We could get a glimpse of the Surface Pro 5, Surface Book 2, or even the Surface Phone
Rumours are afoot - the Microsoft Surface Pro 5 is due to land sometime in 2017. This would be the fifth version of Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablet, designed for the business market.
We round up the features, release date and price rumours, plus all the latest news to keep you on top of Microsoft’s latest hybrid device.
Picture above: Microsoft Surface Pro 4
05/05/2017: Having revealed its new Windows 10 S operating system and Surface Laptop range only two days ago, Microsoft is now preparing for yet more announcements by the end of the month.
In a blog post featuring a live update feed, the company said: "There is more. We will share what's next on May 23 from Shanghai."
The announcement also hit Microsoft's official Twitter account on Thursday evening.
While Microsoft has offered nothing in terms of what to expect, Windows Central says it has confirmed that "new hardware news will be shared", as well as "global and regional" news. It also reports that the event will take place at 7pm local time, or 12pm GMT.
Panos Panay, Microsoft's corporate VP of devices, also announced the event on his Instagram, using the hashtag 'Surface'.
So far that's all we have to go on, but what this more than likely means is that Microsoft is getting ready to announce its long-awaited Surface Pro 5 and Surface Book 2 devices, which were noticeably absent from its education event this week.
There is an outside chance that Microsoft will unveil its rumoured Surface Phone. The tech giant has struggled to keep up with rivals Samsung and Apple in the smartphone scene, taking a $730 million loss for the division in its last quarter.
However, there seems to be conflicting reports from within the company about the future of Microsoft handsets. CEO Satya Nadella revealed in a podcast on Tuesday that the company is still interested in smartphones, despite other sources confirming that there is very little money left in the venture.
If it is indeed a smartphone, it is expected to feature a hybrid 2-in-1 design, with a screen that can be folded from a tablet shape into a traditional handset.
Expect more news to be revealed ahead of the 23 May Shanghai event.
28/04/2017: Surface revenues plummet by more than 25%
Microsoft's Surface revenue for the last three months has plummeted by more than 25% compared to the same period a year ago, due to increased competition in the overall PC market.
Despite gains in other areas, sales of the company's first-party computing devices have taken a dive, according to the company's third-quarter financial results for 2017. The division recorded losses of around $469 million, falling from $1.3 billion in the same period in 2016 to $831 million this quarter.
An uptick in the broader market may have been partly responsible for this. Global PC shipments rose in the first quarter of 2017, according to IDC, marking the first time in five years that sales have increased.
Another possible cause could be the fact that Microsoft hasn't released a consumer-focused Surface device in over a year and a half. Since the release of the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book in October 2015, the only devices unveiled by the company have been an iterative update to the Surface Book and the $3,000 Surface Studio, aimed squarely at creative professionals.
Current rumours suggest that Microsoft could be planning to launch a follow-up device to the Surface Pro 4 this year, with late summer or early autumn pegged as a potential release date. This could prove to be the shot in the arm that Microsoft's Surface business needs, revitalising flagging sales with a new offering. However, details about whether or not this will actually happen are still somewhat thin on the ground.
Taking into account previous Surface Pro 5 release dates, it’s tricky to pinpoint exactly when we’ll see the latest addition to the lineup added. The Surface Pro 4 was announced in October 2016, but the Surface Pro 3 was revealed in May. The Pro 3 was announced in September, but released in October and the first edition was announced in June, but held back for general release until October.
Although initial rumours suggested it would be announced in May at the company’s Build Conference, conflicting reports suggest Microsoft could hold back until later in the year.
We’d expect it to arrive sooner rather than later as the Surface Pro 3 is showing as discontinued on the company’s US store, but ‘out of stock’ in the UK store, showing the company is certainly trying to end that chapter and start afresh.
According to reliable tipster Paul Thurrott, the next iteration of the Surface Pro 5 could pack in the 7th generation Kaby Lake processor. However a particularly dubious rumour emerged after a recent trailer for the upcoming film Alien Covenant, suggesting the Surface could potentially feature AMD's new Ryzen family of processors. While it is possible both could feature, it is unlikely given the added confusion a plethora of choices would create.
Thurrott's sources also claim the new Surface will keep the controversial Surface Connect proprietary charger, despite its competitors touting the universal USB-C charger.
Whether the Surface Pro 5 will feature a keyboard cover in the box or separately remains to be seen. One thing we can be sure will come in the box is the Surface Pen, which is likely to see an upgrade in the form of a rechargable battery, replacing the discrete AAA.
Microsoft is pretty consistent with its Surface Pro pricing structure, so it’s doubtful there’ll be any surprises with the cost of the Surface Pro 5. The entry-level Surface Pro 5 was available for £749, so we would expect the least feature-filled Surface Pro 5 to cost the same, while the top range device, with more powerful processor and up to 1TB storage costing around the same as the Surface Pro 4 Intel Core i7 with 16GB RAM, which is available for £2,359.
24/04/2017: The inventor of an accessory designed to give added support while holding a tablet has been asked to design a similar device for Microsoft's upcoming line of Surface tablets.
The G-Hold, a device that attaches to a tablet to provide ergonomic support, was invented by Alison Grieve three years ago and has since proven popular, selling more than 10,000 units in the US. The device has also featured in a study by the University of the West of Scotland, which discovered it could reduce repetitive strain injuries during heavy tablet use.
The new Surface accessory is likely to resemble the G-Hold (pictured)
Using a micro suction material, the G-Hold is able to stick onto the smooth back of any tablet, smartphone or readers, providing a hold that reduces hand strain and is able to rotate 360 degrees to different viewing angles.
The device, once rejected by Dragon's Den, appears to have caught the attention of Microsoft, which has commissioned Grieve to design a similar accessory to be sold alongside the Surface range, according to a report by the Daily Record.
"G-Hold really adds value to Surface when it's used as a mobile unit rather than at a desk. Microsoft are really excited about our product," said Grieve, speaking to the Daily Record.
Microsoft is not the only big name seeking to take advantage of the health benefits of the G-Hold. After consultations with Apple, Grieve won a referral to Office Relief, the technology giant's main supplier of ergonomic office equipment, which also supplies other tech firms across Silicon Valley. The deal will see Apple roll out the device to staff in their warehouse, sales and software testing divisions.
Picture courtesy of G-Hold