Surface Pro 4 Specs, Availability, Peripherals, Models & Pricing

Here’s a breakdown of what I know so far:

Surface Pro 4

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  • Continuous kickstand
  • No LTE/modem capable models
  • Designed for Windows 10, not Windows 8.1

General availability:

  • The US and Canada can get their hands on Surface Pro 4 on October 26th.
  • Everyone else will have to wait – For example the UK & Germany (and some other big markets) is November 12th and others will wait until November 19th. Check your local online Microsoft Store (some localised sites still have no mention of the new devices, e.g. Ireland).

Using the customizer on the US Microsoft store, the following models were available to me:

  • Intel Core M, 4 GB RAM, 128 GB storage, $899
  • Intel Core i5, 4 GB RAM, 128 GB storage, $999
  • Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB storage, $1,299
  • Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, 512 GB storage, $1,699
  • Intel Core i5, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB storage, $1,899
  • Intel Core i7, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB storage, $1,599
  • Intel Core i7, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB storage, $1,799
  • Intel Core i7, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB storage, $2,199
  • Intel Core i7, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB storage, $2,699

The New Touch Cover

  • Backlit keys
  • 40% larger trackpad
  • Compatible with Surface Pro 4 and Surface Pro 3
  • Colours: Black, blue, bright blue, red, teal, onyx (dark grey)

There are two prices:

  • The normal ones are $129.99
  • The onyx one features Fingerprint ID scanner for Windows Hello and costs $159.99 – this model is aimed at giving Windows Hello to Surface Pro 3 users because the Surface Pro 4 offers facial recognition.

The new Surface Pen

  • Aluminium
  • 1024 levels of pressure with
  • 1 year rechargeable battery
  • Compatible with Surface Pro 4, Surface Pro 3 and Surface book

The new Surface Dock

  • Compatible with Surface Pro 4, Surface pro 3, and Surface Book
  • 2 Mini DisplayPorts
  • 1 Gigabit Ethernet port
  • 4 USB 3.0 ports
  • 1 Audio out port
  • 5.12 x 2.36 x 1.18 in (130 x 60 x30 mm)
  • $199.99

Mini-Display Port adapters

  • 2 models: To-VGA and to-HA AV adapters
  • Compatible with Surface Pro 4, Surface Pro 3, and Surface Book
  • $39.99

Windows 10 Devices Launch

Microsoft is launching Surface Pro 4, the Lumia 950 & 950 XL phones, Band 2, and maybe more. Read on – here’s my live blog of the event.

Already, thanks to a snafu by Microsoft, we know the specs of the new Lumia flagship handsets:

Lumia 950

We also know that there will be a dock for these handsets to leverage Windows 10 Mobile’s Continuum feature, basically turning your phone into a desktop device with a monitor and Bluetooth keyboard and mouse.

The Surface Pro 4 is expected to be an evolution of the Surface Pro 3 (which is defeating tablet trends by increasing sales quite a bit year on year), and now Microsoft has copped on and started sales through the partner channel.

Questions I have:

  • Will the phones be sold unlocked through the channel if business is the intended market, as we suspect (Continuum)?
  • Will Surface Pro 4 offer Hello, and if so will it be fingerprint or camera (the phone uses an Iris scan)?
  • Will Microsoft announce something else, maybe a bigger Surface or a laptop?
  • Will Joe Belfiore continue to try to convince us that the Surface is “lap-able”?
  • Will they have a new cool demo of HoloLens?
  • Will there be a demo of Windows 10 on Xbox One?
  • Will the challenge the Wallstreet Journal reporter (a big Apple fan) to take home and use a Surface again?

We do know that Windows 10 head honcho, Terry Myerson, is feeling confident:

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Stay tuned and we’ll find out more …

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Before the Show

Petri Executive Editor, Brad Sams, isn’t impressed by the wi-fi at the venue in downtown New York – so it’s no different to any recent Microsoft conference:

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Paul Thurrott isn’t impressed either. Seriously, if you’re going to invite the tech press to a live event then don’t you want them to communicate about what your are showing?

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The Intro

Here we go … it’s all about “moments” … “we live in one of those moments”. “Let’s inspire. Create new experiences and new possibilities. Let’s empower everyone to go further. To do great things. Changing how we touch. ”. And the stream died. Sorry.

Microsoft should look into building a cloud scale data center facility with content delivery networks and media streaming … oh … Seriously, why the frak do they use 3rd party streaming services?

Terry Myerson

Following Twitter, after 10 weeks there are 110 million activated Windows 10 machines. 8 million business PCs running Windows 10. There have been 1.25 billion Store visits on Windows 10. Devs making 4 times more money. Facebook is building new universal apps for Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger.

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New devices are the next chapter of Windows 10. Features like Cortana and Continuum are software + hardware, Windows 10 + new hardware. Today is the “start” of that next generation hardware (MSFT is doing cooperative launches with OEMs in the coming weeks).

All Xbox One machines will get Windows 10. Some special editions and the pricey gaming controller coming for Christmas.

HoloLens

Next up HoloLens. They want to show us something different that they’ve developed internally … mixed reality gaming on HoloLens:

Turn every room into your house into a video game level. They show us Project X-Ray, he’s going to defend the stage from an alien invasion.

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He has a wearable hologram – a hologram you can hold. FRAK!

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Spatial sound so you can use sound/direction. The robots know the room and use it. Me want!

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Starting today they are taking registrations for the developer kit, costing $3000 and shipping in Q1 2016.

That’s the audience warmed up.

Microsoft Band 2

Eh. The new prison band from the future from a movie of the past. Sorry, I’m checking my Twitter feed and checking my mail. At $249 it’s the same price as the top end FitBit – you can pre-order today. Hard to win against a brand like that if you’re the same price, even if you have more features.

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Surface & Lumia

Surface is worth 3.5 billion dollars per year. Now on to Panos Panay, the new leader of the entire devices family.

Panos Panay

He feels blessed – HoloLens has him and the crowd excited – how new for a devices event at Microsoft!!!

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Lumia

The Lumia 950 family:

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Two antennas in the handsets to get “always on connectivity”. They will give you the best connection they can find. 950 5.2” is a hex core and the 950 5.7” XL is a octo core CPU. Liquid cooling was added from Surface to make these phones as powerful/productive as possible.

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He is blowing through the specs – “you guys wrote about this already” and jokes with the media in the room.

He’s pushing the Windows 10 piece of the phones and how it uses the OLED to show info without unlocking the phone.

The camera is next (Lumia heritage). Triple LED natural flash (“no redye” and true colour). 20 MP sensor with Zeiss PureView lens. Optical stabiliser. And the usual dedicated camera button.

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He’s a stickler for the little design details. He pushes the button (natural reflex)- 4K video, which goes straight to the cloud.

32 GB storage with SD expansion up to 256 GB, and it will support 2 TB when it eventually comes out – wow!

The connector is USB type C to support 5 Gbps transfers. In less than 30 minutes you get more than 50% charge – great in the morning when you forgot to charge it and you can get it topped up while getting ready.

All this power and cooling and Windows 10 … the phone is a PC. Office, Skype, OneDrive, Edge, … it’s the same package that you’ll use on your PC. Continuum baby.

Bryan Roper

Hello is blowing his mind and making some noise.

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Unlocking the phone: you just look at it – the Hello beta.

The Microsoft Display Port is shown – how you connect the phone to your monitor, keyboard and mouse.

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The phone is docked, and the start screen of the phone is the start menu on the desktop. He starts using Office and Outlook, using it with a mouse and keyboard. Welcome to the future.

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The navigation experience is consistent with the desktop. He app switches, etc. He lifts the phone and he can still do all the phone stuff (texting, etc). Universal apps can scale between screen sizes (phone and monitor).

He does some productivity stuff, like editing a Word doc, copies a table, does Alt-Tab, goes to PowerPoint and pastes a table. It’s the same as the PC, just with the universal app version of Office.

The Display Dock supports removable media such as a USB stick. He inserts one with pictures on it and browses the photos on the monitor via the phone.

He has full audio and 1080p. He plays the Jurassic World trailer on the big screen with surround sound in the theatre. And that’s coming from the phone.

Panos Panay

Back on stage to wrap up. The 950 is $549 and and the 950 XL is $649.

Surface

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They want to make these the most productive devices on the planet. Surface Pro 3 has grown. We’ve seen this (as distributors to resellers). There’s a video of a small CAD/CAM business using Surface to it’s potential (touch, pen, CPU, mobility).

“Competitors are chasing it; it’s pretty cool”.

Do they double down and bring the thunder? Yup. Thunderstruck.

6th generation Intel SkyLake CPU that is 50% faster than the MacBook Air. Up to 16 GB RAM and 1 TB storage. It’s Surface Pro 4. Thinnest Core PC ever shipped. 12.3” diagonal screen (by reducing the size of the bezel so it’s the same size device). 267 PPI screen – 5 million pixels on screen, keeping the screen the best in the biz, IMO.

PixelSense technloogy. 0.4 mm gorilla glass. 1.1mm backlight. Custom chipset called G5 made by Microsoft. Takes the optical stack and brings “best pen & touch experience on any product”.

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The pen has an eraser on the back. He jokes that there’s a pencil out there without an eraser, sorry Apple! 1024 levels of pressure. 1 year of battery life in the pen – rechargables break the flow of productivity. The pen connects to the Surface via a magnet by the looks of it – no loop required.

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Office & OneNote are integrated. You can quickly launch OneNote and copy content to OneNote using clicks on the pen. An attempted Cortana demo tries to show off the new Microsoft Store in Manhattan – he doesn’t get a spoken result and looks like he was stumped for a second, before recovering.

Inter-changeable pen tips are being introduced. You can select a tip that suits how you work – pencil, ballpoint pen, felt-tip pen, etc.

Surface Pro 4 is 30% faster than the Pro 3. He compares it to the MacBook Air – 50% faster than the Apple.

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They stopped thinning the device at 8.4mm so there’s still a USB port there! They demo the Surface Pro docking station – it also supports Surface Pro 3. Four USB 3.0 connectors, 2 x 4k display ports, Ethernet. It looks more like a hub, moving away from the big docking station of the past.

There is a new Surface Pro Type Cover. It is lighter, thinner, and stronger. There is a “pro key set” moving away from the older type keyset. This is also compatible with the Surface Pro 3. The touch pad is 40% larger.

On to Windows Hello:

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He shows how his kids use Windows Hello on a Surface to get a unique experience for each of them. Parents will love this. There’s a finger print reader on the keyboard.

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The front facing camera appears to support Windows Hello. The starting price is 899. You can pre-order now and it’s available on October 26th.

Catch the promo video on YouTube:

Surface Laptop

Oh yeah – I want this.

“We made the ultimate laptop – we made Surface Book”.

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It’s … grey.

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13.5” diagonal screen. 6 mp. 267 DPI. Pixel Sense. It has a pen and touch experience. Optically bonded screen. Top quality visuals. The typing experience was a big deal for them.

He jokes that we laughed about lap-ability. The typing is quiet. 1.6mm of travel – they’re using their 20+ years of keyboard experience. The trackpad is optimised by the Windows 10 team – it’s made of glass. 5 points of touch on the screen.

12 hours of battery. GDDR5 memory. Tuned NVIDIA GForce GPU – tuning via XBox team. This thing “is for the game than plays League of Legends”. This is not a $200 laptop. This is the “fastest 13 inch laptop ever made”. And remember – 12 hours of battery.

How does it compare to a MacBook Pro? It’s 2 times faster than the MacBook Pro. The Surface Dock also works with the Surface Book – one chord (the Surface Connector). He copies 3 GB of data from a drive to the desktop in around 3 seconds. They then show Gears of War playing on the Surface Book – It looks smooth. Some movie editing in Premier Pro – it’s happy doing it with full GPU rendering and no glitches.

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They start with a case and machine it to 10s of microns – every Surface is unique because of this manufacturing process.

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2 USB , SD, backlit keyboard.

Starts at $1,499, available for pre-order now, and also out on October 26th.

“We are relentless … and we can’t just stop”.

Surface Pro 4 was about bringing the thunder. This product is about reinventing categories. We re-watch the Surface Book video. Ah – the tablet undocks from the keyboard – and can be docked backwards. The Surface Book is a convertible, not a traditional laptop!!!!!

It weights 1.6 Lbs. It is 7.7mm thin. It is modelled on the A4 page for a natural feel. The expandability (USB etc) is in the keyboard. The GPU is in the base.

Muscle Wire is used instead of levers and clicks to lock in the screen. You simply pull off the screen from the base. It’s some sort of clever electrical charge thing.

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Catch the Surface Book on YouTube:

Satya Nadella

Out comes the CEO.

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“We’re making great progress” with the vision they shared in January. This is by far the fastest adoption of a Windows release. A new chapter of Windows 10 is beginning with new devices built for Windows 10 by Microsoft and partners – a new era of more personal computing that focuses on mobility of experience where  you persist, not the device. No single device will be your hub forever – you are the hub so your apps, settings and data need to be mobile with you. This is why they built Windows 10 they way it is, a unified platform for people, developers and IT, on devices from the Raspberry Pi to the HoloLens.

They aren’t just building h/w for h/w’s sake. They consider new forms and functions simultaneously. They plan to invent new personal computers and new personal computing.

Microsoft is now building the most productive phone on the planet. And lots of caring, and envisioning, and … they should have wrapped up on a demo high IMO.

But overall – this was a very successful launch. I need to get our Surface manager to organise me some *cough* demo stock.

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First Impressions – Intel Compute Stick

A nice little gadget appeared on my desk at work today: An Intel Compute Stick. Here are my first impressions of this device.

Available at:

So what is an Intel Compute Stick? It’s a teeny tiny PC designed to plug into a HDMI display (monitor or TV). The device runs full blown Windows 8.1 (with Bing) on an x86 CPU (64-bit instruction set according to the spec page). It sets up just like a normal PC, and runs programs and apps like a normal PC. Think of it as an x86 Windows tablet without a monitor (hence the HDMI port). The device is powered by USB (phone lead) – I found that the supplied lead and DC power adapter were required because the Sony TV I tried it with didn’t output enough power.

IntelComputeStick

Intel Compute Stick turns HDMI devices into PCs [Image credit: Intel][/caption]The device has a number of ports:

  • USB 2.0: Required to set up the machine and pair a Bluetooth (4.0) keyboard and mouse (the eventual devices you’ll use to interact with the Stick)
  • Micro-SD: Add on up to 128 GB of storage to supplement in internal 32 GB (18.9 GB free)
  • Power

The device spec:

  • Quad-core 1.3GHz Intel Atom Z3735F – no EPT so you won’t run Client Hyper-V or WS2016 Hyper-V on here
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 32 GB storage (18.9 GB free)
  • WiFi 802.11bgn

IntelComputeStickSpec

The spec of the Intel Compute Stick [Image credit: Intel][/caption]Setting the machine up was tricky because it did require a USB keyboard. I had fun because I tried to set it up while it “drew” power from the TV and eventually it died. Rebooting it on DC power lead to a loop of repair modes, so a keyboard was required to navigate the options. There is no Bluetooth pairing button, so I set up the eventual peripherals using Settings in Windows. After that, it was Windows 8.1 as usual. The machine is not going to be confused with Alienware, but it is fast enough for what it’s intended for: light usage and media streaming. I streamed HD videos over wireless and it handled it well enough.

Let’s not be foolish here; the Intel Compute Stick will not replace the family PC. However, if you’re like me, and you like to have a “PC” connected to your TV (MiraCast suffers audio/video timing issues), then here’s another option (not the only one). What I would like to try is presenting (monitor in the conference room or HDMI projector) with this device instead of using the wireless display adapter.

[Update]

A next-gen version of the Intel Compute Stick will feature:

  • Intel Core M processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 64GB of SATA storage
  • USB 3.0
  • 802.11ac WiFi
  • Support for 4K displays
  • MHL (draw power from TV via USB)
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Presenting Using Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter

Yesterday was the first time that I came “this close” to my prefect presenting peripherals setup. I’ve wanted to be able to present from a tablet without the tether of a VGA or HDMI cable for years but it has never been possible. I have tried various things, but none worked out … either the performance sucked, the screen resolution was too low, or it just flat-out didn’t work at all.

Then came along Miracast, powered by hardware and enabled in Windows 8.1 with no drivers required. Last year Microsoft launched the Wireless Display Adapter (Amazon.com, Amazon UK). This is a dongle that plugs into HDMI capable TVs and projectors, and is powered by USB (from the display device or direct from power). I picked one up last November in the USA, and my employer just started distributing them to resellers (not direct via retail) in Ireland.

Previous to yesterday, I have been using my dongle to project ripped video and Netflix to the TV. It works perfectly, sending video and audio to the TV. There are times when I work from home when I’m sitting on the couch working on my laptop while video streams to the TV. And in theory, I could even use the TV as a second monitor! And yes, I’ve even used the TV for rehearsing presentations.

But yesterday was the first time that I presented using Miracast via the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter. I brought along a cheap Windows tablet with Office installed and the dongle was plugged into a nice HDMI ready projector, and power came direct from a socket. The tablet connected flawlessly. However, PowerPoint killed the tablet … 1 GB RAM is just not enough. I ended up using my KIRAbook to present … wirelessly. It was nice to set up in the room where I wanted to be instead of behind a podium. Sure I would have liked to have roamed … but it was not to be.

Anyway, next time, I’ll have a Toshiba Encore that has 2 GB RAM and I’ve verified that PowerPoint will work on. And that will allow me to roam, using presenter mode on the tablet and have my notes in front of me.

FYI: the dongle works really well. But we have a Sony display (a TV without a tuner) at work that we cannot get dongles to work with. Everything else has worked fine.

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No Prompt To Connect To Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter

My quest to be able to present wirelessly via Windows 8.1 Miracast from a tablet continued. When at the MVP Summit in early November I ordered a Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter from the Microsoft Store (the brick and mortar store in Bellevue had none).

A few weeks ago I tried the device with a large Sony display TV that we have in the boardroom at work. The dongle is powered via USB – the intention is that you plug this into any available USB port in the TV. The dongle connects to the TV via HDMI. That’s easy to connect up and it only takes the device a few seconds to power up. It prompted me to connect my device.

So I tried my Toshiba KIRAbook. And then I tried my Lenovo Yoga. Both have compatible processors. And neither could connect. I had two symptoms:

  • The Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter did not appear in the device search results
  • If I could see the device to connect to it, I was not prompted with a PIN to confirm the connection and it would time out.

I thought I had a dud device – and me being back in Ireland would make a return impossible. I knew it wasn’t a regional issue because I know of a company in Ireland using one and MVP Didier Van Hoye confirmed that his one is working.

So I gave up … sort of. Today I had time (finally) to test it out again. This time I connected the USB port to a phone power adapter and plugged it straight into an electrical outlet. The HDMI port went into a TV. And then I tested with:

  • Toshiba Encore 8” Windows 8.1 tablet
  • Toahiba KIRAbook

And the connection worked. Right now, Family Guy (Netflix USA) is streaming video and audio to the TV from the KIRAbook.

So the problem is (I believe) that not all TVs output enough power via their USB port to adequately meet the needs of the dongle. The solution is to power the dongle directly from an electrical socket.

Lenovo Might Launch Windows 8.1 Version of Yoga Tablet

I love my Lenovo Yoga 8, an 8” Android tablet. It’s what keeps me sane while travelling, it’s my bedside reading machine, and it’s my “couch” machine for those evenings when I’m “meerkatting” in front of the TV.

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That’s why I was excited to see a story on WPCentral that thinks maybe that Lenovo might launch a Windows 8.1 version of one of the Yoga tablets (there is also a 10” version).

The Android tablet is ARM based – a low power ARM CPU. If Lenovo are releasing a Windows tablet in this form factor then I hope it is Intel-based and not ARM; ARM would require the soon-to-be-extinct Windows RT.

The original story on HDBlog.it (in Italian) thinks that this might be based on the 10.1” HD+ tablet, a larger cersion of my 8” entertainment and consumption machine, also with crazy long battery life and a built-in mini-kickstand.

WPCentral says that Lenovo has an announcement on Windows and Android tablets on October 9th. We won’t have long to see if this rumour is a fact.

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Windows 10 Is The Next Version of Windows

There’s no Windows 9. It’s called Windows 10. I know there’s got to be a story behind this, probably one that we’ll never here, and probably related to a change in management, and possibly direction.

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Thank frak they did not call it “Windows” or “Windows One”, both of which were teased during the event.

You can see a video of Windows 10 in action here:

Not much was shown that we didn’t already know about. This is a very early build. I think this in conjunction with the skip of Windows 9, suggests to me that there was a re-planning quite late in the process.

The technical preview (a very early build) is out tomorrow (Oct 1st). Join the Windows Insiders program to get your hands on this, probably unstable and frequently updated, build and contribute feedback.

The goal of this build is to show that Windows 7 users can move to Windows 10, like moving from a Prius to a Tesla without re-learning to drive.

The only mention of Windows Server Threhsold was that the preview will be out after the release of the Windows 10 preview.

On the schedule of Windows 10:

  • Tech preview on Oct 1st
  • Consumer preview in early 2015
  • GA in mid-late 2015 … further convincing me that there was a re-start on planning because we originally thought RTM would be around April 2015

Joe Belfiore will be one of the keynote speakers at TechEd Europe. I think we’ll hear much more then regarding enterprise features.

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EDIT #1

Microsoft released a recording of today’s event. Why oh why could they live stream this over Azure if they were going to even bother having cameras there?

EDIT#2

Another video was released, showing the concept of Continuum, the adaptive UI experience for convertible devices.

Windows “Threshold” (9) Press Conference Today – And I’m Concerned

Today in San Francisco, Microsoft is doing their first official unveiling of Windows codename Threshold, otherwise known as Windows 9 or Windows vNext.

Supposedly, this event was to be the enterprise unveiling. Enterprise customers are an important market for Microsoft; that’s because business decision makers have opted to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7, and not Windows 8/8.1, effectively choosing to make Windows 7 the next XP – a legacy OS that will exit mainstream support next year. Microsoft supposedly wants enterprises to try Windows Threshold early, and submit feedback, so that, supposedly, Microsoft will engineer the product based on feedback.

I used a lot of “supposedly’s” there, didn’t I? If I wanted to get enterprise customers interested then I would stream the unveiling live on the Internet, and not have a private press event where most of the invitees haven’t the foggiest about what enterprise customers want. It just does not make sense to me.

I wonder what value the event really has. It’s not a launch – that will likely be TechEd Europe on October 28th. The preview is not out until October. Don’t expect to hear a whisper of Windows Server or System Center for another month and a half. And come tonight, I doubt we’ll hear about anything in the Windows client OS that we do not already know – a lot of the GUI features were leaked months ago. I wonder if this event is actually Microsoft’s attempt to take control of the messaging.

There are two remaining questions:

  • Will this be a free upgrade? Enterprise customers usually have software assurance so that’s irrelevant to them. That’s more of a question for SMEs and consumers. Today is allegedly all about enterprises so I doubt we’ll hear anything.
  • What will they call it? Anything other than Windows 9 is a failure. It is rumoured that Windows Threshold will be the start of a more rapid release program, like you get with mobile devices. For enterprises: that would be hellish. Nice for consumers. It is also rumoured that Microsoft will simply call it “Windows”. Dumb! Dumb! Dumb! How is an enterprise to support something that changes frequently and has no obvious version number?

I really hope a lot of these rumours are wrong. Otherwise we’ll be contemplating Windows burning while Nadella plays his “cloud first, mobile first” fiddle.

We’ll be watching the tweets of Mary Jo Foley & Paul Thurrott, and the live blog on the Verge to find out what’s been discussed in San Francisco later this afternoon.

New Microsoft Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse

Microsoft just announced a bunch of new peripherals, including the new Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse. I still have the original Arc mouse, which I’ve loved for the many years that I’ve had it. In case you don’t know – I really like Microsoft’s mice and keyboards, especially their substantial mice for desktop computers.

I just picked up the new Arc Touch mouse that is Bluetooth (4.0 low power) capable (working for a distributor has it’s benefits!). The fold-to-flat award-winning design is a space saver. It auto powers off the mouse, powered by 2 x AAA batteries. And it’s light. It paired straight away with my Windows 8.1 Toshiba KIRAbook, and the touch strip works nicely with the touch interface in Windows – there’s also a slightly audible scrolling noise to simulate a wheel movement with physical feedback. It’s working well on a wooden desk with no mouse mat.

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Hopefully this new Arc mouse will last me as long as the last one has!

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Playing With A New Low Spec Windows Tablet

I visited my employer’s stands at the Retail Trade Show in Dublin this week. I already knew most of the stuff there, but I got to put my hands on one of the new ultra-low spec Windows 8.1 “Update 1” tablets. ICYMI, the April 2014 Update for Windows 8.1 enables OEMs to sell lower spec machinery.

For example, a Windows install is much smaller. That means you can sell a Windows tablet, and that’s x86 Windows, not Windows RT, with 16 GB of storage.

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And the machine can have just 1 GB RAM.

The machine I played with was a Win’Tab8. I don’t know who the manufacturer was (I think they were French) and I’m not in the office to find out more info. It was an 8” yellow tablet. Thin and light as one would expect. And I believe it was quite cheap (maybe sub €200).

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This tablet did have 16 GB storage, micro-SD expansion, an Intel Atom 4-core CPU, and 1 GB RAM. There was a micro USB port and a dedicated power socket (I like that!). I don’t know what the battery life is like. Just over 4 GB of the storage was free. The RAM was under pressure; while I’m OK with the small amount of storage for a consumption machine (I hope MSFT embraces expansion storage like on Android), I am not sold on tablets with less than 2 GB RAM. The demo machine was not logged in with a Microsoft ID so I couldn’t install something from the Store. But I played around and it seemed to perform pretty well.

Expect to see these kinds of low spec/price Windows tablets in retail stores in the coming months.

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