We are a few hours away from Microsoft possibly unveiling a new direction for its Windows operating system and the Surface line-up of computing devices. It is expected that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will be in attendance. It is also expected that Panos Panay, chief product officer of Microsoft Devices group, will be in attendance. When the big guns are there, it clearly means Microsoft is taking the announcements very seriously. As users, you and I may not perhaps realize the impact of some of the potential announcements, because we will perhaps think this is just another series of Surface machines or yet another set of updates for Windows. But nothing could be further from the truth.
This does remind me of 2015, when Microsoft went the whole hog and rolled out the Surface Pro 4, the Surface Book, the Microsoft Band 2, and even three Lumia smartphones—yes, the latter was still a thing, back then. This time around, expect software specifically Windows 10 to get as much of the attention as the potential new hardware. Which neatly leads us to the big question—what all should we expect? Well, here is a mix of our expectations and our wish-list.
Surface Pro 7
Last year saw the refresh that got us the Microsoft Surface Pro 6, and it is not outlandish to expect the successor to arrive this time around. We would expect Microsoft to switch to USB-C this time around—a wrong that would be finally corrected, in the eyes of many. If I had to lean in with an opinion, Microsoft will try to find the balance of retaining the standard USB connectivity, simply for compatibility’s sake, and add the USB-C for data and power. Under the hood, expect Microsoft to go with the 10th generation Intel Core processors. Not too much in terms of a design change perhaps, but maybe some tweaks to the Surface Type Cover perhaps—maybe new materials and finish could be on the cards. And it doesn’t need one either, because the Surface Pro still doesn’t have a genuine rival.
New Surface Pen
How about a new Surface Pen, which magnetically attaches to the Surface Pro, complete with wireless charging? Apple did it with the latest generation of the Apple Pencil, with the iPad Pro redesign allowing wireless charging and magnetic docking. In fact, there is a grant issued by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in September for a "new stylus pen"
Surface Laptop 3
The Surface Laptop 2 was gorgeous, and we really want a Surface Laptop 3. While the current Surface Laptop 2 has a somewhat unique 13.5-inch display size, we could perhaps see the 13-inch and 15-inch screen sizes. The design and form factor should remain largely the same, because the Surface Laptop 3 is seen as the best possible Windows 10 alternative to Apple MacBook Air. New 10th generation Intel Core processors should be expected, though if there are more than one screen size variants, there could be some AMD powered variants as well. We would be sad to see the Alcantara fabric finish go, if at all that happens. The ultra-slim form factor, and the magic of the speakers hidden beneath the keyboard surely has its fans. And we wouldn’t want to change a good thing, at least not too much.
There has been a constant chatter about a stripped-down version of Windows 10. Something that is catering to lower-end Windows machines, convertibles and perhaps even drive a new revolution in the affordable computing device space. And even high-end dual screen laptops, which are becoming quite a rage. There is an example that Microsoft could take inspiration from—the Google Chrome OS. A simpler and minimalistic Windows would be great news for the sake of simplicity and could rely heavily on the cloud for apps and storage.
And that neatly leads us to a possible Surface computing device that could have two displays. It was reported over the summer that Microsoft was well past the initial development stage of a dual screen device. It was codenamed Centaurus, as indicated in reports by Windows Central. And that would indeed be the perfect introduction for Windows Lite. Could this also lead the wave of dual screen laptops and convertibles that are expected to launch through next year, as the trend catches on? Asus have done it, HP have done it, but there are still question marks about whether users really want this or not. At least just yet.
Windows 10 19H2 update
The next big update for the Windows 10 running in your PC or laptop, could be officially given the green flag at the Surface event. And that will be great news for 900 million or so Windows 10 users globally. Known as Windows 10 1909 or Windows 10 19H2 update, this is the last big update at least for this calendar year. Apart from the usual performance improvements and bug fixes, the Windows 10 1909 build is expected to implement a rotation policy to manage how the app and process load is shared between the favored processor cores, in return for improved battery life on laptops and convertibles. There will be access to voice assistants on the lock screen, updates to Windows Explorer and tweaks to make the Windows update download and installation process smoother.
Ever since Apple made the AirPods wireless earbuds, pretty much everyone has decided to get into the game. Amazon being the latest. Microsoft made the jump into the audio space with the Surface Headphones last year, and it won't exactly be a surprise if they do launch wireless earbuds as well. There have been rumours for a while that the company was working on wireless buds, and this may just be the year to launch them.