During day three of Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference, Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner said that fiscal 2014 will be the company's biggest "innovation year" ever. He also displayed a slide showing a collection of product launch points including Skype, Windows Phone, Office, Dynamics and even Surface.
According to ZDNet, Microsoft plans to release new Surface accessories and accessory colors. The slide also revealed an update to Surface RT and Surface Pro themselves, but it was unclear whether that meant firmware-type monthly updates or a whole new set of hardware – the slide didn't specify. Other reports have taken this as a sign that new Surface tablets will arrive within the next twelve months, and they're probably right.
There's a good chance the next Surface Pro will be based on Intel's new "Haswell" fourth-generation Core processors given that the chips are now appearing in Windows 8-powered Ultrabooks. As for the next-generation Surface RT, last month reports surfaced (no pun intended) that Microsoft has added Qualcomm as a Surface RT supplier. Sources indicated that the Snapdragon 800 will be the chip of choice for the LTE models while Nvidia will likely supply Tegra 4 for the Wi-Fi only models.
Back in May, an unnamed source said that Microsoft is shooting to sell 25 million Surface devices in the 2014 fiscal year. By comparison, the company only sold less than 1 million units within the first quarter of the 2013 calendar year (January to March). To do this, the company plans to aggressively push the devices in enterprise, retail and education sectors. The company also wants Surface to become the top tablet choice of its distribution partners. There will even be a variety of form factors including an 8 inch model.
"Surface success is a top company priority in consumer and commercial, retail and broader, ARM and x86, growth and profit, and devices and accessories," an internal document states.
As for Skype, Turner talked about support for large meetings, support for enterprise voice, and integration with Outlook.com (which is already available in preview form) and Office 365. For Windows Phone, Microsoft plans a Start screen "innovation", a hint of "killer hardware" and a common app platform across all Windows-based devices, even the Xbox One. Microsoft also plans to finally release Office apps for Windows Store in fiscal 2014.
Turner also reportedly said that Microsoft will have a total of 101 brick-and-mortar stores by the end of (fiscal) 2014, a combination of full-size shops and specialty stores. Currently Microsoft has more than 75 stores located throughout the U.S. and Canada, a factor that was reportedly one of the causes for slow Surface RT sales last fall. The company also plans to launch stores in China in fiscal 2014 as well.
Microsoft's 2014 fiscal year began July 1, 2013.