September could be a big month for tech launches, as not only is Apple widely expected to unveil the iPhone 15 at an event in a few weeks’ time, but Microsoft is getting in on the action, sending out invites to what it calls a “special event”, which is taking place on September 21 in New York.
The invites, sent to selected press outlets (as reported by Windows Central and others) , is typically cryptic, so we don’t have any specifics on what Microsoft is planning on showing. It’s likely that we’ll see some new Surface devices, such as the follow ups to the Surface Laptop 5 and Surface Pro 9.
We may also see the Surface Laptop Studio 2, the follow up to Microsoft’s innovative laptop that’s designed for digital creatives, and the affordable Surface Go 4 and Surface Laptop Go 3.
It’s probably a safe bet that Microsoft will also share its vision for the future of its Windows 11 operating system, including any new features coming soon. Windows 11 will be getting a big update in September, which will include an early version of its AI-powered Windows Copilot tool.
Speaking of artificial intelligence, you can probably expect Microsoft to talk about that a lot, as it’s been adding AI capabilities – such as the Bing Chat AI chatbot – to a range of its products, including the Edge web browser, and I can’t imagine that drive for more AI integration is going to stop any time soon.
A bold move
Microsoft has in the past held events for its new hardware around the end of September and early October, so there wasn’t a huge amount of surprise when the latest invites dropped. However, September 2023 looks set to have plenty of big releases – which could overshadow Microsoft’s reveals.
The Meta Quest 3 VR headset is expected to be launched around the same time, and of course hype is building for the iPhone 15 launch.
Apple’s event will likely be towards the beginning of September, but with reviews likely coming in, alongside a release date closer to the middle of the month, it’s likely people will still be talking about the new handsets by the time of Microsoft’s events.
Since the demise of Windows Phones, and the lack of success with the Surface Duo 2 foldable phone, Microsoft doesn’t offer direct competition with the iPhone. Still, there will be a battle for mindshare (and people’s increasingly limited budgets) that Microsoft will struggle to win.
With the Surface devices being seen as Microsoft’s answers to Apple’s iPhone and MacBook products, the company needs to really sell why people should pick a Surface. While previous Surface products have been generally very good, with a few misfires, they simply haven’t caught the public’s attention in the way Apple’s devices have.
Microsoft’s job will be made harder if Apple has a very successful iPhone 15 launch. Its handsets are tightly integrated into the Apple ecosystem, so if a lot of people buy the new iPhone, but also need a new tablet or laptop, they will likely go for an iPad or MacBook to get some of the exclusive features that allow Apple devices to work together.
This makes it likely that Microsoft will go in hard on AI at its event. While the company has been heavily involved in recent AI innovations – it not only offers its own Bing Chat AI, but is a partner of OpenAI, the company behind the popular ChatGPT AI – Apple has seemed distinctly uninterested in AI so far.
That could all change in the future, but for now, AI could be a big selling point for Surface devices over iPhones, iPads and MacBooks. Microsoft certainly hopes so.
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Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.