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Rumors: Microsoft Surface, Band updates could lead a fall splash of Windows hardware

Mark Hachman | July 7, 2016
Microsoft could be planning a hardware refresh and a bigger launch next year.

New reports indicate that Microsoft plans to issue new Surface hardware in the next few months. But what exactly Microsoft has in mind remains unclear. Here’s a rundown of the rumors. 

Both ZDNet and Windows Central report that Microsoft is leaning toward a small hardware event this fall, where there may be “minor revisions” to the Surface lineup. Both reports indicate, however, that the improvements will be relatively minor, such as a speed bump or increased storage within the Surface Pro 4. 

Other juicy rumors suggest we’ll eventually see some interesting, unique new hardware: all-in-one PCs, perhaps? Other possibilities include a Microsoft Band 3, updated Surface Pro 4s, and perhaps even a possible lapdock to connect a phone and a PC. 

Why this matters: Even as we’ve seen a host of intriguing Surface hardware possibilities spring up, Microsoft sources seem to be downplaying any big splash this fall. ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley implies this is looking more like the 2016 equivalent of Microsoft’s IFA 2015 presentation, where Microsoft showered praise on its hardware partners and offered a status report on Windows 10—and not much more. What seems to be clear is that Microsoft’s engineers are still busy redesigning the PC, but when we’ll see the fruits of those labors remains unknown.

One (or two) Surface all-in-ones

Microsoft redefined the tablet PC with the original Surface line, and then developed a more robust version of it with the Surface Book. Reports suggest that Microsoft might be developing an all-in-one or desktop Surface display, perhaps as a smaller, more consumer-friendly version of the Surface Hub.

Microsoft surface hub

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Windows Central reported Monday that Microsoft may have not one, but two Surface AIOs in the works: a more traditional AIO, and a second, dumb terminal specifically optimized for Microsoft’s Continuum feature for Windows Phone. (How this would differ from an ordinary monitor is unclear.)

Although Windows Central didn’t spell out the latter rumor, it seems realistic that Microsoft could be working on something like HP’s Mobile Extender, a lapdock that uses the power of a Windows (or Android?) phone to power an otherwise dumb display. Add a USB-C connector for connectivity, and an internal battery for charging the phone, and that’s the sort of category-defining mobile solution that Microsoft likes to pursue. (Check out our NexDock hands-on for more on this.) 

hp mobile extender feb 2016 side rear view

 

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