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Microsoft Teasing Two New Surface Models for Fiscal 2014

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.

  • stevejnb
    All good and fine, but what they really need to do is offer *substantially* better pricing. The Surface products, even the RT, are fine products for certain price points which they are *far* above. The Pro is a great product, but competitors are offering similarly great products for up to $200'ish less. The RT, while it is basically a "toy" tablet like iOS and Android devices, has a less robust app store and not nearly the brand name - but is priced at the top of the heap. That thing should be $250'ish *tops* at this point in time otherwise an Android tablet just makes more sense.
    Reply
  • samwelaye
    Cmon microsoft, make a Surface with Kabini or Bay Trail!!
    Reply
  • ojas
    "Gees, Brain, what do want to do tonight?"

    "Same thing we do every night, Pinky: Try to take over the world!"
    Reply
  • halcyon
    I'm still not sure why I would want a Surface tablet as opposed to an Android or iOS tablet. I can handle Office files well on both Android and iOS as well as having access to the plentiful app stores they offer. What does Surface have to offer?
    Reply
  • stevejnb
    11144954 said:
    I'm still not sure why I would want a Surface tablet as opposed to an Android or iOS tablet. I can handle Office files well on both Android and iOS as well as having access to the plentiful app stores they offer. What does Surface have to offer?

    A Pro tablet offers a *lot* more power than any Android device I've ever used. On top of that, full regular Windows support, offering the ability for the tablet to basically turn into a full traditional Windows PC with an HDMI/VGA cable, a mouse, and a keyboard, or operate like a media consumption "toy" tablet device. Also, as someone who used an Android tablet as a primary note-taking and work device for almost two years, actual Office running from a traditional Windows desktop is *far* slicker than the several office suites I'd tried. Multitasking is as much better in comparison to "toy" tablets as well as a regular PC desktop's is since, well, it has full Windows on it. On top of that, my Acer Iconia W700 runs full desktop games just dandy (Ciilization V and the new MMO Neverwinter Online), along with any Android app through Bluestacks.

    A lot of people don't need these things and, as such, a Windows 8 pro tablet may not be for them - I find Android to be *excellent* for inexpensive tablets, and I still prefer it for things like text to speech. Pretending like these perks don't exist is probably a case of wilful ignorance though. What a lot of people don't realize is, some of these Widows 8 tablets are basically ultrabooks in an extremely compact form factor, and they can do basically anything an Ultrabook can. I've used Android tablets for years, even iOS through an iPod touch and friends' iPads, and a full Windows 8 tablet blows them both out of the water for functionality.
    Reply
  • mcd023
    What surface rt has to offer is extended monitor support, support for millions of USB devices out of the box, incredibly rugged build (some have gotten run over by 2 or 3 cars and were fine). Of course, one is more than welcome to get a comparable android or iOS tablet that can do neither of the first 2, but that's fine. And, of course, non-surface tablets have the same software.

    The no desktop apps for the rt really isn't much of a problem. I have a surface pro and the only desktop apps that I use are Visual Studio express builds. Everything else is in a Windows Store app.

    EDIT: probably the only reason I wouldn't get the RT is I don't want to go to a lower resolution screen XD
    Reply
  • stevejnb
    Mc, I have to disagree with you on the "no desktop apps for the rt really isn't much of a problem." With the Pro Windows tablets, you have the ability to plug it into a monitor, mouse, and keyboard, and have it be a full PC. I know this isn't important to everyone, but it is not an insignificant thing for everyone.

    Personally, I don't like having one main work station with several smaller devices offering an inferior work/entertainment experience orbiting it. The Pro tablets, in my eyes, don't compromise function in any notable way - barring stuff like high-end PC graphics - whereas RT tablets do significantly. Being stuck with little but the Windows app store is, at this point, not a great full computing experience in my eyes. Good enough for a fun side device, but not for a device I'd want to use as a primary work station or entertainment hub.
    Reply
  • JOSHSKORN
    They need to come out with the Surface Watch with built-in Kinect and SmartPhone. People stopped wearing watches when SmartPhones came out. I'm pretty sure there'd be a market for putting something like a Smartphone/Tablet in a convenient place..on your wrist.
    Reply
  • burnley14
    I want to buy a surface tablet, I really do. But what I need is the performance/specs/functionality of the Pro in the RT's form factor with RT's battery life at RT's price. Make it happen and I'll buy one on launch day, Microsoft.
    Reply
  • w8gaming

    Windows store does not offer enough app that can rival Android or iOS. If you look at the typical usage for Android or iOS, Windows store completely falls flat on that. Without significant advantage such as x86 support, pen support, that typically does not exist for cheaper Android or iOS devices, RT at its current price simply will never be able to compete with sub-$200 devices from Android. That's fine if Microsoft prefers a world where most people have an cheap Android devices, while Windows only exists in the high end Ultrabook segment. Otherwise they have to seriously address the shortcoming in RT, and while they are doing it, put in built-in 3G/LTE support on those device.
    Reply