Updated models with AMD graphics options expected in early 2017.
Microsoft Announces Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2
The Surface 2 is both thinner and lighter than the original Surface RT, retaining the adjustable kickstand. Instead of USB 2.0 ports it uses USB 3.0, and includes Microsoft's full Office software (adding Outlook).
Microsoft's Surface Pro 2, the next iteration of its existing Surface Pro tablet, is equipped with an Intel Haswell processor that boosts graphics performance by 50 percent and battery life by 75 percent. Overall performance is said to be up 20 percent, and while the Surface Pro 2 includes double the memory (8GB), the form factor remains unchanged.
Accompanying the two new tablets is a new Touch Cover ($119) that boasts additional sensors, new gestures, a thinner design, and backlighting. There's also a new Power Cover ($150-$200), designed to add additional battery life to the Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2.
The Surface 2, priced at $449, is once again poised to compete with Apple's full-sized iPad. The Surface Pro 2 has a price tag of $899, putting it nearly on par with the MacBook Air. Microsoft does intend to continue selling the original Surface RT for $349.
Despite a vigorous anti-iPad campaign touting its Surface tablets, Microsoft has seen poor sales of the devices and was forced to initiate price cuts after taking a $900 million writedown for the Surface RT.
Microsoft will begin accepting pre-orders for the new Surface tablets on September 24, shipping them on October 22, which falls in the time frame of a prospective October Apple event that could see the introduction of Apple's fifth-generation iPad and Retina iPad mini.