Microsoft Corp. unveiled a new version of its Surface Pro tablet and laptop combination device with more powerful chips and better battery life, updating an aging product with declining sales that hurt financial results last quarter.
The Redmond, Washington-based company introduced the fifth version of the Surface Pro at an event in Shanghai, the first time it’s held the launch of a major product outside the U.S. Microsoft also announced a version of Windows 10 for use by the Chinese government and state-owned enterprises, ending a standoff over the operating system by meeting the government’s requests for increased security and data control.
Surface Pro is the workhorse of the company’s computer hardware line. It’s the biggest seller among the Surface devices, a category that Microsoft created – the two-in-one, or a tablet with a removable keyboard. Yet Microsoft’s Pro 3 and 4 are aging, and partners like Lenovo and HP have come out with their own Windows-based versions, that give Microsoft software revenue but take away hardware sales. Meanwhile Apple’s take on the category, the iPad Pro, has been stealing market share.
Those factors contributed to a 26 percent drop in Surface sales last quarter. The new version should turn that around, said Yusuf Mehdi, who oversees marketing for devices and Windows. The device has 13.5 hours of battery life, a 50 percent improvement over the previous version, and runs Intel Corp.’s faster seventh generation Core chips.
The Pro is available for pre-orders since yesterday starting at USD799 and goes on sale June 15, the same day as the Surface Laptop Microsoft announced earlier this month. The device has a new kickstand that lets it fold almost flat to resemble a drafting table, similar to the pricier Surface Studio computer, and the Pro can now be controlled on screen by the Surface Dial device that Microsoft introduced with the Studio. Bloomberg