Week in Tech: Microsoft's got its mojo back


If you live long enough, you get to see amazing things. Electric cars. 4K streaming. Microsoft being cool. Wait, what? We're not kidding: this week Microsoft unveiled the kind of kit that makes credit cards twitch and competitors cry in a presentation that couldn't have said "Microsoft has got its mojo back" more clearly without actually putting "Microsoft has got its mojo back" posters all over the place. Meanwhile, Google's Porsche partnership went into reverse and rivals unveiled interesting new ideas that could be a really big deal. As a famous Microsoft product might put it: "It looks like you're writing a Week in Tech. Would you like help?"

The Surface Book: now Microsoft makes laptops

If the Surface Pro is a tablet that can turn into a laptop, the new Surface Book is a laptop that can turn into a tablet. Its rotating, removable screen enables you to use it in tablet mode, laptop mode or presentation mode, and it has impressive specs to match the clever design.

As Kevin Lee says: "Touted as the thinnest Windows 10 machine ever created, this laptop is part of the two-in-one family and users can snap off the 7.7mm thick screen for a tablet experience. On top of a novel design, the Surface Book is a uniquely performance-focused hybrid that integrates a discrete Nvidia graphics card while offering up to 12 hours of battery life." Yours for $1,499 (about £984, AU$2,095) from 26 October.

And the sequel to the Surface Pro 3 is called…

… the Surface 4. Sorry if we raised your expectations there. The name may be predictable but the new Pro tablet is a force to be reckoned with. It's slimmer, it's got more pixels, it has a higher resolution stylus with Cortana summoning powers, and comes with some seriously quick Core i5 and i7 processors, up to 1TB of SSD storage and up to 16GB of RAM. Prices start at US$899 (£749, AU$1,349) and once again, it'll be shipping on 26 October.

New Lumias go back to the future

The existence of the new Lumia 950 and Lumia 950XL was hardly the tech world's best kept secret, but while the phones push the tech specs – liquid cooling, anyone? – without doing anything radically new, they can connect to Microsoft's new docking station and effectively transform into fully-featured PCs. If you think that sounds familiar you're right, because Motorola tried it a few years ago with its Atrix, but mobile tech has come a long way in a short time and Microsoft's Continuum system does a pretty good job of delivering something akin to a full PC experience.

Putting the Band back together

Microsoft has given its Band a makeover: the Microsoft Band 2 is curvier, better looking and its sensor capabilities have been bumped up too, but the price is a pretty reasonable $249 (likely to be £249, AU$350). Coming in at a slightly higher price is the HoloLens Developer Kit, which costs a cool $3,000 per set; Microsoft is asking developers to apply for access to the limited programme, with the first dev kits shipping early in the new year.

Ninja cats, doges and thunder

Microsoft's event wasn't just about unveiling cool new hardware. It was about funny stickers, digs at Apple and shouts of "BRING THE THUNDER!" If you took our "Are these quotes from 50 Shades Of Grey or the Apple iPhone 6S Event?" quiz, you'll know the fun that can be had with out of context quotes, so you'll be delighted to discover that we've gathered the best ones from the Microsoft event, along with a picture of a really fantastic hat.

Porsche goes into reverse gear over Android Auto

A war of words has begun over claims in Motor Trend that Porsche chose Apple's CarPlay over Android Auto because "certain pieces of data must be collected and sent back to Mountain View, California", threatening drivers' privacy. Google has denied the allegation and says it doesn't "collect the data the Motor Trend article claims such as throttle position, oil temp, and coolant temp" and that information sharing is opt-in. However, questions are now being asked about what information Android Auto does access, what information it might also be able to access, and what protections are in place to stop it sharing information you don't want it to.

Amazon goes live and Facebook's bunch of ARs

Buying Oculus was a bit of a hint, and now Mark Zuckerberg has publicly stated that Facebook thinks augmented reality could be a really big deal for the social network. He didn't go into specifics, but he did talk a lot about the potential of AR and VR during a talk for the New Establishment Summit this week. Meanwhile Amazon has made some interesting moves in the real world: it's blocked its sellers from shifting Apple TVs because they don't support Prime Video, and it looks like it might launch its own live TV service before Apple's one gets off the ground.

The TechRadar hive mind. The Megazord. The Voltron. When our powers combine, we become 'TECHRADAR STAFF'. You'll usually see this author name when the entire team has collaborated on a project or an article, whether that's a run-down ranking of our favorite Marvel films, or a round-up of all the coolest things we've collectively seen at annual tech shows like CES and MWC. We are one.