Boasting a sleeker frame, a redesigned stylus and a vastly improved keyboard, does the Surface Pro 4 have what it takes to usher in the hybrid revolution?
Surface Pro 4 latest news
Microsoft offers free replacements for Surface Pro 4 models with screen flickering
Microsoft has committed to replacing Surface Pro 4 models with flickering screens for free as problems mounted since the hybrid device made its debut in 2015.
Redmond started monitoring reports of an irritating and distracting flicker in the Surface Pro 4's PixelSense display in February 2018 and came to the conclusion that devices suffering from the problem could not be easily fixed.
As such it officially launched a replacement program which will allow Surface Pro 4 users to get their model replaced up to three years after the date they purchased it. Under the program, Microsoft will provide people with refurbished replacement Surface Pro 4 models as opposed to brand-new devices or the latest Surface Pro, now in its fifth iteration.
The flickering displays saw some people opt for unusual temporary fixes, notably putting the Surface Pro 4 tablet into a freezer to stop the flickering, though this was hardly a practical quick fix.
People who have paid for the screen to be replaced on their Surface Pro 4 when the device was out of warranty will have the option to get a refund from Microsoft.
However, it is worth noting the replacement program only covers display problems, so does not address any other reliability issues that have cropped up in Surface devices over the past few years.
Microsoft says Surface Pro LTE remains on course for 2017 release
The new Surface Pro LTE model is still on track for a 2017 release, Microsoft has confirmed, after the Redmond firm mistakenly detailed a "spring 2018" debut for the cellular device.
As reported by Neowin, Microsoft had updated the Surface Pro LTE's product page to state: "The new Surface Pro with LTE will be made available for purchase at retail spring 2018. We're excited to bring you a Surface Pro that is now faster, lighter, quieter, and more connected than ever."
However, a spokesperson for Microsoft has now informed the website that the listing was made in error and the device remains on course to be released before the end of 2017.
"Surface Pro LTE will be available later this year," they told Neowin. "We will have more to share regarding specific timing and market availability in the coming months."
However, the statement still places doubt on the Surface Pro LTE's initial release date, which had been previously confirmed to be 1st December.
Microsoft is expected to provide further details regarding the new Surface Pro at its Future Decoded event in London, at which Surface chief Panos Panay is scheduled to give a keynote.
Could Microsoft ditch its Surface line by 2019?
Microsoft could be set to scrap its “choppy” Service business by 2019, Steve Brazier, CEO of market research company Canalys, has claimed.
Speaking at the opening keynote of the EMEA Canalys Channels Forum in Venice, Brazier explained that the move will come as a result of CEO Satya Nadella’s software-orientated approach – as well as the line’s patchy performance (via Channelnomics).
“Microsoft will exit the Surface business by 2019,” Brazier claimed. “Two reasons: Satya Nadella is a software guy, he's a cloud guy. He’s already allowed [Microsoft’s] mobile phone business to decline.
“Secondly, the Surface’s performance is choppy. It has good quarters and bad quarters - but overall it is not making money.”
He added: “It doesn’t make sense for them to be in this business. And when the capital expenditure challenge that Satya Nadella is taking Microsoft down becomes visible to Wall Street… he will have a lot of cost cutting to do, and Surface will be the first target.”
It’s a view shared by other industry figures, too, according to MSpoweruser. Speaking at the same event, Lenovo COO Gianfranco Lanci even suggested “it might be earlier” than 2019.
“Microsoft is making a lot of money on cloud, making a lot of money on Windows and Office, but losing a lot of money on devices,” he said.
Similarly, Dell chief commercial officer Marius Haas feels that the Surface line has “served its purpose” and will “probably slow down a bit”, MSpoweruser reports.
Surface Pro LTE reportedly set to launch on 1st December
The upcoming Surface Pro LTE 2-in-1 is set to release on 1st December, Microsoft has reportedly confirmed.
According to Neowin, a spokesperson confirmed the launch date at the firm's Ignite 2017 event, during a session titled 'Surface product engineering behind the scenes, and deep dive on the new Surface Pro'.
The supposed release date does appear to tie in with speculation that the device will be announced at next month's Future Decoded event in London, at which Panos Panay is scheduled to give a keynote.
A cellular configuration of the hybrid was first mentioned back in May when Microsoft announced the new Surface Pro refresh in Shanghai. There's been little information since, however, but UK retailer Misco recently listed the device as available to pre-order, Neowin also reports.
Although the website now shows the device as unavailable, it still shows two variants of the Surface Pro LTE, with both sporting Core i5 processor chips.
Surface Pro 4 users report problems with Windows Hello after update
A number of Surface Pro 4 owners have found that they can no longer use their camera to log in
with Windows Hello following a recent bout of driver updates.
As reported by Computerworld, update numbered ‘188.8.131.52’ has caused many users to complain of
the issue on various online forums.
“I've been using my SP4 from past 11 months and have never had an issue with Face recognition
windows hello,” user Syed Mohammed Ali Muddassir Quadri explained on Microsoft Answers.
“I restarted my device today and ever since then whenever I turn it on, it says ‘Couldn't turn on the
camera. Please sign in with your PIN.’
"When I went into the settings to see what’s going on, it says ‘Windows Hello isn't available on this
The issue stems from a bad driver included in the download, Computerworld reports, and users have
managed to work around the issue by manually uninstalling it.
One Microsoft engineer addressed the problem on a Reddit forum, stating that if it’s an extension of
an existing issue, the Redmond firm is “working on a fix”.
“If it's a different issue, the good news is that it's super important for us that Windows Hello works
flawlessly, so we'll get right on that,” he added.
New Surface Pro owners complain of backlight bleed
A rising number of Surface Pro owners are complaining of backlight bleeding issues on Microsoft's latest flagship, according to reports.
As reported by On MSFT, although bleeding can be a common occurrence with LCD panels, many owners of the hybrid have stated the problem is more noticeable than usual.
One even compared the hybrid's display with that of the older Surface Pro 4, with a photo comparison highlighting the severity of the former's bleed issue. The 2017 model can be seen with a bright blue bleed emanating from the lower edge of the screen, On MSFT said.
The issue is largely disguised by the taskbar, the website adds but is clearly visible when placing the 2-in-1 in portrait mode or using applications.
Users have posted on Microsoft's support forums and other websites with complaints about the alleged problem.
"Bought a new i5 8GB Surface Pro this Saturday and am very disappointed," one user wrote on Reddit. "Immediately on bootup, I noticed a considerable backlight bleed along the bottom of the screen. There also seems to be a dark band just above the bright band but I'm not sure."
The owner exchanged the hybrid thinking the problem was just a defect - but the new device was displaying the bleed in "almost the same way".
"I checked the ones at the MS store and at Best Buy, and of 7 units on display, 6 had this defect," they added. "The two Surface Pro 4 models on display were not affected at all."
The issue follows a recent hibernation problem for the new Surface Pro, which caused devices to shut down unexpectedly. Microsoft has issued a temporary solution to that problem but is yet to comment on the backlight bleed reports.
Channel Pro has approached Microsoft for comment.
New Surface Pro replaces Surface Pro 4
Microsoft has now released the new Surface Pro, with the device replacing the Surface Pro 4 as the Redmond giant's flagship 2-in-1.
Although not called the 'Surface Pro 5' as many industry observers had expected, the Surface Pro (2017) does improve upon many of its predecessor's features.
The device sports Intel's latest Kaby Lake processors and is available in Core i7, Core i5 and Core m models - offering up a 20% boost in performance over the Pro 4.
Similarly, battery life has also been extended by 50% thanks to increased capacity – from 9 hours on the Surface Pro 4 to 13.5 hours on the new Surface Pro.
Although the new hybrid is largely the same as its predecessor in appearance, it does now sport a redesigned hinge, allowing the screen to recline at a 165-degree angle in the same way as the all-in-one Surface Studio.
The device is also compatible with the Surface Dial, whilst the Surface Pen (sold separately) has also been given a redesign. The stylus now features a new tilt mode and 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity in order to improve functionality and response.
However, users hoping for the inclusion of USB-C connectivity will be disappointed, with Microsoft opting to continue with USB 3.0 ports on their latest 2-in-1.
The new Surface Pro (2017) is available now from £799 at the Microsoft store.
Surface Pro 4 gets discount
Microsoft has given its Windows 10-powered Surface Pro 4 line its biggest discount to date in time for the annual Black Friday sales event.
Customers in the UK can currently purchase the entry-level model for a knock-down price of £599 - £150 less than its usual price. The offer also includes a Type Cover at no extra cost, adding a further £109.99 to the total savings.
That's a combined reduction of £259.99 - or 30 percent - for the Windows 10-powered hybrid device.
It's not just the entry-level model that receives a discount, either. The Intel Core i5 variant also receives the same £150 discount along with free Type Cover. Usually priced at £849, the i5 model is now available for £699.
Type Covers are also available in the colour of the customer's choice.
The sale marks Microsoft's biggest ever Surface Pro 4 price drop for customers in the UK - and the deals will be available until 1st December from Microsoft's online store.
Sales of the Surface Pro 4 helped Microsoft rack up $4.7 billion (£3.8 billion) in profits in the last quarter, according to reports.
The company's surface devices saw a rise in sales of 38 percent compared to the same quarter of 2015. According to Wired, sales of the Surface range totalled $926m (£757m) - a massive contrast to the $672 (£549m) from the same period last year.
Chief executive Satya Nadella said that the company's focus on mobile and cloud computing was helping drive performance. He said: "It's not just the Silicon Valley startups anymore; it is the core enterprise that is becoming a digital company. And we are well-poised to serve them.
"We continue to innovate, grow engagement, and build our total addressable market."
Profit from Microsoft's Office 365 cloud service also rose by eight percent for the quarter, with BBC News stating that the company has regained the confidence of investors with its shift of focus.
"We are helping to lead a profound digital transformation for customers, infusing intelligence across all of our platforms and experiences," said Nadella in a statement. "We continue to innovate, grow engagement, and build our total addressable market."
Prospective Surface Pro 4 buyers can now save $100 when purchasing the laptop-tablet hybrid with specific Type Covers.
The offer is available through both Microsoft's online and physical stores until 9th October - and includes the NFL Type Cover range, Signature Type Cover and Type Cover with fingerprint ID.
The range of NFL Type Covers available includes designs for each of the 32 NFL teams, while the Signature Type Cover is made of two-tone grey Alcantara.
The fingerprint ID-equipped Type Cover allows the user to make use of a biometric reader - which Microsoft says enables a more secure login "with a simple touch". The reader also allows for quick switching between users and the option of using Windows Hello.
The discount applies to all versions of the hybrid device and comes less than two weeks after Microsoft offered a $150 discount on its Core M3 Pro 4.
The one-day-only discount meant shoppers could buy the entry-level hybrid for just $749 from the company's online store - and triggered further speculation that the Surface Pro 5 is on its way.
However, as iDigitalTimes' Chris Groux notes, a recent TV advertisement campaign for the Surface Pro 4 could suggest that a release for its follow-up may still be a while off.
"The fact this commercial even exists is telling enough," Groux reasons. "It means Microsoft actually budgeted significant promotional costs for its current-gen tablet.
"If a new one were coming, we'd find it especially hard to believe that new ads would be aired."
Surface Pro 4 may get a minor refresh
The Surface Pro 4 may be getting a refresh, according to avid Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley.
She has revealed that Microsoft is planning an event in October where it will unveil a number of hardware devices. However, rather than launching a Surface Pro 5 (which looks set to be released next spring), Microsoft could well be planning to refresh its Surface Pro 4 range with updated processors and some other small changes.
The main focus of this event would be a Surface-branded device, codenamed “Cardinal”. This device is said to be positioned as a product that can turn a desk into a “studio”. This in itself looks to be an all-in-one modular PC that Microsoft applied for a patent for last year.
Foley added that Microsoft hasn’t officially acknowledged that there will be such an event taking place.
Anniversary update causing issues for some Pro 4 users
The Windows 10 Anniversary update has been causing issues for some Surface Pro 4 owners, according to recent reports.
Users have reported installation issues when attempting to upgrade their device’s Windows 10 operating system.
According to Windows Report, many users complained that their Surface Pro 4 hybrid devices became caught in a reboot loop – with attempts at using workarounds and fixing corrupt files proving fruitless. The Windows Troubleshooting tool also failed to solve the issue.
According to the website, one user said: “So, I’ve tried to install the update on my SP 4 today, and, after one or two reboots, I’ve ended up in a reboot loop.
“The installation isn’t complete by this point, and something like ‘Setting updates up…’ or so shows for a fraction of a second, and the system reboots. The only way out of this is to boot into recovery, and roll back to previous build.”
Other users said that disabling the Secure Boot option in BIOS also failed to solve the problem.
Dispatch Tribunal adds that there have also been “sporadic” reports of a type cover issue in which the Surface Pro 4’s type cover stops working after the update.
The website also says that other resolved issues include the Surface Pen’s settings being reset after the update as well as a “partially missing Window background.”
Other Surface Pro owners have also since reported that their devices keep crashing since installing the Anniversary Update - whilst various apps repeatedly freeze and system performance is considerably slower than it was previously.
Microsoft has not yet responded to the issues.
Surface Pro 4 receives new update
New drivers are coming to Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book devices.
The drivers will bring some notable improvements to the Pro 4 – including better camera performance and enhancements to the Windows Hello login system.
The release follows firmware updates earlier this month that rectified lingering touchscreen and Surface Pen issues.
According to Trusted Reviews, Windows Insiders that are part of Release Preview and Fast Ring have already started getting to grips with the update – with everyone else set to receive it soon.
Surface Pro 4 owners can check to see if the update is available to download by accessing Settings from the Start Menu and clicking Update & Security. Selecting Windows Update and then Check for Updates will discover whether it is available to download.
More information on the download – including other improvements - will become available when Microsoft updates its Surface Book update page.
Trusted Reviews also notes that the update appears to be primarily focused on improving Windows Hello in time for the release of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.
Devices running the operating system are set to receive several upgrades with the Anniversary Update – including improvements to the aforementioned Windows Hello, the Edge browser, Start Menu, and Cortana.
The Action Centre will also receive a redesign – incorporating a new, easier-to- use interface with widgets, notification tiles and more space to add quick actions.
Microsoft recently confirmed at its Build 2016 conference that the Anniversary Update will land on 2nd August, a few days after its free upgrade to Windows 10 offer expires on 29 th July.
Surface Pro 3 batteries failing rapidly
Batteries inside certain Surface Pro 3 devices are deteriorating quickly – and Microsoft does not appear to be acknowledging the problem, according to reports.
The ongoing issue specifically concerns Simplo batteries that were included in some Pro 3 devices; numerous reports have stated that the level of charge in the batteries has been declining quickly.
Many customers have even resorted to paying large sums of money to fix the problem themselves.
According to WinSupersite.com, some users even believe the issue may not be a hardware issue and say a firmware update could resolve the problem.
Updates for the Surface Pro 3 are becoming less frequent, however, as Microsoft focuses on issues with newer devices such as the Surface Pro 4.
The website also notes that some users believe Microsoft does not seem to be acknowledging the problem as providing a new battery would essentially mean replacing the hybrid tablet completely – in turn ensuring the company failing to live up to promises made two years ago.
In 2014, vice president for Surface Computing Panos Panay and his team stated in a Reddit AmA session: “We’ve built a great battery into the product (the batteries on our Surface products are designed with some of the highest charge cycles for consumer electronic devices. This means that the battery can get charged daily (5 days a week) for over 4.5 years and still maintain 80% capacity.)
“If the battery fails during the warranty period, we’ll replace the battery. If the battery fails after the warranty period, you’ll call Microsoft support and arrange for the battery to be replaced. The cost will be $200 USD.”
Surface Pro 3 devices that shipped with LGC batteries do not appear to suffer the same problem, reports say.
Surface Pro 4 outsells Surface Book, new firmware updates
Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 has sold nine times more units than the Surface Book, new research has shown.
Tech Radar reports that AdDuplex – an ad network that analyses Windows hardware data – has released figures and market share percentages for the Surface devices.
Both devices were released in October 2015 - but the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book have fared very differently.
It is revealed that the Pro 4 accounts for 30.9 percent of the Surface market – dwarfing the Surface Book’s 3.6 percent slice in comparison.
The largest share possessed by a Surface device goes to the Surface Pro 3 – which accounts for 33.3 percent of the market. This is perhaps less surprising, however, due to its earlier release and subsequent price drops. The vanilla Surface 3 holds 21.5 percent.
The Surface Book even trails the first Surface Pro hybrid device (6.9 percent) and the Pro 2 (3.9 percent).
Meanwhile, Microsoft has now rolled out new firmware updates for the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book – addressing the power-management problems experienced by many users.
The latest update, which is also available for the Surface Pro 3, follows a number of previous efforts to improve battery life on the devices.
Following an apology from Microsoft in December, the company has released a series of updates since February to increase battery performance.
Now it appears the issue may finally be resolved – with the Pro 4 receiving two driver updates and the Surface Book receiving three.
A new Surface UEFI driver (for the Surface Pro and Surface Book) aims to improve system stability when switching back from sleep or hibernation mode whilst optimizing standby battery performance.
Updates are available from Microsoft’s website.
Surface Pro outsells iPad Pro in Q1
Microsoft’s Surface Pro series outsold Apple’s iPad Pro in the first quarter of 2016, according to The Register.
The latest data from research firm Canalys shows Microsoft’s hybrid devices shifted approximately 275,000 units in the UK compared with 107,000 for the iPad Pro series.
Surface Pro figures have also increased considerably since the corresponding quarter of last year – in which only 83, 000 units were sold.
Tim Coulling, senior analyst at Canalys, explained: “One of the problems facing Apple is the price, the other is familiarity and applications.”
He adds that it is a “difficult market” for Apple due to the Surface Pro’s compatibility with businesses and corporate infrastructure.
An Apple reseller also told The Register: “People don’t necessarily want to pay the price and aren’t that impressed with the pen. Business customers want the iPad Air and education customers want the Mini.”
The report does acknowledge, however, that these figures come at a time when Microsoft has so far released four Surface Pro iterations compared to the late introduction of the iPad Pro - which was not available until autumn 2015.
Last month Jitesh Ubrani, a senior analyst at research firm IDC, noted the opportunity for Microsoft to gain ground on its rival.
He said: “Apple’s recent foray into this [detachable tablets] segment has garnered them an impressive lead in the short term, although continued long-term success may prove challenging as a higher entry price point staves off consumers and iOS has yet to prove its enterprise-readiness, leaving plenty of room for Microsoft and their hardware partners to reestablish themselves.”
Surface Pro 5 release date rumours
Microsoft’s much-anticipated Surface Pro 5 could be released as early as this June, new rumours have suggested.
With the Surface Pro 4 now over six months old, talk has turned to the release date of its follow up – with various outlets making cases for a June or October 2016 release date.
The Bit Bag speculates that Microsoft could be looking to debut the new tablet-laptop hybrid early in order to “get ahead” of the rumoured upcoming MacBook Pro unveiling at Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) in June.
The website also goes on to mention “other indications” of an early release – citing discounts on existing Surface Pro models and linking the rumours to Intel’s Kaby Lake processor unveiling.
The Surface Pro 5 is widely expected to feature the new processor and its launch will reportedly be held at the Computex in Taipei – beginning on May 31.
Tech Radar also note that, despite this early release seeming unlikely, Microsoft did previously announce the Surface Pro 3 in May 2014 – with the devices then available in June of the same year.
A similar case is made for an October release, however, as the Surface Pro 4 was announced in October of last year. Reports have also suggested that Microsoft may not want to stray from a yearly life-cycle for its tablets.
Tech Radar’s Joe Osborne reasons: “If Microsoft were to pick a time to release its fifth Surface Pro device, chances are that it would go with one of those windows – with October being even more likely. “
Earlier rumours had suggested the Surface Pro 5 could be delayed until as late as Spring 2017.
Microsoft releases Surface Pro 4 update
Microsoft has rolled out new updates for its Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book devices.
The firmware predominantly aims to rectify a common bug that prevents the device from waking up from sleep mode properly.
Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book owners have reported power management issues since their release – including battery exhaustion when the device is in sleep mode.
Panos Panay, Corporate Vice President for Surface Computing at Microsoft, had announced that an update back in February would fix the problem. This, however, only seemed to succeed in compounding the sleep mode issue for many users.
Microsoft is confident these latest updates now resolve the issue.
In addition to the sleep mode fix, the Intel HD Graphics520 driver and Surface UEFI updates also correct a screen flickering problem that many users have experienced with applications (such as Microsoft Edge) on the Surface Pro 4.
A set of Surface Camera drivers are also included – enabling improved stability for Windows Hello (Microsoft’s personalised recognition system) – as is a Surface Embedded Controller firmware update which tackles thermal tuning issues.
The older Surface Pro 3 also receives some updates that have been designed to improve Surface Dock stability.
Microsoft promised the updates will be available to all users, advising: “When Surface updates are provided via the Windows Update service, they are delivered in stages to Surface customers.
“As a result, not every Surface will receive the update at the same time, but the update will be delivered to all devices. If you have not received the update then please manually check Windows Update later.”
Surface Pro 5: Spring 2017 Release?
Microsoft’s Surface Pro 5 looks set to be launched in spring 2017.
The release date for the upcoming laptop-tablet hybrid is said to have been delayed in order to prevent a clash with the upcoming Surface Phone – due later this year.
In addition, Microsoft’s Windows 10 update - dubbed Redstone 2 - has been rescheduled for release in early 2017 and is expected to be found on the 5th generation of hybrid devices.
Surface Pro 5 is, however, likely to be announced in tandem with Surface Book 2 and, despite still being a year away, spec rumours are already doing the rounds.
Early suggestions point to it featuring an impressive 4K resolution and a screen size of 13.3 inches – enabling enhanced video streaming and an upgrade on the Surface Pro 4’s capabilities.
It has also been rumoured that the hybrid will be powered by Intel’s Skylake processors and will provide improved battery life when compared to the current Surface Pro 4.
With Microsoft yet to release any concrete information on the devices, prospective users will certainly be hoping the tech giants can close the gap with rivals Apple in terms of battery longevity.
Windows 10 causing Surface Pro and Surface Book to freeze
It appears that Microsoft did a lot of testing for its latest Windows 10 update except on its own Surface Pro devices. The latest build borks the Surface Pro 4, Surface Pro 3 and Surface Book.
Redmond released its new “Windows 10 build 14279” for Surface Book, Surface Pro 3 and Surface Pro 4 to its Windows Insider Fast Ring users. The Fast Ring is a group of normal users that get updates sooner than the general public.
While these updates are prone to bugs, this particular update rendered the Type Cover keyboard, trackpad and touchscreen out of action.
Microsoft has been made aware of the bug and is currently investigating a fix.
In an official Windows blog post, Microsoft says: “We’re investigating an issue in which some Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4, and Surface Book devices experience a freeze or hang and all input such as keyboard/trackpad and touch do not work. The workaround is to hold down the power button to force the device to hard-reboot.”
Surface Pro 4 wins Best Tablet award
The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 has won the Best Mobile Tablet award during the Global Mobile Awards (GMA) at this week’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2016.
The device beat rivals Apple iPad Pro, iPad Mini 4, Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 and Sony Xperia Z4 to win the Best Mobile Tablet Award. The Lumia 532 smartphone from Microsoft was also nominated in the category Best Mobile Handsets & Devices.
The Surface Pro 3 won the same title in 2015.
The Surface Pro has barely been out a few months but talk has now turned to thoughts of a possible Surface Pro 5 launch.
According to a report by Inquisitr, Microsoft could fix one of the major concerns over the Surface Pro 4, battery life, with the next version of its hybrid tablet-cum-laptop.
In the meantime, Microsoft has slashed the price of the device by $100 in a bid to make it more appealing to consumers. The discount until the end of this month. The discount comes as Huawei released its Windows-based rival to the Surface Pro 4, the Huawei Matebook.
Microsoft issues fix for Surface bugs
Microsoft is addressing the power management problems that are reportedly plaguing the Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book.
In his blog, Surface chief Panos Panay said the software firm had listened to customer feedback and was releasing a set of Microsoft and Intel driver and firmware updates to help users “get the most of the power management options that Surface is designed to offer and continue to make your Surface more productive.”
“We are committed to continuing to improve Surface – to keep pushing out updates to make your device more awesome,” he said. “And to continue to help all our customers realise the full benefits of the latest silicon and Windows 10. With that in mind, one of the most important steps you can take is to ensure your Surface is up-to-date with the fixes we post on Windows Update.”
Microsoft signs up 117 new partners to bring Surface 4 to UK
With the Surface Pro 4 set to become available in the UK on February 18, Microsoft has recruited a further 117 partners to bring the devices to market.
The additional Distributor Managed Partners (DMPs) will supplement 63 recruited at the end of last year and Microsoft’s existing 13 UK Authorised Device Resellers (ADRs). This, says the software company, will enable customers to choose from a greater number of partners, many of which specialise in certain vertical sectors.
“The expansion means that we will be able to better satisfy the demand from partners to resell Surface,” says Pauline Yau, UK commercial Surface lead for Microsoft UK. “The expanded partner line up means [businesses will] be able to buy Surface from a greater range of providers, many of which have industry specific expertise.”
David Watts, commercial director at Microsoft distributor Tech Data, says Surface devices are a key part of the distie’s Windows device strategy. “The new devices have wide adaptability to a number of businesses cases and this new partner line up will expand the number of end user markets.”
Raj Pandya, head of commercial management at another Microsoft distributor, Ingram Micro, says the firm is seeing momentum with Microsoft Surface as well as Windows 10.
“There is high demand from education, local and central government, healthcare, finance, media and design and legal sectors to name just a few…At Ingram Micro we are looking to grow with the opportunity and we are making investments to ensure we can fulfil all opportunities with our Microsoft Surface community as well as the whole Microsoft proposition.”
Surface Pro helps drives Microsoft revenue increase
The launch of the Surface Pro 4 helped to bolster Microsoft’s revenues for FY16 Q2, according to the vendor’s latest financial results.
It says Surface revenue increased 29 percent, driven by the launch of Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book.
“It was a strong holiday season for Microsoft highlighted by Surface and Xbox,” says Microsoft COO, Kevin Turner.
However, revenues for the Windows Phone plummeted 49 percent, reflecting the vendor’s “strategy change” announced in July 2015.Microsoft says it is currently re-organising its approach to smartphones in an attempt to rival the likes of Apple and Samsung.
Microsoft announces high-end Surface pro 4 and Surface Book
Microsoft has announced it will now ship two new Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 models, both with 1TB of storage, an Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM.
However, they are currently only available in the US and Canada – with the Surface Book coming in at a hefty £2230 and the most powerful Surface Pro 4 at £1880.
Microsoft made the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 available to pre-order in the UK earlier this month.
The first batch of Surface Book pre-orders will ship by February 18, according Microsoft’s website.
Surface Pro 4 delays “temporary”
Microsoft has stated that the continuing delays affecting European channel suppliers of the Surface Pro 4 should shortly be resolved.
The shortage has reportedly been affecting the top-end variants of the hybrid device. While the basic model with Intel’s Core-m3 CPU remains readily available, the higher-performance Core-i5 and Core-i7 versions have been much scarcer.
Microsoft’s channel partners report that they currently have almost no stock available, and that delivery dates for replacement inventory has been continually pushed back, despite being scheduled for arrival within the next few days.
The issues could be tied to Microsoft’s own supply chain difficulties in getting hold of components for the devices.
The company has assured that the lack of stock will shortly be remedied. “Any shortages in the commercial channel should be temporary as inventories are refreshed,” a Microsoft spokesperson said.
“We’re constantly working with our manufacturing team and reseller partners to ensure that customers who want to purchase Surface will find it in the commercial channel and will watch this closely on an ongoing basis.”
The Surface Pro 4 could soon be getting a little brother – in the form of the Surface Phone.
For the past few years, fans have been anxious for Microsoft to drop its Lumia branding and roll its smartphones into the Surface device family, which was expanded last year to include the Surface Book.
This could be on the horizon, as rumours suggest that the company may be gearing up to release the last Lumia device it had in pre-production.
After that, the company will allegedly begin working on the first smartphone entirely conceived and produced by Panos Panay and the Surface team, who now handle all device engineering.
Existence of the device is still unconfirmed, but early rumours suggest that it will be a high-end flagship powered by an Intel CPU – think Surface Pro 4, but with a smaller footprint.
It is also rumoured to be arriving in the second half of 2016, around the same time as the Windows 10 Redstone update.
Casing and appearance
By now, Microsoft has pretty much nailed down its ideal design for the Surface range, and it shows. The Surface Pro 4’s magnesium alloy chassis is attractive and sleek, with an eye-catching angular design sensibility.
It’s pleasingly premium, abut also retains the sturdy, functional feel of previous Surfaces. That’s thanks in no small part to the inbuilt kick-stand, which can be fully adjusted through an impressive range of motion meaning that you’re guaranteed a comfortable viewing angle.
It’s also equipped with a respectable complement of hardware ports, including a full-size USB3 input, a MicroSD slot and a Mini DisplayPort. It also has a USB input on the power brick, meaning you won’t have to unplug any peripherals to put your devices on charge.
Though it’s positioned as a hybrid, Microsoft’s device comes down more on the laptop side of the fence than on the tablet, and it shows in the weight. While it’s lighter than the majority of laptops at 800g, it’s heavy for a tablet, to the point where using it handheld can become an uncomfortable strain after long periods.
Keyboard and Surface Pen
Despite being one of the main things supporting Microsoft’s claim that the Surface can replace your laptop, the Type Cover keyboard still doesn’t come free with the Surface Pro 4. Instead, it’s an extra £109, which is a frankly extortionate price for what it is.
It’s a shame, as the keyboard has seen some real improvements for the Surface Pro 4. The keys are larger, and have more travel depth and resistance, while the keyboard itself is sturdier and more rigid. All of this means that typing is now a much easier and more pleasant affair than with previous Surface models, with none of the bouncy, rattley problems that plagued previous Type Covers.
The trackpad has also had an update. It’s now larger and more accurate, with a glass finish rather than plastic. The only slight hiccup is that clicking depresses the pad to a deeper extent than on most laptops, which felt initially jarring.
The Surface Pen is the star of the show in many ways, though. Microsoft’s stylus has had a tune-up, and works with the screen to detect 1,024 levels of pressure-sensitivity. Complementing that is a slight rethink of its design, with a magnetic strip along the side to attach it to the Surface’s casing directly.
Embedded into the end of this strip is a single hardware button, replacing the two found on earlier models. The removal of a button would normally bother us, but it’s made up for by the fact that the ‘eraser’ button on the end now actually functions as an eraser.
Rub it over anything you’ve drawn with the stylus, and it’ll vanish. It’s also been updated with new functions, such as pressing twice to save a screenshot to OneNote, and triple–pressing it to launch Cortana.
It’s an excellent improvement over the previous Surface Pen, and though how much you use it will likely be determined by your artistic ability, it’s the most naturalistic stylus experience we’ve had yet.
For the latest iteration of the Surface family, Microsoft has pulled out all the stops in getting the 12.3in display as good as possible. It’s bumped the resolution up to 2,736 x 1,824, providing an impressive 267ppi. Text is crisp, pictures are detail-packed, and pen-strokes appear smooth and fluid.
It also has incredibly good colour accuracy, which is a vital component for winning back the swathes of the creative community currently swearing by Apple’s products. Brightness is absolutely blazing too, even outside or under harsh office lighting.
The display looks great, and is well suited both to standard office tasks like document processing and to watching a movie after work. It’s also likely to be a hit with artists – though we couldn’t sketch our way out of a paper bag, the high resolution and accurate colours make it a great creative tool.
Specs and performance
The Surface Pro 4 packs the latest Intel chips under the hood. There’s various configurations on offer, with different CPUs and RAM allocations at different price-points. In our case, it had an Intel Skylake Core i5-6300U processor with 8GB of memory.
Unsurprisingly, it racked up a highly respectable overall score of 44 in our benchmarks, with the only thing letting it down being the lack of a dedicated graphics processor. It’ll breeze through light to medium workloads, but anything that requires serious GPU rendering like current-gen gaming or video editing is likely to present a problem.
In our battery benchmarks, the Surface Pro 4 held out for seven hours and 40 minutes, which is not bad at all. It’s not quite enough to get through a full workday, however, and we’d advise keeping the charger to hand while out and about, just in case.
It’s unlikely to replace a dedicated gaming laptop, or any truly mammoth workstations, but for most other tasks, Microsoft’s right when it says the Surface Pro 4 can replace your laptop – in terms of performance, at least.
As one might imagine, one of the Surface Pro 4’s main duties is to be the poster-child for Microsoft’s newest operating system. Windows 10 is suitably impressive, with the Intel RealSense camera used to provide Windows Hello biometric login functionality.
It’s got all the associated Windows 10 bells and whistles, but the simplest things about the new operating system are the best, like the notification system for emails and system alerts, or the fact that the traditional start menu has returned once more.
There was one issue, where a problem with graphics drivers caused the Surface to boot to a black screen, but a hard reset quickly took care of the problem, and it’s easily fixable with a software update.
The Surface Pro 4 is an excellent poster child for Windows 10, and Microsoft’s new focus on mobility looks to be paying off. It feels light and portable with an excellent display, while still packing in enough power to smash through most day-to-day tasks with ease.
The main downsides are the battery life, which some may find just a touch too lacklustre to be truly worthwhile, and the somewhat eye-watering price, which can climb to just under £2000 for the top-end model once you factor in the Type Cover.
On balance, though, the Surface Pro 4 is an excellent machine, and is certainly the best use of the windows 10 operating system we’ve seen yet. While it’s not going to please everyone, it’s a superb device, and may finally see hybrids become a staple of the workplace.
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Dan is a freelance writer and regular contributor to ChannelPro, covering the latest news stories across the IT, technology, and channel landscapes. Topics regularly cover cloud technologies, cyber security, software and operating system guides, and the latest mergers and acquisitions.
A journalism graduate from Leeds Beckett University, he combines a passion for the written word with a keen interest in the latest technology and its influence in an increasingly connected world.
He started writing for ChannelPro back in 2016, focusing on a mixture of news and technology guides, before becoming a regular contributor to ITPro. Elsewhere, he has previously written news and features across a range of other topics, including sport, music, and general news.