The next chapter in Windows 10
Microsoft's Surface event had everything: devices we fully expected, some we absolutely didn't and a few downright raunchy moments sprinkled in for good measure.
We were treated to devices of every stripe, including one that's truly a first for Microsoft. If you missed the event live, we've gathered up the most important announcements, coolest demos and best/most uncomfortable lines from the event. Read on for the full rundown!
Surface Pro 4 shows its face
The biggest non-surprise of them all, the Surface Pro 4 finally showed its face at Microsoft's gathering. Unveiled to the high-pitched wails and rhythmic strumming of AC/DC's Thunderstruck, the Surface Pro 4 is thin, light and high on lapability.
Packing a 12.3-inch screen with 267ppi, a custom chipset, up to 1TB of storage and up to 16GB of RAM, the Surface Pro 4 so far seems a worthy evolution of the Surface Pro 3.
It starts at $899 (about £589, AU$1,253) and comes with an all-new Surface Pen. If you're itching for a powerful tablet, preorders start October 7.
Wait, so I SHOULD get a laptop?
After essentially telling us that the Surface family has squashed the dilemma of whether to buy a tablet or a laptop, head of Surface Panos Panay went ahead and announced... a laptop.
Called the Surface Book, Microsoft's first-ever laptop is "ounce for ounce, pound for pound, the fastest 13-inch laptop ever made," according to Panay. Featuring a Nvidia GeForce GPU, 13.5-inch screen (that also detaches!), a nifty dynamic fulcrum hinge and 12 hours of battery life, the Surface Book laptop looks like one sweet device.
Its starting price is $1,499 (about £978, AU$2,081), with preorders beginning October 7 and shipments heading out October 26.
Digs at Apple
Some companies go for subtlety when they make comparisons to rival products, but not Microsoft. Not today.
Presenters had no no scruple in calling out Cupertino. Surface Pro 4 vs MacBook Air? The former is 50% faster. Surface Book vs MacBook Pro? Pah! Microsoft's tab will give you twice the power of Apple's machine.
Even the Surface Pro 4 pen got its day in the sun. When Panay mentioned it comes with an eraser, he mused: "Isn't it funny? We put an eraser on it. There's a pencil out there without an eraser, but we put an eraser on it." That "pencil" of course is the Apple Pencil that goes along with the iPad Pro – which does have an eraser of sorts, but not a traditional rubbery one like Microsoft's.
HoloLens and Project X-ray
Microsoft's best demo came at the start as it showed off mixed reality gaming experience Project X-ray for the HoloLens AR viewer.
The experience turns every room in your house into a personalized game level. The onstage demo involved a guy wearing HoloLens and shooting lasers at robots that were coming out of the walls. Holding some sort of controller, the dude was able to generate holograms he could hold – in this case an armored blaster and a shield. The robots exploded in a ball of fire when hit, and also knew where the walls were so they didn't go beyond them.
It was a neat demo, though HoloLens' field of view limitations are well documented. Microsoft is releasing the HoloLens dev kit in Q1 2016 for $3,000 (about £1,956, AU$4,096) so that app and game makers can get cracking on creating new augmented reality experiences.
Windows 10 is killing it (according to Microsoft)
There was of course the obligatory list of exciting numbers, which this time focused on Microsoft's optimism for its the new OS. Here are a few highlights:
- Windows 10 is now running on over 110 million devices
- There have been over 1 billion visits to the app store, and developers have seen revenue increase four times since Windows 10 rolled out
- 8 million business PCs are running the new OS
So, adoption is something to be proud of, and the future looks bright too. More universal apps are headed to Windows 10, including Facebook and Uber.
Impressive new Lumia phones
Before you click right through this slide, just know that these are the best looking Lumias yet.
Microsoft announced the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL, essentially the same phone in slightly different sizes (5.2 inches and 5.7 inches). Some of the phones' cooler features include dual antennas that allow the devices to pick up the best connection, liquid cooling, a "glance screen" feature that takes up zero battery life, USB Type-C support for faster charging, and an improved camera with triple LED RGB Natural Flash that banishes red eye.
As for price, the Lumia 950 will cost $549 (£450, about AU$766) while the 950 XL comes in at $649 (around £420, AU$900). Both will be available in November. Also headed to the masses is the Lumia 550, a much more affordable phone at $139 (about £90, AU$189) that comes out in December.
Meet the much improved Microsoft Band
It's a more activity focused device, designed for people "who want to live healthier and achieve more." It is more flexible, has no hard edges, curves pleasantly around the wrist and finally takes advantage of its screen size. There's Cortana integration, too, and she's no slouch: if you skip a workout, she'll ask if you want to reschedule.
Microsoft threw in a barometer for altitude readings, which users apparently really wanted. The new Band is more expensive than its predecessor at $249 (£199, about AU$347), but it has extra bells and whistles that seem to justify the $50 price bump. The new Microsoft Band is up for preorder today and will head out the door October 30.
The best out-of-context quotes
If you took our "Are these quotes from 50 Shades Of Grey or the Apple iPhone 6S Event?" quiz, you know that out-of-context press conference quotes can be much more entertaining than they are in their original environment. Here are some of today's best, primarily from Panos Panay and Marketing Manager Bryan Roper, who wore an awesome hat and should definitely be at more Microsoft events.
"Thank you for joining us earlier than we've ever asked you before." (OK, we only wanted to include this for those who tuned in on the West Coast at 7am).
"Spend a minute."
"Maybe you're tricking me with some demo magic?"
"Y'all are blowing up Twitter!"
"I can be productive like a boss wherever I am now."
"Did you hear that? That's insane! That's coming from a phone, folks!"
"Do you double down and bring the thunder?"
"Guys, it's the power of the pen."
"I know. It's pen storage."
More quotes (with a touch of context)
Referring to a Surface Pro 4 video that demonstrated capability of new tablet: "David, out of his head, out of his heart, out of his hand, he just wrote a beautiful symphony, just for you."
Suggesting David abandon Surface Pro 4 and use a Surface Book instead: "David, if you're here my friend, you want to write a symphony? Write it on this."
"Pick a tip. Feel 'em."
"I know it's super dorky, but it's suuuuper powerful."
"Typing is the most important feature outside of lapability, which you've all made fun of me for."
"I want a few of you to touch it, so I'm going to pull it out. You guys want touch this?"
"They warned me giving them out would cause ruckus."