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Micrisoft Releases Loads of New Hardware in October

As the hardware launch month enters mid-October, three new hardware models in Microsoft's Surface product line were officially unveiled at a live event on the evening of October 12. At a time when the trend of combining hardware and software experience is popular and AI creation is in full swing, Microsoft also brought something different this time with Windows and Microsoft 365 services.


Surface 10 years of dedication, bringing 3 new hardware
This year is the 10th birthday of Microsoft Surface hardware and the 40th year of Windows PC. With the slogan of "transforming traditional keyboard and mouse interaction" to further expand the possibilities of human-computer interaction, Microsoft Chief Product Officer Panos Panay announced three Surface hardware one by one.

The first was the Surface Laptop 5, a notebook.

The Surface Laptop 5, powered by 12th generation Intel processors, finally comes in a new color for the Surface Laptop lineup: sage green, replacing the ice blue of the original 13.5-inch Surface Laptop 4 model.

The hardware remains the same as before, including a one-handed opening and closing screen, Windows Hello experience, a silent keyboard that feels great in the hand, the iconic 3:2 ratio PixelSense display ...... powered by Dolby Vision IQ, and Surface Laptop 5 also features an entertainment experience with sharper contrast as well.

The Surface Laptop 5 allows for two 4K displays to be attached at the same time, and with the help of the 12th generation processor, even the 13.5-inch model gets a nominal battery life of about 18 hours and a fast charge of 50 percent in half an hour.

In terms of ports, the Surface Laptop 5 also welcomes support for the Thunderbolt 4 standard, alongside a full-size USB-A and 3.5mm audio jack on the left side of the device, significantly raising the ceiling for data transfer capabilities. Combined with an upgraded matrix far-field dual microphone (Studio Mics) and a camera that can adjust exposure in any lighting environment, the Surface Laptop 5, with a 50 percent increase in overall performance over its predecessor, is also still a great player in the remote work and online meeting scenarios that have become so popular in recent years.

The pricing for the China version of Surface Laptop 5 has been announced. The 13.5-inch version starts at 8GB+256GB and is available in four color options: Bright Platinum, Elegant Black, Sandstone Gold and the new Sencha Green; the 15-inch version starts 8GB+256GB and is only available in two color options: Bright Platinum and Elegant Black.

The 2-in-1 product Surface Pro 9 was also unveiled at the event.

Even though the Surface Pro X has had three years of lukewarm market performance, Microsoft hasn't given up on this Windows on ARM product - at least in a way it's just "coming to fruition". This year, Microsoft has dropped the Surface Pro X as a standalone model and folded it into the Surface Pro 9 series.

As a result, the Surface Pro 9 series has two optional processor versions: a 12th generation Intel EVO processor with Thunderbolt 4 support and a Microsoft SQ 3 processor with 5G network connectivity. Unfortunately, the Surface with 6000-series Raider that was rumored before the event did not appear.

The ARM version of Surface Pro 9 has a new NPU built into the Microsoft SQ3 processor, with more than 15 trillion calculations per second allowing the NPU to natively implement some of the new AI features in Windows 11 on the computer, such as intelligent noise reduction, background blur, and subject tracking in Windows Studio Effect.

In addition to the 12th generation EVO processor and 5G support, the Surface Pro 9 does not have any major changes in hardware appearance, only a new color "Morino Green" like the Surface Laptop 5, narrow bezel, 120Hz refresh rate of the Pixel Sense Flow display also did not add rounded corners as everyone expected, so that the Surface Pro is more "full screen". The Surface Pro is a bit more "full-screen" than everyone expected.

Rather unexpectedly, Microsoft has teamed up with London-based Liberty Design this year to launch a co-branded version of the jewel-blue Surface Pro 9, with a tattooed aluminum body in addition to a fancy Alcantara wrist rest print.

In addition, the original Surface Slim Pen 2 can also invoke the built-in vibration unit to get a tactile simulation of writing on the screen in the famous note-taking app GoodNotes, which was previewed for the Windows platform at the event.

It should be noted that, similar to the Surface Pro X, the ARM version of the Surface Pro 9 is slightly lower than the Intel model in terms of maximum storage specifications: the Surface Pro 9 with the SQ 3 processor is only available up to 16GB + 512GB, while the Intel version maintains the same top-end i7 + 32GB + 1TB combination as its predecessor. The Intel version of the Surface Pro 9 is priced from 8GB + 128GB Bright Platinum, while the 5G version is not yet available.

Last but not least is the Surface Studio 2+ for creators.

The Surface Studio series has been focused on creative productivity since its introduction in 2016, and its iteration, Surface Studio 2, was released in 2018, 2 years later. The new product does not bring any substantial changes, but can only be considered a regular configuration update.

The Surface Studio 2+ still uses a 28-inch 3:2 PixelSense display, which provides the equivalent of four 14-inch displays side-by-side in a split screen state.

The screen supports 1 billion colors and automatic color management, which Microsoft claims is able to provide better gradient and color management, I wonder if it can break the curse of "Windows has no color management". It's a shame that such a beautiful screen is not used for watching movies, so the Surface Studio 2+ also supports Dolby Vision.

The "zero-gravity hinge" that the Surface Studio family is proud of remains fixed at any angle within a certain range, providing the perfect angle for creators. As a "Surface Studio device designed for Windows 11," the system adapts to the screen when used with Windows 11, automatically switching between desktop and touch layouts.

In terms of performance configuration, the CPU has been upgraded from the original 7th generation Intel i7 processor to the 11th generation i7 processor, and the GPU has been upgraded from GTX 1060/1070 to RTX 3060 Mobile Edition, which can provide users with more powerful rendering performance and ray tracing effects.

It's also worth mentioning that Surface Studio 2+ is finally equipped with USB-C specification USB 4.0/Thunderbolt 4 interface, like other new products, and it's still 3 tubes full. Thanks to this update, the Surface Studio 2+ can support up to three additional 4K@60Hz external screens (the previous generation could only support two 4K@30Hz or one 4K@60Hz screens), which will greatly enhance the experience whether it is used for office, creative work, gaming or stock trading.

The Surface Studio 2+ is also updated with Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, as well as a camera and far-field microphone matrix, and is priced at $4499.99 to be announced some time later.

Windows 11, now integrated with Apple Eco
Although Windows 11 2022 update has been launched in the early hours of September 21 this year, but Microsoft still left a few features, they are interspersed in the hardware release of this conference, a few for you to summarize the following.

Related reading: This year's only big update, Windows 11 "official" highlights quick overview

The first thing that attracted the most attention was the cross-ecological linkage with Apple.

With iCloud for Windows installed in the Microsoft Store, we can access images in the iCloud Photo Library directly from the Gallery app on Xbox and other Windows devices. I'm sure this is good news for many dual-playing Windows and iDevice users.

Of course the partnership with Apple goes far beyond iCloud photo integration, Apple Music and Apple TV will both be available on Windows next year, and Apple Music will be available on Xbox from now on.

Microsoft also brought a series of video conferencing-related optimizations to Windows 11, called Microsoft Studio effects, which include automatic character centering, background blurring of portraits, and eye contact correction to help us communicate better, more naturally, and with more focus with our colleagues during video conferences.

But Microsoft Studio effects may require specific chips with neural networks, such as the SQ3 mentioned above, so ordinary Windows computers may still not be able to enjoy these advanced effects.

To make meetings better, Microsoft also has two pieces of hardware, an upgraded Microsoft Presenter that supports switching between previous and next slides, switching between muted states, and quick access to Microsoft Team; and an audio docking station with speakers, including 1 HDMI, 1 full-featured USB- C, a USB-C data port, and a USB-A data port, the docking station also has a built-in microphone array to provide a high-quality calling environment at all times.

Features that have not been officially featured in the previous Windows 11 2022 update were also reintroduced in this release, including tabs in File Explorer, widget extension views, a close-to-touch layout optimized for touch interaction, support for recording screens with the Windows built-in screenshot tool, and support for system updates only on clean energy (system updates that can't be turned off can be saved).

The event also mentioned a number of Microsoft optimizations for people with disabilities, including accessibility features in the Quick Access Bar, real-time caption generation, voice control, and natural language reading. In addition to software optimizations, Microsoft also has new adaptive kits, adaptive kit accessories, and 3D-printed pen grips for people with disabilities to use Windows.

Finally, Microsoft also mentioned information related to Windows security, including Smart, an AI-based security tool that allows secure applications while blocking unsafe ones; Smart Program Control, which prevents the running of unsafe web scripts; and password-free login with Windows Hello, which reduces the attack surface of phishing sites, among others.

From writing to painting, from GPT-3 to the recent hits DALL-E and Stable Diffusion, AI's prowess in the creative field is growing by the day.
At the end of the event, Microsoft also showed us Microsoft Designer, a new graphic design tool for Microsoft 365 users based on cloud-based AI.


Microsoft AI and DALL∙E 2, which drive Microsoft Designer, are similar to previously seen AI authoring tools in that Microsoft Designer can generate images based on text descriptions entered by the user and can combine existing graphic material files to generate different design and layout suggestions.

From the demo video, the process of using Microsoft Designer is somewhat similar to the current PowerPoint "slide layout suggestions", in addition to image generation and layout suggestions, we can also customize the overall color style, font style and image size according to actual needs during the process.

Microsoft Designer is not yet officially live, so if you're interested, you can subscribe to the email notification at the official website. At the same time, Microsoft has also said it will bring Microsoft Designer features and experiences, including DALL∙E 2 integration, to the Edge browser and Bing Search through the Image Creator feature, which will not only further enhance search capabilities, but also provide creative tools that directly meet actual needs in addition to finding images. The official launch date for the Image Creator feature has not yet been announced.