Earlier this year saw the unveiling of Windows 10, Microsoft’s latest operating system. Reviews have, on the whole, been positive, with business and consumer commentators pointing to the various improvements on its predecessors and the opportunities afforded by its universal connectivity. This week, Microsoft made their official announcement, declaring he launch of the Surface Pro 4. Available for pre-order from October 7th and going on sale October 26th, the Pro 4 is set to become the first Surface device to be preinstalled with Windows 10. To date, almost every Surface device has been an improvement on what went before and, after the well-publicized commercial success of the Surface Pro 3 and Surface 3, businesses and consumers alike will be interested to see whether Microsoft can pull off the same trick again.
Back in August when the rumours were flying, Kensington took a look at what was expected of the 4 and now that the details have been announced, it’s time to see which elements of those expectant specifications have proven true…
The Surface Pro 4 Rumour Mill
Of course, there are plenty of rumours about the kind of changes Microsoft will make to the Surface Pro 4. For example, there is general agreement that there will be changes to the CPU, with Microsoft following Apple’s lead by introducing the Intel Core M ‘Broadwell’ CPU, which could mean the Surface Pro 4 will be thinner than previous models and, more significantly, that it’ll be fanless. Another rumour that has attracted attention is the prospect of a larger, 14” screen for the Surface Pro 4, complementing the smaller screen size of the Surface 3.
This prediction is certainly consistent with a major trend in the tech industry, namely, the increasing diversification of the tablet market. Paired with the arrival of a universal operating system, the ever-growing range of tablet devices could have a significant impact on the shape of business networks and computer ecosystems in the future.
A Fanless Future?
Intel’s new Core M processor has attracted a good deal of attention online. Initially designed for the consumer market, the Core M’s unique selling point is that, because it consumes less power, it is able to offer users longer battery life and lighter, fanless devices, without compromising on performance. Doubts remain, however, about the merits of fanless technology, with some users complaining of overheating and subsequent throttling. Reviewers and early adopters of the Surface Pro 4 will be interested to see if Microsoft are able to overcome such problems.
Windows 10: Universal Apps and Continuum
Windows 10 appears to represent a significant step towards an interconnected, multi-device operating device, which will run smoothly on the Surface Hub, PCs, tablets and cellphones. Free updates are supplemented by ‘universal’ apps, downloadable from the Windows Store. The population of the Windows Store with more traditional desktop programs, and its use for this purpose, appears to offer a viable way of overcoming the perceived shortcomings of this service. Following the arrival of Windows 10 smartphones, it will be possible to use Continuum to switch phones in and out of desktop mode, something which is potentially very useful for business users.
Productivity and Procurement
When combined with anticipated performance upgrades, the arrival of an additional screen size for the Surface Pro 4 opens up the possibility that it will support the kind of processor-intensive tasks, such as video editing, that are currently beyond the Surface Pro 3; perhaps realizing the Surface’s potential as a laptop killer. The availability of another different screen size raises questions for corporate IT departments and consumers alike. With rumours of a Surface Mini, are Microsoft making a strong case for consumer ownership of multiple of Surface devices?
Ultimately, Microsoft will be hoping that the Surface Pro 4 is as popular with enterprise users as its predecessor. And, from a business perspective, it has to be said that the signs are encouraging. For example, the universality of Windows 10 could simplify the procurement and provisioning of devices, as well as facilitating the synching of workflows and sharing of documents. Indeed, making consumerization and BYOD work for business, may hold the key to the success of the Surface Pro 4.
Although perhaps not completely accurate, the rumored specifications weren’t far off. Kensington’s next venture is to look into exactly how this is going to help businesses and whether the upgrade is on track to increase productivity in the office.