ACCORDING TO A new book on the history of Microsoft's Surface development, the company has plenty of ideas in its future roadmap for the product line. The Surface book - not to be confused with the Surface Book - outlines a number of possible avenues Microsoft may be taking in 2019 and beyond.
In Brad Sams' Beneath A Surface, the writer mainly focuses on the history of Microsoft's hybrid hardware, charting its beginnings as a $900 million write-down to being a multi-million dollar business today. But there are a few signs of what we might expect in the future, all things being equal.
Most exciting of these is a modular Surface Studio. The giant all-in-one computer that you nonchalantly lean on without breaking looks like it will be getting a version that can be customised. According to Sams, 2020 will see a third Surface Studio that borrows more from the Surface Hub smart display, allowing the brains of it to be upgraded independently. We'll just have to wait and see if that makes the price tag any less shocking.
Next up, the long-standing rumours of a dual-screen Surface device get a little more credence, though possibly not in the form previously rumoured. The good news: it's likely to be here in late 2019. The bad news: it's no-longer a pocket-sized device, which perhaps isn't surprising given Microsoft's patchy heritage in the world of smartphones.
Then there are rumours that Microsoft will cheat on Intel with AMD. While the company has been pretty loyal to Intel since the forgettable line of ARM-based Surface RTs, Sams reckons that AMD could end up powering a Surface Laptop due to appear in Q4 2019.
Finally, the Surface Pro will finally be getting USB-C, in a move that should surprise nobody at all. Weirdly missing from this year's set of Surface Laptops and Surface Pros, despite appearing on the Surface Go, Sams say that this decision lies at the feet of Panos Panay.
"This was not a technical limitation," Sams writes. "Instead, Panay is said to have made the decision himself, so his engineers did not include the ports when refreshing the internals of the devices for the updated Intel chips."
This is all roadmap stuff, so is subject to change, but it points to a rosy-sounding future for the Surface line, which is hardly surprising given it helped Microsoft pass $100bn in revenue recently. Despite this, some people still think Surface is living on borrowed time. That could be true, of course, but by the sounds of it, it's borrowed an awful lot. µ
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