Microsoft October 2019 Event Recap: Surface Neo, Surface Pro X and More

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft's big October event is in the books, delivering everything we expected and then some. The big standouts are the Surface Neo, Microsoft's long awaited foldable Surface device, as well as Duo, a full on foldable Android phone that could take on the Galaxy Fold.

The Surface Pro X leads the new Surface line with a super-slim design and always-on LTE connectivity, while the Surface Pro 7 and Laptop 3 bring some nice performance upgrades (and USB-C!) to two of the best laptops out there. Oh, and Microsoft is also launching the Surface Earbuds, a pair of $249 AirPods competitors that have high-tech features such as real-time translation packed into a funky looking design.

If you missed Microsoft's event, here are the big highlights. Be sure to also check out our liveblog archive below for the big announcements as they happened.

Microsoft October event highlights

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Microsoft October event live blog

11:30 am: And there's Satya to take us home. Some really genuine surprises here beyond the expected Surface refreshes. The Neo and Duo seem cool! Oh, and there's that Common commercial we've been seeing for forever. That's a wrap for us -- make sure to stay tuned to Tom's Guide for our hands-on impressions of everything at the show!

11:21 am: Panos is having his "one more thing moment." We see a trailer of a woman using Neo, only to take... another, smaller Neo out of her bag! The foldable Surface Phone is real, and it's called Surface Duo.  

Microsoft's folding phone runs Android, and looks like it's coming directly for the troubled Galaxy Fold's lunch money. It kind of looks like a 3DS when used in folding mode. This should get interesting.

11:18 am: Neo is arriving in Holiday 2020. I'm kind of nervous about how much it'll cost. Will it be the one foldable you need?

11:13 am: Now onto the software. Surface Neo is powered by a new version of Windows 10 dubbed Windows 10X, which is built for dual-screen devices. You can easily drag an app from one screen to the other using the "spanning" feature, which can automatically adjust programs for one-screen or two. 

The software can automatically adjust for your orientation too, flipping two apps from portrait to landscape at once. Once you flip the keyboard up, you get a second screen experience called the "wonder bar," which provides easy access to things such as emojis, a inking sketchpad and a fully functioning touchpad. 

11:10 am: Some other quick specs. Each section of the Neo is 5.6mm thin. It weighs just 655 grams, and is protected by Gorilla Glass. There's a really fancy 360-degree hinge that allows the two screens to line up and function as one. Panay says it's like "using the force" when the keyboard shows up.

11:06 am: The foldable Surface is finally here: meet Surface Neo. As the rumors suggested, this thing has two separate screens that fold together, as well as a magnetic attachment for the Surface Pen. But wait, there's more! On top of using the Neo as two displays, you can also fold in an attached keyboard and use part of the second screen as a Touch Bar-like complimentary display. That got a lot of "oohs" and "ahhs" from us.

"Should I even talk?" said Panay after the trailer. Nah, you're good, dude.

10:51 am: We're all cracking up at how pumped up Panos is about the Surface Slim Pen. He's talking really fast. But the new pen seems neat, packing better latency and tilt. The Type Cover also appears to be improved. 

We're also seeing a bunch of new Adobe Creative Cloud tools optimized for Surface Pro X, including Fresco, an application designed to let you create lifelike paintings. In a demo, we see just how natural each stroke and line looks, regardless of how zoomed in you are. This would be a really cool feature for me if I could draw.

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10:41 am: Surface Pro X! This thing looks super light, and has a neat little Surface Pen holder right above the keyboard. That 13-inch 2880 x 1920 display looks really nice, and it packs a custom Microsoft SQ1 chipset (based on Qualcomm Snapdragon) for constant LTE connectivity. Panay says that the Pro X offers three times the performance per watt of the Surface Pro 6, with much better battery life in a thinner design. 

The Pro X also uses some software magic to allow you to make truer eye contact during a video chat. Cool and a bit creepy. 

10:34 am: The rumors are true: Surface Earbuds are here! As our staff writer Kate Kozuch pointed out, these things look like pop sockets that go in your ears. Our war room are not fans.

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Each bud has a directional dual mic array built to pick up your voice and not background noise. The buds have a 20-hour battery, and let you adjust your music playback entirely with gestures so you never have to take out your phone. Here's the coolest part: you can speak in any of 60+ languages and have your words automatically translated to text. These high tech, funky looking buds will sell for $239.

10:24 am: Surface Pro time. Panay calls it the "sexiest form factor out there." I think he's biased. We're seeing a video about how the Surface Pro was able to allow an artist to continue to create after suffering from paralysis, thanks to her ability to more easily sketch and write on the 2-in-1's screen. 

Microsoft's Robin Seiler led with what we all wanted to hear: Surface Pro is getting USB-C! The crowd popped. Lots of talk about new Edge features like Collections. But what about the hardware? Seiler just transitioned to stand mode and started marking up items in her Collections with her pen. She's also showing off the new ability to make inline edits and comments with the Surface Pro. 

The Your Phone app will now integrate with your Surface, so you too will be able to ignore your spouse's calls from your PC, like Seiler did on stage (to be fair, she's pretty busy right now). 

The Surface Pro 7 is up for pre-order today, and starts at $749.

10:18 am: Time to talk performance. The Laptop 3's Ice Lake chip promises "incredible performance," according to Panay, delivering three times the power of the MacBook Air. This guy loves dunking on Apple, and I'm here for it. He's talking up the 15-inch display, calling it "pixel-free." 

The laptop's AMD Ryzen: Surface Laptop Edition is AMD's fastest mobile chip yet, promising the best graphics performance in the Laptop 3's class. And yes, Panay made the requisite "playing Fortnite with my kids" reference. Oh and fast charging with 80% charge in under an hour? Sign us up.

The Surface Laptop 3 is available for pre-order now, with the 13-inch model starting at $999 and the 15-inch starting at $1,1199. They drop on Oct. 22.

10:11 am: Finally, time for some products! Starting with Surface Laptop 3. It's got a 10th gen Intel CPU, a 20 percent larger touchpad, a machined aluminum finish and both USB-A and USB-C connections (finally!). Bye bye, Alacantara. The system also has a removable hard drive and will come in AMD Ryzen variations. 

"What makes this product special is what you can't see," said Panay. "It's the feeling you get." He's boasting about the 1.3mm keyboard, once more referencing his daughter's piano playing. I have to admit, seeing how easy it is to pop the top of the keyboard deck off to replace the hard drive is pretty impressive. 

10:05 am: Here's Panos Panay! Fired up as always and talking about the history of Surface. We're watching a video of his daughter playing piano, because there's a deep metaphor in there about her having the perfect instrument for her (just like we have our Surfaces!). A little corny, but sweet. Also, is that Trevor Noah up in the front row? 

10:00 am: We're live and Satya Nadella is on stage. He's talking about how all of the new Microsoft products remind him of getting his first computer, the ZX Spectrum. "That sense of wonder and the empowerment I felt is what I always go back to," he said. "Today's event is about continuing that journey." He also namedropped HoloLens. That thing still exists? 

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9:43 am: And we're in! Microsoft seems to have its loyal fans up front (the Surface has those?) so we're stuck in the back.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

9:07 am: As promised, here's a look at the tasty breakfast Microsoft is serving. And hey, look, Joe Osborne from TechRadar and Andrew Freedman from Tom's Hardware are here! 

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

9:00 am: We've arrived at the Starrett-Lehigh building! Already a big line of tech journalists starting to form, eager to see what surfaces in a few hours (see what I did there?). It's a little cramped in here.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

8:00 am: We're on our way to Brooklyn! Stay tuned for pictures of the venue, which will assuredly contain delicious breakfast pastries and big, big crowds of excited tech writers.

7:30 am: A last-minute leak from noted tipster Evan Blass shows the Surface Pro 7, Surface Laptop 3 and all-new Surface 7 in all their glory. The Pro 7 could finally get the USB-C port we've been waiting for, while the Laptop 3 may come in an AMD variation. Not much is known about the Surface 7 yet, but it seems like Microsoft's answer to the iPad Pro. 

Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.