Microsoft held its annual Microsoft Surface October event today (October 12) and unveiled what's next for the Surface family of laptops, tablets and PCs. To be specific, we got our first glimpse of the new Microsoft Surface Pro 9, Microsoft Surface Studio 2+ and the Microsoft Surface Laptop 5. Based on what was shown, these machines seem likely bets to land a spot on our best Windows 11 laptops list.
We were expecting updated versions of the Surface Pro 9 and Surface Laptop 5. However, we were pleasantly surprised to see an updated Surface Studio, which is Microsoft's all-in-one desktop computer aimed at creative pros. In addition, we got a recap of all the new features coming to Windows 11 and some surprise integration with Apple features like Apple Music and iCloud photos.
Here's a closer look at what Microsoft announced at its Surface event today (October 12):
Surface Pro 9: As expected, the new Surface Pro 9 will be available in either Intel or ARM flavors. The ARM version comes with 5G connectivity (in select areas) and Microsoft's Qualcomm-powered SQ 3 chip, while the Intel versions will come with 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs. This version also seems to have AI-driven NPU features that the Intel version doesn't.
At 0.37 inches thin and just under 2 pounds heavy it appears roughly the same, design-wise, as the Surface Pro 8, with the same 120Hz display and slick design. Regrettably, it seems as though Microsoft will still charge us extra for a stylus. This new machine isn't a radical overhaul of the Surface Pro line but the 5G model could be a major game changer.
Surface Laptop 5: The new Surface Laptop 5 looks pretty much like last year's model, and still comes in 13.5-inch and 15-inch variants powered by Intel's 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs. Sadly, it doesn't look like you can order one with AMD chips this time around, but on the plus side, Microsoft finally added support for Thunderbolt 4.
It appears as though Microsoft has changed little else about its flagship laptop this time around -- and that's a little disappointing when you consider our that in our Surface Laptop 4 review from last year we praised this Windows laptop's performance and speakers but lambasted its dated design.
Surface Studio 2+: Whoa, we weren't expecting this -- Microsoft announced the Surface Studio 2+, a follow-up to its big-screen Surface Studio 2 all-in-one desktop that's fine-tuned for creative work. With a 28-inch 4K+ (4,500 x 3,000 resolution) touchscreen and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 laptop GPU, this looks like a fantastic playground for creatives. Plus, it looks like Microsoft includes a Surface Pen stylus in the box, a must-have for a creative tool like this.
The only reservation we have is that this all-in-one is packing an outdated 11th Intel Core CPU, along with a mid-tier Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 laptop GPU. This may be enough for its intended use (i.e. as a digital canvas), but given how the Surface Studio 2+ costs $4,299, we think it's warranted to look at this otherwise brilliant computer with increased skepticism.
How to Watch the Surface Event
While the Surface event took place already at t 10 a.m. ET, 7 a.m. PT, 3 p.m. BST on October 12, you can still head to Microsoft's event website (opens in new tab) to watch a replay. We'd expect the event to show up on Microsoft's YouTube channel (opens in new tab), too, though it's not there as of this writing.
What follows is our minute-by-minute report on today's Microsoft announcements, along with some analysis in the build-up to the event.
Hello and welcome to our live blog for Microsoft’s October 2022 event, which looks to be all about the company’s Surface line of tablets, laptops and desktops. We’re definitely going to be introduced to some new Microsoft devices today, the only question is: what are we in for?
More than anything, we expect to see Microsoft unveil a Surface Pro 9 during the show today. Last year’s Surface Pro 8 is a solid Windows 11 tablet that doubles as a decent 2-in-1 laptop if you purchase the Type Cover keyboard, a $129 add-on that really ought to be included with every device for free. We’d love to see Microsoft unveil an upgraded Surface Pro 9 today with a detachable keyboard included at no extra charge, but that’s not all — check out our Microsoft Surface Pro 8 vs Surface Pro 9 comparison for a clear rundown of what changes we expect to see in a Surface Pro 8 successor.
As we wait for the event to kick off, take some time to catch up on the latest leaks and rumors circulating about what Microsoft has up its sleeves. While all such unconfirmed info should be taken with a grain of salt, it often gives us some insight into what to expect from the titans of tech.
Case in point: Earlier this week we caught wind of a Surface Pro 9 and Surface Laptop 5 specs leak, which claims both will be unveiled with Intel’s 12th Gen “Alder Lake” chips inside. That’s significant because it suggests you won’t be able to buy a Surface Laptop 5 with an AMD CPU, which you could get in the Surface Laptop 4.
All this excitement is bringing back memories of a Surface-focused Microsoft event around this time last year, when we were introduced to the Surface Pro 8, the Surface Duo 2 and more. While we expect a new Surface Pro to be unveiled today, we’re much less confident Microsoft will introduce us to a new Surface Duo.
In some ways that’s too bad, because the dream of a Microsoft phone that unfolds into a tablet (or phablet?) is a beautiful one. But as much as the Surface Duo 2 improved upon its predecessor, in the end it proved to be one big foldable fail. As much as we’d like to be surprised by a surprise Surface Duo 3 reveal today, it seems likely Microsoft will take more time at the drawing board before reviving the Surface Duo line.
One thing that helps Microsoft’s Surface Laptops stand out from the pack is the Alcantara fabric lining you can get lining the keyboard deck of select models. Sure, it seems like a minor detail, but having a layer of fabric insulating your hands and wrists from the cool aluminum chassis feels surprisingly nice.
Regrettably, the Surface Laptop 4 only offers the Alcantara fabric lining on 13.5-inch models. If you want the larger screen of the 15-inch model, you’re limited to choosing between a plain matte black or platinum-colored aluminum chassis. So as curious as we are about what’s under the hood of a new Surface Laptop 5, we’re also eager to see what cosmetic options Microsoft will offer. Green, red, purple...the possibilities are legion, and it would be wonderful to see Microsoft expand its Alcantara lining options to all colors and models of Surface Laptop 5. Fingers crossed!
Well, hello there! This is managing editor Roland Moore-Colyer stepping in for some Microsoft Surface event action. And yeah, I'm a little excited about this one,
I've long been a Surface fan, and I still reckon the Surface Laptop range has one of the best keyboards on any laptop ever; this is coming from a man who's just got the MacBook Air M2. So I have high hopes we'll see a new Surface Laptop today.
So what would I want to see from a Surface Laptop 5? Well a properly refreshed design for starters. Last year's Surface Laptop 4 was great but I felt it had taken the Surface Laptop look as far as it could.
With potential for narrower bezels, more USB-C ports and improved internals, I'm hoping for a Surface Laptop that's both svelte and surprisingly powerful. A slightly larger trackpad would be nice too. And as Alex mentioned earlier, more Alcantara keyboard coverings would get the thumbs up from me.
When it comes to specs, I'm hoping Microsoft will have explored its partnerships with Intel and AMD to have custom chips that better harness the portable power of the chip maker's laptop processors and make use of their latest GPU technology.
Various Surface Laptop generations make for reasonable old-school gaming machines. But I'd love to see a bit more power for running more modern games natively, even if that means having a dynamic resolution. And integrated Xbox Cloud Gaming from the start would be a boon too; we've just seen that happen with gaming-focused Chromebooks after all.
With Microsoft's Xbox Series X success, I'm already a little surprised we've not seen more gaming-related Surface devices; perhaps that could change today.
But then again, the native Xbox desktop app one the door to cloud-powered gaming via an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription. So perhaps Microsoft doesn't need to make and Surface Pro Xbox Edition; that does sound cool though...
Aside from a big specs leak touting 12th Gen Intel processors, there's not a lot in the ay of rumors swirling around the Surface Laptop 5.
I'm really hoping this is because Microsoft has kept the lid on its Surface work rather than the updates being so minor they've failed to catch the attention of would-be leakers. If nothing else, I hope the likes of Microsoft's Panos Panay have some big spec and performance figures to show off.
Time to chew over the Microsoft Surface Pro 9. Over the generations, the Surface Pro has really evolved into a true ever-day hybrid device. And arguably Microsoft has perfected the formula. So what's next?
Well aside for better specs and battery life, I'm sure Microsoft could do a little more work to narrow the display bezels. Sure, these make the Surface Pro easier to hold when in tablet mode but, I reckon Microsoft could find a software solution to that issue, meaning when connected to the keyboard, the tablet could provide a more immersive display.
On the specs side, I expect the Surface Pro 9 to make use of the latest Intel laptop-grade chips, meaning we can hope for solid boost clocks and decent performance for a range of every-day tasks.
Ideally, improved onboard graphics could give the Surface Pro 9 more gaming chops for when the working day is over. But that could be wishful thinking. Or it could be the domain of Xbox Cloud Gaming, turning the Surface Pro 9 into a game streaming device when paired with an Xbox Wireless Controller.
You know what I'd really like to see today? The Microsoft Surface Neo.
Back in 2019, Microsoft showed off the dual-screen Surface tablet that could double up as a pseudo Surface Laptop thanks to a magnetic keyboard attachment and a virtual touchpad. I remember seeing it in person — albeit it from afar and I got rudely pushed by a person when I got too close to snap a phot with my DSLR — and being very intrigued.
But alas, I think it may have gone the way of the dodo for good, with Microsoft having consigned it to the protype pile. So don't expect to see it today.
As for other Surface products that could be revealed today. Well, like Alex, I doubt we'd see another Surface Laptop Studio, unless it got a minor specs update.
But it would be good to see a new version of the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2, which are now more than two-years-old. Some improvements in battery life and things like design refinements would be welcome.
An update to the Surface Studio would also be very welcome. The all-in-one PC meets digital easel was an impressive, albeit very expensive, but of computing kit. But it's getting long in the tooth now.
An updated version with an improved display and ideally more powerful specs that could appeal to gamers as well as creatives would catch my eye. And perhaps a refinement of the design would be nice too; I ask for a lot, ok.
OK, we're now under an hour away from the Microsoft Surface October event. Do let us know what you are looking forward to from the Surface showcase.
To do that you can follow us on @tomsguide (opens in new tab) on Twitter, visit our Facebook page (opens in new tab), or even follow our TikTok (opens in new tab) account where editor Kate Kozuch has the knack of bring you the latest tech news and views in mere seconds.
Oh, in case you think the Surface event will be all about hardware, there's a good chance Microsoft will talk about some Windows 11 tweaks.
It's been a year since Windows 11 got an official release, so the Redmond company probably has a few things to say about the operating system, as well as flag any upcoming tweaks. I've been using Windows 11 for a bit now, and while it's decent, I'm sure it has a lot more scope for refinement.
Time for a live look in at the Microsoft Surface event feed (opens in new tab), which is currently showing an animated version of the above graphic and playing some trippy music.
We're 10 minutes out from the event getting underway, and still no live stream on YouTube that we can see so you're best bet to follow along is at the Microsoft event website... or via a certain live blog with your Tom's Guide pals.
You can also watch via the Microsoft Surface Twitter feed (opens in new tab), if you are so inclined.
Tune in to see what’s next for Surface. #MicrosoftEvent https://t.co/Hv1QpmEqkr pic.twitter.com/0KvjN5ounDOctober 12, 2022
Philip Michaels here to take you through the event itself on a busy day for Microsoft. While this Surface event is going on Microsoft is also hosting its Microsoft Ignite event, a gathering for IT pros and developers. Are these events related? Probably not, but it just shows what a massive company Microsoft is.
Panos Panay is here to kick us off, celebrating 10 years of Surface. There's a lot of reminiscing about the origin story of Microsoft hardware. It's all about challenging conventional form factors to remove barriers for users.
We're kicking things off with the next-generation of Surface laptop — the Surface Laptop 5 specifically. You can get models in 13.5- and 15-inch frames. Designed for Windows 11, natch.
The Surface Pro 5 features a responsive touchscreen and glass trackpad. Microsoft is also touting how quiet the keyboard is.
Expect a sleek, light design, and the new colors include sage.
Surface Laptop 5 features 18-hour battery and the latest Intel processors. There's a new Focus mode for filtering out distractions. (As a phone guy, it amazes me that laptops now take their cues from smartphone features instead of the other way around.)
Among the sustainability feature is the ability to schedule Windows 11 updates when your local power grid is not so taxed. That's an interesting way of achieving carbon neutrality, which is Microsoft's ultimate goal as a company.
And that's the Surface Laptop 5. Time for a Windows 11 update.
Windows 11 moved accessibility controls out of apps and into the OS itself -- features live captions, voice control and narrator.
Now we're talking security. Smart App Control only allows apps to run if they're predicted to be safe. Windows 11 uses Windows 11 and password-less support, too, for safer logins.
I'm not going to lie. Microsoft is going through these Windows 11 features like an auctioneer, and it's hard to keep up. Suffice it to say, Microsoft is touting a lot of improvements, some of which were part of the recent update, some of which are new.
iCloud Photo integration is coming to Windows 11. Apple Music is coming to Xbox, and it's going to join the Apple TV app in the Microsoft app store next year.
We've moved on to Surface Pro 9, the latest 2-in-1 for Microsoft. Microsoft is handling this presentation like it's got a bus to catch.
You're getting new colors, plus 12th Gen processors from Intel built on the Evo platform. The 13-inch display promises more accurate colors and when you detach the screen from the keyboard, Windows 11 adjusts the spacing of the icons for easier use with touch.
Surface Pen features include search capabilities and you can launch presentations with a click. Microsoft put some effort into making it seem as if you're writing on a real piece of paper.
On the note-taking front, Good Notes is coming to the Surface Pro 9.
The camera on the Surface Pro 9 is centered, and the microphones face toward you.
The rumors are true — there's now a version with 5G that promises 19 hours of battery life.
Among the Surface Pro 9 features is auto-framing that keeps you in the shot. Windows Studio Effects also prevent the camera from blurring as it follows you.
A voice focus feature makes sure that you're heard. The feature kept a leaf blower silent during Microsoft's presentation thanks to a Voice Focus feature.
Panos is back to talk about the Surface Studio 2 Plus, which is billed as "the ultimate creator's canvas." The new version is 5x more powerful than the original Surface Studio.
A zero-gravity hinge lets you adjust the position of the display. The task bar expands as you adjust the display (similar to what the Surface Pro 9 does when you detach the display).
We're getting a new graphic design app, Microsoft Designer, that's powered by AI. Microsoft Designer aims to create unique designs for you, using the DALL-E AI tool that creates images based on text.
Bing and Edge are getting integrated DALL-E support soon. In the case of Bing, that should improve image search.
"The next wave of computing is here right now," Panay says, wrapping up the event. "And we've created it for you."
So that's a lot to digest in a crisply-paced 38-minute presentation. If that rapid-fire product news has your head spinning, we can help you sort things out, starting with our look at the Microsoft Surface Pro 9.
Here's our look at the Surface Laptop 5, one of the other big announcements made during today's Microsoft event.
If there was a surprise at today's event, it would be the Surface Studio 2+, the latest version of Microsoft's all-in-one computer for creators. We've got all the Surface Studio 2+ details, including price, specs and features.
Tony Polanco is back from the Microsoft Surface Event where had the chance to go hands-on with the Surface Studio 2+ and gather some first impressions of the all-in-one desktop.
We've got more hands-on reports about the latest Microsoft gear from Tony Polanco. It's now time to see what kind of first impression the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 made on our computing writer.
We've pitted the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 vs Surface Pro 8 against each other to pick out what the biggest upgrades and differences are. And we chew over if the Surface 9 Pro is worth getting over or upgrading to from the Surface Pro 8.
As we conclude: "The biggest upgrade is probably the addition of a new ARM-based Surface Pro 9 packing Microsoft's new SQ3 chip. While it likely can't compete with its Intel-equipped sibling in terms of sheer horsepower, the fact that you can now get a Windows 11 tablet with a stylus, keyboard and 5G connectivity really makes the dream of a tablet that doubles as a productivity tool seem like stone-cold reality."
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