microsoft Designer for further editing.
  • Content Credentials: Content Credentials is a feature that uses cryptographic methods to add an invisible digital watermark to all AI-generated images in Bing. This helps you verify the origin and authenticity of the images. Content Credentials will be supported in Bing Image Creator, Microsoft Designer, and Paint soon.
  • Bing Chat Enterprise: Bing Chat Enterprise is a feature that lets you chat with Copilot from the Edge mobile app. You can also use multimodal visual search and Image Creator from Bing Chat Enterprise.
  • Copilot in Microsoft Shopping: Copilot in Microsoft Shopping is a feature that helps you find what you’re looking for more quickly. You can ask for information on an item, and Bing will ask additional questions to learn more. Then, Bing will use that information to provide more tailored recommendations. This feature will be available soon on both PC and mobile.
  • Personalised Answers: Personalised Answers is a feature that uses your chat history to inform your results. For example, if you’ve used Bing to track your favorite soccer team, next time you’re planning a trip it can proactively tell you if the team is playing in your destination city. Personalized Answers will begin to roll out soon.

Microsoft Advertising: The Best Way to Reach Your Customers

Microsoft Advertising is a platform that helps businesses connect with their customers across the web. Microsoft Advertising offers various solutions and tools to create effective and engaging ads that reach the right audience at the right time.

Some of the new features and improvements in Microsoft Advertising include:

  • Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform: Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform is a feature that simplifies and enhances every aspect of your experience with the platform. You can use Copilot to create campaigns, get content recommendations, optimize your performance, and more. This feature will be coming soon.
  • Compare & Decide Ads: Compare & Decide Ads are a new type of ads that pull relevant data of various products or services into a succinct table. This helps users easily evaluate different options based on their criteria. Compare & Decide Ads will be available for cars initially and will be brought to closed beta in early 2024.

Conclusion

These are just some of the highlights from the Microsoft September 2023 News. There are many more features and products that we didn’t cover here, but you can find them on the current web page context. I hope you are excited about these new developments, and I would love to hear what you are most excited about.

Microsoft unveils the Surface Hub 3

Microsoft have announced the Surface Hub 3 and along with a way to breathe new life into Surface Hub 2S with an upgrade module for the Surface Hub 2S.

Surface Hub 3 Transforms Meetings and Collaboration

Surface Hub 3 is the latest all-in-one hybrid meeting and collaboration device that combines the best of Microsoft Teams Rooms, Windows, and Surface Hub. It offers a consistent and seamless experience across all meeting spaces, from small huddle rooms to large conference rooms and brings new AI tools to enhance your hybrid meetings and collaboration sessions.

Surface Hub 3

In this blog post, I will explore some of the key features and benefits of Surface Hub 3, and how it compares to its predecessor, the Surface Hub 2S as well as availability, pricing and how to upgrade from Hub 2S to Hub 3.

What is Surface Hub 3?

Surface Hub 3 is a device that combines the functionality of a digital whiteboard, a large touchscreen display, a video conferencing system, and a Windows 10 PC. It is designed to empower teams to work together more effectively, whether they are in the same room or across the globe.

Surface Hub 3 – Video (C) Microsoft.

Like the predecessor, Surface Hub comes in two sizes: fifty inches and eighty-five inches. Both models have a high-resolution, 4K PixelSense display with an anti-glare coating that makes content visible in any lighting condition. They also have two microphone arrays and speaker pairings that deliver clear audio and optimize sound based on device orientation. Additionally, they support active inking with up to two Surface Hub Pens Surface Slim pens, providing twenty points of multitouch for immersive on-device collaboration.

Surface Hub 3 runs on Microsoft Teams Rooms on Windows, which means that it offers a consistent user interface and feature set with other Microsoft Teams Rooms devices. This makes it easy for users to transition from one meeting space to another, without having to learn different systems or adjust settings. Users can also pair Surface Hub 3 with Microsoft Teams Rooms certified peripherals in larger conference rooms, such as external microphones, speakers, cameras, and more.

Surface Hub 3 also supports some unique capabilities that set it apart from other devices. For example, it allows users to physically rotate the device between portrait or landscape mode at any time, to suit their needs and preferences. It also enables users to move the device around the building with a Steelcase Roam Stand and an APC Charge Mobile Battery (both sold separately), offering flexibility and mobility.

Existing Surface Hub 2S customers can also upgrade their existing Surface Hub 2S devices to Surface Hub 3 with the Surface Hub 3 Pack, which includes a new processor cartridge and a software license.

How does Surface Hub 3 improve over Surface Hub 2S?

Surface Hub 3 is an evolution of Surface Hub 2S, which was launched in 2019. While both devices share some similarities, such as the sleek design and the Windows 10 Team edition operating system, Surface Hub 3 offers several improvements over its predecessor.

Here are some of the main differences between Surface Hub 3 and Surface Hub 2S:

  • Performance: Surface Hub 3 has a faster processor and graphics card than Surface Hub 2S, resulting in a smoother and more responsive experience. It also has more memory and storage capacity, allowing it to handle more complex tasks and applications. In short, Microsoft say that Surface Hub 3 has a 60% CPU performance increase, and a 160% GPU graphics performance increase gen-on-gen. This helps its support more inclusive, media rich meetings, higher definition meetings and hardware powered AI features like background noise cancellation and studio video effects.
  • Software: Surface Hub 3 runs on Microsoft Teams Rooms on Windows – offering a true Teams experience whilst still providing leading edge Windows 11 capabilities which means that Surface Hub 3 can access more apps and services from the Microsoft Store, as well as use Windows Hello for biometric authentication. It also means that Surface Hub 3 can benefit from new features and updates that are released for Microsoft Teams Rooms on Windows.
  • Features: Surface Hub 3 also has unique features that are not available on Surface Hub 2S. These include smart rotation, portrait mode, improved mobility options, persistent chat, Teams Front Row layout support, Cloud IntelliFrame (a smart video feed that separates participants into individual boxes), video segmentation (a feature that removes backgrounds and adjusts video sizes), and Copilot in Whiteboard (a feature that helps generate and organize ideas). Surface Hub 3 also works in portrait mode.
Surface Hub 3 with Teams Front Row

Why Surface Hub 3?

Surface Hub 3 is not just another collaboration device. It builds on 8 years of innovation, the power of Microsoft Team, AI, and Windows 11. Surface Hub 3 continues to offer versatile and inclusive solution that can transform huddle rooms, meeting rooms and collaborative spaces. Surface Hub brings:

  • Consistency: Surface Hub 3 brings a consistent experience across all meeting spaces, regardless of the size or configuration of the room. It runs a variant of Teams Rooms on Windows meaning the device can be be used for different purposes in different spaces and in multiple modes – bringing whiteboarding, presenting, hybrid meetings, or for co-creating in open spaces.
  • Simplicity: Surface Hub 3 brings simplified your meeting setup and management since it is powered by Microsoft Teams Rooms on Windows platform. People can easily start or join a meeting with one touch, share content wirelessly, and control the device with voice commands. IT can also manage Surface Hub through the Microsoft Teams admin center and the Microsoft Teams Rooms Pro Management Portal.
  • Engagement: Surface Hub 3 enhances the meeting engagement and participation experience with new AI-powered features that Surface Hub 3, Teams and Copilot bring to life. This makes remote attendees feel more connected and visible, thanks to the Cloud IntelliFrame and video segmentation features. You can also make your brainstorming sessions more productive and creative, thanks to the Copilot in Whiteboard feature.
  • Innovation: With Surface Hub 3, you can unleash your team’s potential and foster a culture of innovation, thanks to the Surface Hub 3’s design and capabilities. You can experiment with different modes of interaction, such as touch, pen, voice, or gesture. You can also explore new ways of working, such as rotating the device, moving it around, or pairing it with other devices.

Upgrade your Surface Hub 2S to Surace Hub 3

Organisations with Surface Hub 2S devices can also upgrade their existing Surface Hub 2S devices to Surface Hub 3 with the Surface Hub 3 Pack, which includes a new processor cartridge and a software license. This brings Microsoft Teams Rooms – including the latest Teams Rooms layouts and management capabilities to existing Surface Hub 2S. It provides a power upgrade with faster performance, improved graphics and added storage and allows for Portrait mode on the Surface Hub 2S 50”.

Availability of Surface Hub 3

Surface Hub 3 is available for preorder now, and it will start shipping in early 2024. There are the same two models to choose from – fifty-inch or eighty-five-inch version.

Pricing for Surface Hub 3

Pricing for Surface Hub 3 is similar to the Hub2S and is listed at (RRP) being

  • Surface Hub 3 85” with 2x Surface Hub Pens and 1x Smart Camera. £24,649.00
  • Surface Hub 3 50” with 1x Surface Hub Pen and 1x) Smart Camera. £ 9,299.00
  • Surface Hub2S 50″ Upgrade Pack to Hub 3: £2749.00

Volume and sector discounts will be available as usual through your Microsoft Surface Hub Reseller.


Surface Hub 3 is the ultimate device for meetings and collaboration. It combines the best of Microsoft Teams Rooms and Surface Hub, offering a consistent and seamless experience across all meeting spaces. It also enables you to leverage AI to enhance hybrid meetings and collaboration sessions.

Surface Laptop Studio Hands-on Review

Surface Laptop Studeio Image

Microsoft describe their Laptop Studio as a “Portable Device with a Seamless Transition Between Laptop and Canvas…. Your Own Portable Studio with a Large Touchscreen & Top Performing Graphics“.

In this hands-on review, I put one of these devices through the paces for two weeks as my daily device, to see how this new form factor device, which blends the best of Surface Studio 2 and Surface Book performed.

Spec Tested: Surface Laptop Studio – 14.4″ Platinum | 11th Gen i7 | 32GB RAM | 1TB SSD

My First Impressions

Being a long-term user/fan/enthusiast of Surface, then the first thing I was presented with when un-boxing the Surface Laptop Studio is how familiar, yet unique and different at the same time it is. Laptop Studio is a natural modern evolution of all the best things that makes a Surface a Surface and they have done a great job putting together their latest flagship devices. Its simply a thing of beauty with grunt and muscle to go along side the good looks.

At first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking it is simply a bigger, slightly chunkier Surface Laptop that has been given the Windows 11 “rounded edges” treatment. But it is not. Then there is the fact there are many similarities not only to Laptop 4 but also to Apple’s latest MacBook Pro range. From the rounded corners, layout of the keyboard and ports and the large trackpad, these are all similar to that found on Apple’s MacBook Pro (after all both have been borrowing design ideas and innovation from each other for years).

Surface Studio Laptop in ‘Laptop Mode’

Microsoft are known for setting the design standard through innovation when it comes to their products. If it wasn’t for Microsoft Surface the 2-in-1 or ink driven UI may never have been born after all!

Laptop Studio is no different so when you look a little closer you notice that’s much more than meets the eye.

Blending the best of Studio and Laptop

Whilst Laptop Studio can be used just like a a normal clam-shell laptop, you can fold down the screen to turn the laptop into a tablet (aka Studio mode) for drawing and sketching.

Surface Laptop Studio in “Studio Mode”

There’s also a half-way house, where by you can simply just pull forward the screen into “Stage Mode” to use it as an angled touch canvas for taking notes, annotating work, playing games and watching films or box sets.

Surface Laptop Studio in ‘Stage Mode’

This is all made possible thanks to what Microsoft is calling a “Dynamic Woven Hinge,” which feels sturdy and makes it easy to flip the screen into its various modes of use.

Who is Laptop Studio designed for?

In all the promotional videos around Laptop Studio, Microsoft showcases digital artists using the screen in its various positions to draw on it in flagship apps like Adobe Creative Studio. They also show it being used flat when docked to a monitor, mouse, and keyboard for a complete hybrid experience of digital note taking and conventional computing.

Laptop Studio is clearly an evolution of what Microsoft had developed with Surface Book. With Laptop Studio, Microsoft have made it easier to change between modes and there’s no need to separate the screen from the base unit, though I did often find some advantages in that since I could separate tablet component and move around leaving the base connected to a monitor and dock.

Surface Slim Pen 2

Ok, some personal advice. Do not buy, test or be given (you never know) a Surface Pro, Book, Studio or Laptop Studio without a Surface Pen. To me, the touch screen and ability to use digital ink is what stands Surface out from the crowd. Inking is it’s thing and with Surface Laptop Studio and Surface Slim Pen 2 – that experience just got even better.

Surface Slim Pen 2, is of course a must-have for graphic designers or just the more artistic users but for me (who’s been using Surface since the days of Surface RT) it’s still a must and I’d say that it’s a necessary extra for anyone buying a Surface.

Surface Pens have always been great with their 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity and inter-changable nibs, but the best thing about Surface Slim Pen 2 that is now has haptic feedback which works in a growing number of apps – from drawing and inking in Whiteboard or OneNote you now get distinct vibrations which mimic the resistance felt when using different types of pencils, pens, markers and highlighters. The haptic feedback makes it feel much more like you are drawing on a real sheet of paper or canvas that a screen and their is remarkable improvement when comparing the canvass feel I was used too on my Surface Book 2.

Left: Original Surface Pen | Middle: Surface Slim Pen | Right: Surface Slim Pen 2

Like I said, Surface Pens are not just for artists. I see the pen as a vital tools for taking notes, marking up documents or making quick edits to Office docs. The pen can also double up as a more natural tool for reviewing, editing and presenting. As an example, in Microsoft Word, you can use the pen to delete sentences by simply crossing them out, in PowerPoint you can simply ink and draw on the slides and with Edge you can write and draw directly on web-pages or use the pen to annotate notes etc. You can also program the pen to launch apps on a click and of course you can use it as a trust PowerPoint clicker in presentations.

Surface Pens are also designed to work with well known third-party programs including the Adobe Creative Suite, Sketchup and many others.

Surface Pen Slim 2 storage and charging

Surface Slim Pens are magnetic and charge wirelessly. On the Laptop Studio the pen is designed to be stored under the front lip on the keyboard area where it magnetically sticks nicely sticks and charges.

Ports and Charging

The Laptop Studio is actually also pretty slim on ports, with just two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C inputs, a headphone jack and Microsoft’s proprietary Surface Connect port for using the included charger. You can, however also charge the device via the USB-C port with a compatible power cable). The latest Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports are ideal for connecting to 4K monitors and for connecting to external files from hard drives.

Keyboards and Touchpad

The Keyboard on the Surface Laptop Studio is probably the best they have ever made, and Microsoft keyboards (even on the Laptop Go) are really good. The keyboard has great depth and travel and is responsive with the keys well spaced. As you’d expect it has the usual back-lighting which can be customised or tuned off and you get all the usual volume and media controls above the function keys.

The haptic touch pad brings another similarity from the MacBook Pro. Haptic touchpads, uses a touch-sensitive pad that vibrates to simulate a click instead of buttons that sit beneath the trackpad. I found the trackpad worked really well, with everything from clicking links and browser tabs in edge to pinching to zoom into webpages or office documents felt responsive and natural. Just like a traditional click-based trackpad, the haptic touchpad responded well to our inputs no matter where on the touchpad I clicked or pinched.

Microsoft provide the ability for you to adjust the intensity of the touchpad rumble. It isn’t a killer feature by any means, but it is a nice upgrade which I hope becomes standard on Surface devices moving forward.

Screen and Multi-Media

The display on the Surface Laptop Studio is simply a thing of beauty. As well as looking modern and sharp, the colours are vibrant, blacks black and detail is crisp and sharp whether you’re working in Office apps, inking or drawing or watching a film or box set on Netflix.

The screen is a 14.4-inch, 2400 x 1600 resolution, 120Hz display with the usual Surface 3:2 standard aspect ratio, which means you can comfortably watch 8K films or National Geographic documentaries on Disney Plus! The 120Hz does wonders for image quality and smoothness since the 120hz refresh rate is double that of most mainstream laptops and non-gaming monitors, which essentially means the display is twice as responsive.

It’s not just gaming and film watching though that benefits from a 120Hz display. I noticed that when scrolling through webpages or word documents or using a digital graphics apps like Microsoft Whiteboard, the display felt much more responsive and smoother that it does/did on my Surface Book 2 which is standard 60Hz display like most mainstream laptops.

Laptop Studio also has an impressively high quality set of quad Dolby Atmos speakers which is far from what you’d expect on a laptop! From watching StarWars films, to playing games and listening to Spotify, the audio was loud, crisp and clean with no distortion or tinny sounds/vibrations at full volume.

In usual day to day Microsoft Teams Calls, audio comes through clearly and colleagues gave no complaints about my own audio when using the built-in dual microphones.

Power & Performance

Microsoft position the Surface Laptop Studio as Microsoft’s most powerful Surface yet, and based on using the device for 2 weeks, I wont argue with that statement!

I’ve been using this device for pretty much everything this past two weeks and it has handled everything I threw at with ease with no slowing down or performance drag. The device I have been using is equipped with an 11th Gen Intel Core i7-11370H processor and 32GB of RAM and was running the GA build of Windows 11.

In the two weeks I had the device – I used it every day and didn’t reboot it once. Most days I had at least 8-10 apps open including Microsoft Teams, PowerPoint, Word, Excel, PowerBI Desktop, Power Automate Desktop, Paint3D, Camtasia and Edge (with far too many tabs open). This was connected to my Surface Dock where it also powered a ultra-wide 4K screen and allowed me to switch seamlessly between the apps without any signs of struggling or slowdown. I also managed to do some graphics rich editing in Camtasia with the other apps running in the back-ground without any effort at all.

I managed to spend an evening (once the kids were in bed) using Laptop Studio as a mini gaming station by pairing my son’s Xbox controller via Bluetooth and using the device in its’ “stage mode”. It was a real pleasure to use and something I could easily get used too.

Battery Life

Given the amount of power in the Surface Laptop Studio, you’d think the battery was going to let it down. It doesn’t.

I spend a day in our London office last week and risked not taking a charger with me. I’m never one to believe the claims made by manufacturers around battery life, but in my “day out”, the Laptop Studio lasted me just over 8hrs 30 mins of usage which was spend mainly in Office apps and Teams video meetings (webcam on), on a wireless internet and with my Poly Voyager Focus 2 Bluetooth headphones connected.

This is felt was pretty impressive when you consider that kept the device in its default 120Hz mode and was connected to Wi-Fi all day too with my web-cam on for a good 2-3 hours.

In my experience, the Laptop Studio’s runtime is just a tad less than on the Surface Laptop 4 and was about the same as the Surface Book 2 (which is nearly 3 years old now). Surface Pro X (which runs ARM) has been my personal best so far consistently giving me over 9 hours of continual use.

Pricing

Ok – so Laptop Studio is hardly an entry level device but pricing depending on what you desire / need isn’t as bad as you might think, but some of the key models and pricing are illustrated below for business.

Model CodePrice (Ex VAT)
i5/16GB RAM/256GB SSDTNX-00004£1,126.90
i7/16GB RAM/512GB SSD/NVIDIA G-FORCE RTX A2000ABR-00004£1,425.42
i7/32GB RAM/1TB SSD/NVIDIA G-FORCE RTX A2000AIC-00004£2,239.31
i7/32GB RAM/2TB SSD/NVIDIA G-FORCE RTX 3050AI5-00004£2,131.43
Sample Surface Laptop Studio Business Pricing [Feb 2022]

Alternatives – of course, the thinner sleeker Surface Laptop 4 or Surface Pro 8 makes for good alternatives for everyday users who don’t need loads of power but still need and good all-rounder device. Personally, I’d always go Pro over Laptop and I don’t think I could live within pen and ink!

Summary

In my opinion, Surface Laptop Studio is the best Surface device Microsoft has ever made.

Suppose I had better back that statement up right!?

Ok – well, it’s has the perfect combination of style, performance and battery whilst still being one of the best looking devices you’ll ever see or use. It’s sleek and flexible 2-in-1 design combined with (optional) Slim 2 Pen make it an especially great choice for graphics, drawing, inking and sketching and the haptic touch-pad and updated keyboard feels great for everyday use. Finally the super sharp 14.4-inch 120Hz display brings both detail, colour and sharpness to every app or use and really shows its self off when used for digital editing, gaming or watching 4K or 8K movies.

Like the Surface Book they are not the cheapest of the range but for that you have the Laptop 4, or Surface Pro, but here is my top 5 reasons to buy one (or get your manager to buy you one).

  • Their Best Ever – The 2-in-1 design makes this the best Surface Microsoft have every made and it is a no-brainer upgrade from the Surface Book
  • Powerful and Sleek – but will still get you through (just) a working day, but supports USB-C charging if you need it,
  • Simply gorgeous and really turns heads
  • Can handle anything and everything you through it without compromise.
  • A true digital canvass – it handles graphics, video editing and drawing apps with a breeze and the Slim Pen 2 turns it into a true digital canvass.


Surface Laptop 4 launches with new work from home accessories for business.

SurfaceLaptop4

Today (Tuesday 13th April 2021), Microsoft officially unveiled the 2021 Surface Laptop 4.

Surface Laptop, in my opinion, has always been the best “looking” Surface device since it was first released back in 2017. Not only that but Microsoft say the Surface Laptop has the highest level of customer satisfaction across all its Surface devices. 

Speeds and Feeds

Let’s cut to the basics, Microsoft claim that Surface Laptop 4 is up to 70% faster, has significantly longer battery life (with up to 19 hours of battery life on the 13.5” AMD variant), updated colours, 11th Gen Intel Chipsets and Dolby Atmos Audio. Retains USB C and USB-A.

Surface Laptop 4

Above all this Surface Laptop and updated/new accessories has been designed for the hybrid worker which seems set to be the default for most post COVID-19.

Oh…new Surface Headphones “for Business” too

Along with the launch of Surface Laptop 4, Microsoft also announced new Surface Headphones 2+ for Business which have been designed for Microsoft Teams. In addition, the Surface Headphones 2+ battery is rated to 15 hours of voice use and includes 13 levels of adjustable noise cancellation. Microsoft have also included a USB dongle which has a LED indicator to show when the microphone is muted. 

These ship with a dongle (needed for Teams certification). Pricing is $299. Shipping now.

Oh…and Surface branded Webcam and USB-Speaker. 

Yep – you heard it right.  If you have your own home office and don’t need to rely on headphones or ear pods, then Microsoft has now launched their very own Surface branded Webcam and USB-C Speaker.  Pricing was confirmed at $99.99 and available from June.

Microsoft Teams Speaker

Next up, Microsoft announced the Surface webcam which offers true 1080p video resolution video (which beats the built in 720p camera) and provides a 78-degree field of view, support for HDR, and an integrated privacy shutter.  Cost is $69 and ships in June.

SurfaceWebCam

Both of these are important accessories to ensure calls are crisp and clear when working from home. Many still use cheap headsets or non-Teams certified devices so it’s great to see Microsoft release their own Surface branded accessories for their devices. 

Pre orders available now. 

 

 

 

Say Hello to the SurfacePro 7+

Surface Promo

Microsoft today have announced some subtle but important updates to their Surface family which I wanted to share with you quickly.

As always, I welcome any comments and thoughts – are you a fan or always on Surface range? What’s your thoughts on Hub 2S?

Surface Pro 7+ (not the “Pro 8”) Launched

The Surface Pro 5 shipped with an LTE variant which was and remained popular but neither the Pro 6 nor Pro 7 included an LTE variant which was extremely frustrating for organisations that wanted always on Surface Devices. Until now the only way to that was to move to the ARM based Surface Pro X or the baby Surface Go LTE...until now that is!

Announcing -the Surface Pro 7+ (yes, not sure why it’s not the Pro 8)

Image of Surface Pro 7+
Image of the Surface Pro 7 plus (courtesy Microsoft)

 

The Pro 7+ includes the following key updates to last year’s Surface Pro 7:

  • 11th Gen Processor options
    • Dual-core 11th Gen Intel® Core™ i3-1115G4 Processor (Wi-Fi)
    • Quad-core 11th Gen Intel® Core™ i5-1135G7 Processor (Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi AND LTE)
    • Quad-core 11th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-1165G7 Processor (Wi-Fi)
  • Same form factor as Pro 7
  • 2.1x faster than the Pro 7 (10th Gen) 
  • Optional LTE Support on select models
  • Battery is bigger and longer with 4.5x better than the Pro 5 LTE
  • Now includes removable SSD – like the Surface ProX

 

Surface Hub 2S 85”

The latest news here is that shipping of the latest giant 85″ Surface Hub has started shipping with US, UK and other shipping this month (existing orders) and EU following in early Feb followed by other regions such as Asia-Pac / India etc by March 2021.

Surface Hub 2S 85"

Surface Hub2S 85″ (courtesy Microsoft)

Microsoft spent a bit of time focusing on the huge achievements they have made here, not just on getting the device ready, but getting it ready for shipment and fulfilment globally – which given the pressures on manufacturing due to COVID-19 and Microsoft’s previous “challenges” in getting Surface Hub v1 into market this was well called out!

For those not familiar, Hub 2 S 85″ is a beast but a thing of beauty. If builds on the gorgeous look and familiar Surface family feel but also provides a nice upgrade to the (now 5-year-old) Surface Hub V1 84″. It’s still heavy at 85kgs but won’t require 4 of the “world’s strongest man contestants” at least to move into position and wall mount it. There’s also of course the familiar Steelcase wall mounts and roam stands available.

You can see the full spec’s in the image below

Surface Hub 2S 85" Specs

 

 

 

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go Review -Much better than you might think..

Surface Devices

Introduction

Anyone that reads my blogs/ramblings will know I’m a huge fan of Windows 10 and Surface and I have reviewed a fair few of them over the past 18 months.

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go is a more than capable, great looking, and best of all “affordable” premium laptop from Microsoft that is every bit “Surface”..well almost!

Surface Laptop Go starts at just £549 in the UK (as of Nov 2020) and it’s not often that you can find a “premium device” at this price point that isn’t plasticy, chunky, heavy, and slow (often with several generation old processors) – which is the typical trend around this price point – after all you get what you pay for right!

Here’s my hands on review.

Hands-on Review

What I find funny about Surface is that many analysts/reviewers (I won’t name names) often slate Surface for being an overpriced device when compared to, well, cheaper, non-premium device, but then again Surface is a premium brand, and, like Apple and premium does carry a price tag. What I think everyone who has ever had a Surface (from Surface Pro 4 and upwards) will agree, is that Microsoft do make some pretty awesome, good-looking, powerful and extremely productive devices with ink and touch and the centre of the Surface and Microsoft 365 message…. (more on that later).

If you’ve not experienced Surface before, then I truly think you are missing out.. Its like having a mediocre smart phone and then having never picked up a flagship Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy Phone. You have to try Surface!

Speeds, Feeds and Bolt-ons

Starting at just £549, the Surface Laptop Go package weighs a solid 2.44 lbs and feels every bit as premium as its larger flagship brother- the Surface Laptop. 

The base / entry level features:

  • 12.4-inch 2:3 ratio touch screen with 10-point multi-touch
  • 10th Gen Intel Core i5 processor
  • 64GB of eMMC storage (with upgrade options to 128 GB or 256 GB SSD)
  • 1x USB-C and 1x USB-A port
  • Headphone Jack (yep – still got it)
  • Mid-range Intel UHD graphics
  • 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM (upgradable to 256GB)
  • 720p HD f2.0 front-facing webcam (not Windows Hello)
  • Firmware based TPM chip
  • All day battery (and it really is!).

What is missing?

There is of course “some” compromise in getting a premium device like Surface down to this price point, but thereof this brand and I must admit, I was surprised by two omissions on the Laptop Go (given it’s a sibling of the Surface Go).

  1. No LTE option (one of things that makes the Surface Go so great – you never know they might add an option in early 2021)
  2. No Windows Hello camera – though the high spec models have a Windows Hello finger-print reader. If you are used to Surface like me then you may find this hard to get used to!
  3. Whilst the Surface Laptop Go has a really nice and responsive touch screen, the one thing that really got me was this device does not support ink and pen – which is the first Surface to be released without pen or ink support – this “personally” is a big no no for me…Its a surface…. its a signature feature (ok rant over). 

What Spec did I test?

Microsoft sent me an evaluation unit (my company, Cisilion are Microsoft Gold Partners for Surface), which was a more beefed-up model and had: –

  • 16 GB RAM
  • 256 GB SSD
  • Windows Hello (via Fingerprint Reader)

How did it pan out?

Really well actually.

Screen:
I’ve read a few comments from other reviewers about “poor” screen quality! It’s not – it is just not as higher-resolution as the screen on the Laptop 3 and Surface Pro (as you’d expect for the price). The screen on the Laptop Go is the standard 3:2 ratio and features the much “as standard on Surface” ten-point multi touch. 

Battery: Microsoft claims up to 13 hours of usage, but in the week that I was testing for 50% work (Outlook, Teams, Word, PowerPoint) and 50% social (web, social, Netflix etc) and it managed on average just over 9.5hrs. 

Laptop Go will easily get anyone through a full day without having to charge/top it up which was one of my “issues” with the original Surface Go and while it’s not a big issue, charging is limited to the Surface charger cable – and it’s a shame for such a mobile device that charging isn’t supported via USB-C.

Performance: Ok so I was actually really impressed by just how well this little gem performed. I’ve been using “my” Laptop Go for a full week as main daily driver (my usual device is a Surface Book 2) and had none, absolutely none, performance issues at all. I has this connected to a Surface Dock (1st gen), driving a second screen and running every thing I need – Teams, Office Apps, PowerBI, Web Apps, CRM – everything. 

Noise: What? What a funny category to add Rob! So I added this category because, whilst the Laptop Go is silent most of the time, when you dial up the performance and drive a second screen, the Fan was on, almost continuously. Dial it back to “Better Performance” the fan turned off though with lots of apps open and the device on mains power, I favour “Best Performance Mode”. 

The Crux of it – Would I recommend and for what?

In short – yes!!

Building on the success of Surface Laptop the new Laptop Go is great device for anyone (home or business) that needs a light, good looking, mid-range laptop that is still a beautiful looking device – which this is.

The question of course is who’s it good for and when. Again I think there some great use cases

  • Education – DEFINATELY (all day battery, light, powerful)
  • Most Workers – DEFINATELY either as a second device or a primary device if you don’t need a powerhouse
  • Developers/Power Users – NOPE.
  • Home Use – DEFINATELY

I cant comment on the entry level version of course, but from what I have seen and experienced from a battery, processor performance these are great devices. Laptop Go is the ideal choice for the school (its a Windows device too so no application compromises) and the 10th Gen Intel Core i5 is meaty enough to get through any classroom task!

My Advice

  • For business – get a couple try them out – you’ll be surprised
  • For home – If you are buying a new laptop for home – don’t by  cheap clunky heap of plastic. Buy this – you’ll love it, your kids will love it. They are great.

Surface Laptop Go – the most “affordable” Surface yet

Surfac eLaptop Go Picture

Microsoft has released the much-anticipated sibling to the Surface Go with the announcement of the Surface Laptop Go (which is a bit of a mouthful) that starts at just £549 – for reference this is about half the price of the cost of its big brother, the Surface Laptop 3 which makes the Laptop Go could a seriously tempting device for anyone or any business that is bought into the Surface Brand but doesn’t need the size or power of the premium range.

The Laptop Go is to date, the most “affordable” laptop in Microsoft’s Surface line-up. 

Image of Surface Laptop Go

Is this like the Surface Go?

If you think of the Surface Go 2 as the “baby Surface Pro”, then the Laptop Go is a “baby Surface Laptop 3″ with a 12.4” screen.  It is a smaller, lower-spec device than the Surface Laptop 3 for sure, but it also is quite an uplift from the internals of the Surface Go 2, launched back in March.

The good news is that unlike the Surface Go (which I am a huge fan of and reviewed here), Microsoft has been far more generous with the technical internals of the Laptop Go and hasn’t cut corners on the processor. The Laptop Go features 10th Gen Intel’s Core i5 processors (the Surface Go uses the M3), which provides plenty of performance to handle everyday tasks such as web browsing, watching videos and working on big doc, presentations and spreadsheets.

The Laptop Go is also surprisingly accessory-friendly, with both USB-C and USB-A connections, along with Microsoft’s standard Surface port.

Surface Laptop Go is also hot on security, with Firmware TPM and Fingerprint Power Button for password-free One Touch sign-in on all but the base model. Weirdly there is no Windows Hello camera, which I was surprised at given it’s been a key feature on every Surface model since the Pro 5 and is even in the most entry level Surface Go 2. 

Designed for on the “Go”

Like the Surface Go, the small form factor of the Laptop Go means it is easy to pop into a bag or simply carry round and despite its weight (at just 1.1Kgs), it does look and feel (so they say) every bit like a Surface. Battery power is claimed to be around 13hrs and supports fast-charging – which can take you from zero to 80% charge in just an hour.

One thing which I had assumed would be an option, is lack of support for mobile data (LTE/4G) which I presumed would be there – it seems the LTE variant is still only available in the Surface Go and Surface Pro X range.

Laptop Go

The Laptop Go comes in blue, platinum and sandstone colours.

Compromise or Upgrade?

To keep the price point of the cheapest Laptop Go cheap, there are some compromises in the £549 model.

  1. Graphics: Being a more “budget” Surface device, graphics power is one place where there is some compromise. The Laptop Go includes the more entry level ‘Intel UHD’ graphics chip, compared with the significantly more powerful ‘Intel Iris Plus’ which is included within the Surface Laptop 3.
  2. RAM – The entry level Surface Laptop Go comes with only 4GB RAM which is really the bear minimum anyone should have in a device these days! This is fine if you are mainly using web apps and only a few apps, but if you plan on doing lots of multi-tasking and don’t want to have to keep closing apps to free up memory, you’ll want to  opt for the 8GB version,
  3. Storage – The entry level Laptop Go has just 64GB of the cheaper, more basic ‘eMMC’ storage which isn’t as fast as the solid-state drives (SSD) found in the higher specification models.

A small upgrade – makes all the difference

The shortcomings high-lighted above can be easily overcome by throwing a little more money at the Laptop Go.

If you go for the next model up in the range (which is an extra £149), you get

  • A faster and larger (128GB) SSD
  • 8GB of RAM.

If you want even more, you can change the config up to 16GB RAM and 256GB SSD, though personally at this level I’d be looking at “grownup” Surface!

When can I get one?

It’s available for pre-order now with delivery dates from 27th October 2020 in the UK


Surface Duo (aka Surface Phone) launched

Late last night (UK time), Microsoft officially “launched” the next milestone in their Surface Journey with a new form-factor device under the prestigious brand of “Surface”. 

What is Surface Duo?

Surface Duo brings mobile productivity to a new level – powered by a new mobile form-factor, two screens and powered by a customised Android OS and Microsoft 365 apps and services.
Image of Surface DuoSomeone holding a Surface Duo
Surface Duo (images courtesy of Microsoft)

Surface Duo promises to deliver the easiest and most natural way to multitask on the go, bringing together the power of Microsoft 365 apps, services and experiences with the full ecosystem of Android mobile apps all of which can be fully managed, configured and protected with Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Defender ATP.

Of course, this is a Surface – not just a device running Android OS! One of the incredible capabilities of this new Surface is its ability to natively connecting to a full Windows 10 experience in the cloud with Windows Virtual Desktop, making Surface Duo perfectly aligned to its vision and enablement of the modern workplace – for execs, for first line workers or as the perfect companion device to everything else!

Running Windows Virtual Desktop on Surface let’s not only allow you to run Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) on a Surface Duo but it will fully support the native device experience and Windows 10 – supporting touch, pen, ink, and biometric authentication in across both the physical device and virtual environments seamlessly. 

When is it Available?

Surface Duo will begin shipping on September 10, 2020 and according to Microsoft, “represents the next wave of mobile productivity, inspiring people to rethink what is possible with the device in their pocket“. 

What’s the Spec?

Surface Duo will represent the thinnest foldable mobile device on the market with an 8.1″ PixelSense Fusion display connected by a revolutionary 360-degree hinge, allowing the user to view and interact with each 5.6″ display individually or together, across a variety of modes with native support already available across a wide range of Microsoft, and other applications including OneNote, Microsoft Teams and Outlook.

While the full specs haven’t been released, the core specs that have been shared are quite impressive and include:

  • Less than 5mm thick (so very thin) and only 9.6mm when folded/closed
  • Two 5.6″ high-res (1,800 x 1,350) Gorilla Glass covered 5.6” AMOLED displays that fold out into an impressive 8.1”, 401 dpi screen
  • Unique 360-degree hinge design 
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SOC
  • Single USB-C 
  • Wi-Fi and 4G (yes, no 5G on initial launch)
  • 11MP Camera (but don’t let the low res get you down as this is Surface so will be a high-quality sensor with excellent low light (F-Stop) support – though I haven’t seen the actual spec on this as yet!

Someone holding a Surface Duo in folded configuration

The specs aren’t really the focus – its more about what and how the device helps embrace modern working. Microsoft’s Surface (and now Windows) lead, Panos Panay, and team, don’t really focus on speeds and feeds as the target market for this isn’t the consumer, it’s their loyal Surface and Microsoft 365 customers. 

Enterprise Security from Chip to Cloud

There has been a huge focus, on Security (as you’d expect from Microsoft) and Surface Duo has protection built in at every layer with deeply integrated hardware, firmware, and software to keep your devices, identities, and data secure.

Microsoft have taken their custom engineered Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), used across the Surface range and embedded this into Duo too, which enables full control over firmware components. Microsoft have released a detailed document on exactly how they will do this here:

How much does it cost and when can I get it!

Surface Duo pricing starts at $1,399 (US) – no UK pricing yet and not “currently” available for pre-order but expect this to change very soon!

What do you think?

I’ll certainly be getting one as soon as they are available and will provide a full hand-on review once I have my hands on one!

Keen on your initial thoughts on this. 

 

Microsoft’s Spring 2020 Surface Updates

Yesterday (May 6th 2020), Microsoft have announced their annual “spring updates” to the Microsoft Surface for Business line-up with new and updated devices and accessories to help your employees, teachers and front line worker, work, connect and learn anywhere, including:

  • Surface Book 3
  • Surface Go 2, and
  • Surface Dock 2.

Now more than ever with COVID-19, the way your teams work, connect, collaborate, and learn continues to change. As more people turn to their devices to get things done, it has never been more important to empower them with the best technology to help them succeed and retain their key talent – their staff.

The new Surface devices and accessories are available for pre order today

Surface Go 2 Image

Surface Go 2
Lightweight portability for the task at hand. Surface Go 2 has a bigger, 10.5” touchscreen display in the same compact size, up to 10 hours of battery life, and is
64% faster than Surface Go with the Intel® Core™ m3 Processor. Available with optional LTE/4G Advanced, the Surface Go 2 is a super lightweight 2-in1 with the full power of Windows 10.

Surafce Book 3

Surface Book 3
This is Microsoft’s most powerful Surface laptop which is up to 50% faster than Surface Book 2, pairing speed, graphics, up to 17.5 hours of battery life with the versatility of a high-performance robust laptop, powerful tablet, and portable design studio. For the first time, Surface Book 3 15” offers an option of NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 which has more graphics performance than the top of the line MacBook Pro 16”.

Getting the kind of power and performance needed to do complex modeling and graphics intensive work, with an Intel 10th generation CPU with up to 32GB RAM and 2TB professional-grade SSD.

 

SurfaceDock2

Surface Dock 2

Finally updated, the new Surface Dock 2 instantly transforms Surface into a desktop PC with all the next-gen ports you need, including USB-C®. Simply plug in the familiar Surface Connect cable to charge your device and access external monitors, a keyboard, mouse, and more. Surface Dock 2 was built to maximize efficiency at the office, in a flexible workspace, or at home.

Surface Dock 2 offers Enterprise grade features including frictionless firmware updates, Wake on LAN, network boot and centralised IT control over who can connect to docks and how.

Surface Headphones 2

Surface Headphones 2: The Smarter way to listen

New and in different colours, Surface headphones 2, allow you to listen and talk in comfort and style all day. Music and phone calls sound spectacular with enhanced Omnisonic sound now offering aptX™ codec support. . You can effortlessly rotate the on-ear dials to adjust the volume or noise cancellation and has 4 microphones per ear cup for exceptional voice clarity and also 20 hr battery.  Use touch to control your music, calls, and more. Now you can rotate the ear cups to 180 degrees for greater comfort when wearing around your neck. Now available in Matte Black.