Microsoft’s Hosting Another Surface Event, This Time in China

Posted on May 4, 2017 by Brad Sams in Hardware with 46 Comments

If you said you thought that Microsoft needed to host another event this month besides the education event and Build next week, you are in luck. Microsoft has announced a hardware event for May 23rd and this one is taking place in China.

Ok, so what’s the deal here? I don’t know all the details but I can tell you that I had been hearing about this for some time. For those of you who watch my podcast on Friday’s, I said on April 14th, that there might be another Surface event this month and here it is.

What’s on the agenda? Well, we know it is Surface related as Panos is attending the event and I have heard that the company may refresh their Surface hardware. But, I will say that doing this in China is a bit odd and outside the normal venue that Microsoft hosts these types of events at but here we are with Panos heading to China for the event.

Microsoft’s invite has the phrase “will show the world what’s next” which means that they clearly have something new to show everyone.

As for attending, I don’t believe Paul and I will be going to this one, at least as of right now, we are not planning to attend. Also, we have enough travel as it is on our plate and traveling half-way around the world to see a Surface Pro refresh isn’t exactly appealing.

That being said, Microsoft is hosting an event later this month which brings with it quite a bit of excitement. As always, Paul and I will keep you updated on what we hear.

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Comments (46)

46 responses to “Microsoft’s Hosting Another Surface Event, This Time in China”

  1. rameshthanikodi

    Very surprising, almost an overload of Microsoft events right now. Feels like they could have unveiled new hardware at build, but there must be a reason why they're doing this in China.

    Maybe send Rafael there? :D Shanghai is nice (unlike Beijing), could be a new gig for him. I hope at least Mary Jo goes.

  2. dcdevito

    Perhaps a standalone device running Xiaoice?

  3. dstrauss

    This is another shot across Apple's bow folks. A lot of the talk at Apple's earnings call was about lack of success (diminishing sales) in China - the supposedly great untapped market Cook was crowing about three years ago. No, I don't expect Surface Phone, because I think that is a dead duck, but another form of universal mobile device (call it Surface Mini, Courier, whatever) is a distinct possibility. Despite a lot of pessimism about Surface Laptop among us hardcore users, Microsoft is shaping up as the new Apple; touch is everywhere; and Nadella/Panay are turning out to be a very powerful combination. I really believe the hardware guys see themselves as the Mercedes S class of the computer industry, and they are taking the fight directly to the new spaceship campus in Cupertino...

    We ALL need to get over whining about overly-expensive Surface devices. So long as you are innovating and have a premium look and feel, you can gouge to your hearts content and high end buyers will be there. Is that unfair - yes - but reality. Just ask Apple how $250B in the bank feels (and watch for new levels of GOUGING on the iPhone 8, which you will wait three months to get, and be begging for it the whole time).

    • bbold

      In reply to dstrauss:

      Agree 100%. I'm actually shocked about this second hardware event, what a great month this is shaping up to be, and great timing, too. For some reason, though, I don't think a device like a courier will be revealed in China, but perhaps a SP5 along with some kind of VR device or software. The weird thing is that it's being held in China. There MUST be a reason for that.

  4. chrisrut

    Oh, hmmm. Think "Kanji" and the issues with processing. Maybe MS has a rabbit to pull out of a hat for the Chinese-speaking market? Wouldn't that be interesting - if they had a major new product that was not US/Western culture-centric?

    Nah. Just day-dreaming is all...


  5. Vuppe

    I'm wondering if this might be AI-related, somehow, since Microsoft's best AI research takes place at Microsoft Research Asia...

  6. Tony Barrett

    Don't know about everyone else, but the annual technology 'reveals' are just starting to feel like a merry-go-round. The constant latest and best, and better than last years (who want's year old technology!). A tweak there, a tweak here, upgrading this and that just to get us to part with our money - again!

    I don't care where this is, or whatever MS have planned for 'showing the world what's next'. They've got it wrong so many times before, the world doesn't really care. I think I want to get off this wheel.

  7. VancouverNinja

    It could be the announcement of Cortana enabled home devices like the echo from Amazon.

  8. SaadElBoury

    My guess is: SP5 and some Mini of sorts with phone functionality, don't call it a phone though ?

  9. MutualCore

    This could be a mixed-reality event.

  10. Mrincredible

    "...Show the world what's next."

    From Nadella (July 2015): "We have to be on the hunt for what’s the next bend in the curve to be relevant in the future. This applies for any company"

    When he said that he was referring to missing the smart phone era. Put that together with the panels in the photo (glass and wood) and it definitely looks like the foldable device they patented. They will probably not have the word "phone" anywhere connected to it - except when they do the "one more thing" move like they did with Surface Book. They will then reveal it can fold and...make phone calls.

  11. JimP

    Maybe they can announce a new device category and discontinue it in a couple years?

  12. allanwith

    This whole "Premium Comments" things is not working as intended for me... I never see the premium ones, so if the point was increased visibility, the point is literally mute. Personally I miss disqus, it is a much superior tool for keeping up with responses across websites. Also, you guys are getting much less interaction than before, aren't you? Or is it just me?


    Anyway, sorry for the distraction.


    I have an SP3 and my primary wishes for an upgrade are:

    • Thinner and lighter, to make it better as a tablet
    • Thunderbolt 3
    • and obviously the usual improvements to processing power, cooling and battery life


    I don't know if those things would be enough to warrant an upgrade, but they would be required.


    I'm curious to see if they could manage to add a back-facing depth-sensing camera for improved Mixed Reality View experiences. I know they said it would work with any RGB camera, but theoretically it should be better if the camera was depth sensing.


    Any Surface "phone" device would need to support Mixed a Reality View too, of course. Especially when combined with something like Gear VR or Google Cardboard.


    And just to re-iterate what I have been saying before: a phone-like device should be simply called "Surface". It is simple, it signals the significance of the device as the center of the whole Surface strategy, it reiterates Microsoft's focus on the mobile market, it says that this is not (only) a phone.


    If I were to decide for Microsoft, having been burned so many times by ISP's, I think for a new "phone" device, I would go a different route. I would skip ISP's as much as possible. Do like Amazon did for the Kindle and offer the new device with a data plan from birth - and then handle all phone calls and SMS via Skype. They have made sure to have nothing to lose and everything to gain from such a strategy. This way they can also say, that the device is not a phone, although it will take phone calls...



  13. StevenLayton

    Ive seen the leaked documents. They're releasing Surface branded mouse mats, coloured and textured to match the new Laptops. They look great....

  14. c4995z

    It might be a Surface Pro refresh. But then again, maybe they introduced the Surface Laptop at the Education event to get it out of the way and to keep it from getting overlooked and lost in the real event. Hopefully the next refresh will include Windows on ARM innovations. Hoping for some thunder. Build might have some hints regarding hardware that will leverage RS3 capabilities.

  15. Usman

    Could be a Windows on ARM event as well.


    It's after Build, manufacturing for those devices should start up around June / July for a Redstone 3 release in October. They're normally in China for WinHec and meeting OEM manufacturers.

  16. lvthunder

    Maybe it's the Surface Studio standalone monitor.

  17. 12Danny123

    TBH It's possible that since it's in China, maybe they will talk about some OEM hardware, and also announce a refresh of the SP4.


    I do also think that it may be related to Windows 10 ARM and Windows Mixed Reality.


    I think judging on how Windows Mixed Reality works, where you have a desktop hologram in the space, where you can use your normal desktop and 3D/2D UWP apps outside the desktop hologram. It seems to me that Microsoft is wanting to replace screens for Windows Mixed Reality.


    So if that's the case we could see Panos announce a Mixed Reality PC, where it's a VR headset where you can use as a normal PC but in 3D/2D/

  18. bulls96

    You might regret not coming if it was the Surface Phone! :D

  19. RobertJasiek

    It would be very easy for Microsoft to introduce something new (new for Microsoft):

    Service deserving the name service. That is, battery replacement and repair for fair prices, a guaranteed number of years fulfilling the promise that the mobile devices can replace the PC and its reliability of lasting 7+ years, and fast service so that the user gets back his device as quickly as possible.

    Displays of mobile devices deserving the name mobile. That is, displays that work equally well indoors with a wall in the back, indoors with a window in the back, outdoors in the shadow and outdoors in the indirect sunlight.

    Connectivity of mobile devices deserving the name mobile. That is, LTE all bands just included without rip off premium prices.

    Drivers of productive devices deserving the name productive because of just working.

    Shall I continue? Deactivate telemetry, preinstall Windows Pro, initial availability in all countries, round corners of the chassis to enable long handholding...

    All this is very basic, very easy to achieve and yet revolutionary. Anything less will not filful Microsoft's claim of offering something significantly new.

    And you thought that the latest hardware details were important? They are only secondary. Apple has understood this for many years. Microsoft is starting to copy Apple with the Surface Laptop. Can Microsoft also copy Apple where it matters, with the aspects mentioned above? Forget about useless features, such as augmented reality or whatnot. Only the basics matter. Excellent service, high reliability, mobility not just a promise but reality, freedom instead of restriction.

    • nbplopes

      In reply to RobertJasiek:

      Battery replacement and repair for fair prices is not Apple.

      Yet I agree with the rest. MS has the tendency to forgo important nuisances that lead to un-productivity while pushing new features and devices. Of course if one is not good in dealing with nuisances as small as they are, when it comes to new features is an ever ending battle of patches. I'm a developer, I did pay $2000 for my Quad Core laptop, but hey it goes a full day working non stop without making a hiss sometimes. Other times its mild and intermittent. The only time it goes a bit with a sound is when using VM, sometimes more than one at the same time. This unlike the SP3 also $2000 all things considered. With it, even loading Edge would make fans often spin beyond just a hiss. I call this a battle between a high price balanced product and a high price unbalanced product. Considering this what is the best product and which do you think will have a longer life span at the same price?

      • Chris Blair

        In reply to nbplopes: I share your concern about fan noise. It bothers me too. But as another data point, I use my Surface Pro 3 for MS Office, web surfing, video watching, and a little (very little) programming in Python. And in this use case, at least, my SP3 fan rarely comes on. And by rarely I mean once every few days when some Windows 10 update is happening or there's a war going on between my ad blocker and aggressive ads ... at least that's what I'm imagining.


    • Waethorn

      In reply to RobertJasiek:

      Nobody makes consumer electronics to last 7+ years. The average lifespan of a PC is 3. Where have you been for the last 25 years?!?

      • RobertJasiek

        In reply to Waethorn:

        I think the average lifespan has increased; I read "6 years" somewhere. Anyway, manufacturers did not convince me so I have built my own PC. It has been running for ca. 7 years and shows no sign of age. KISS and passive cooling, which avoid aging coolers. Recently, specialised manufacturers have started to offer such with modern CPUs and ports , but often 1 CPU generation late. With KISS and passive cooling, a PC should last as long as a TV oder good desktop monitor: up to ca. 15 years.

        • Waethorn

          In reply to RobertJasiek:

          Sorry, but you're wrong. It's not some guess-work or rocket science - it's the longest term for warranty. For consumer electronics, that's generally 3 years. If you get longer than that, you're lucky, and above the average. Averaging it out to 3 years means many systems fail in under that time.

          • RobertJasiek

            In reply to Waethorn:

            There is no doubt that warranties are (too) short and, in some countries, laws about endconsumer rights existing but no great help either. However, warranties are not average lifespans. Furthermore, we have much premature end of use when endconsumers replace perfectly functioning products by new ones to get additional / better features.

            PCs have a significantly longer average lifespan than most mobile devices. Among PCs, there is a great variety of lifespans depending on complexity of design, testing, quality of production etc.

            And of course the ridiculously short warranties, bad support services and apparent bad building of PCs with often bad configurations (typically noisy) motivated me to build my own PC and makes me very cautious before buying mobile devices.

  20. Ugur

    Curious to see what they'll show. If it was in the US i'd just expect the commonly to be expected things like SP5 and maybe a hololens refresh or similar (still hoping MS is not serious with not updating it for another year =) ).

    But the different location makes me wonder if we'll see something else (too).

    Overall i'm less sure about hardware releases by MS in the surface line again now after the surface laptop unveil, have a bit mixed feelings about them now.

    The sp4 felt like they would finally be starting to get there, the surface book looks like it's own type of cool device and the surface studio is an amazing sight really pushing the All in one model further in very cool ways and the surface laptop looks very neat at first glance.

    But looking at it in more detail, well, they still have stability, performance and reliability issues across windows 10, drivers and hence also all their and other devices.

    One time i start a copy of a large folder (with many files, several gigs, quite common in development of large projects) and it goes quickly, the next time it somehow drops to kb/s levels on an ssd so then the copy of what should take less than 2 minutes takes hours. Things like that, constantly.

    Or also issues even across the surface line with wifi dropping or slow connection despite all other devices having perfect wifi connection or sleep/wakeup issues etc or for surface book issues regarding connecting/disconnecting/graphics managment etc.

    Then it seems like stepwise at least some of them get addressed (that inexplicable slow file copy/delete actions in explorer for larger folders still happens), but then it feels like they still mimic Apple on too many negative ends.

    Especially regarding more focus on nicer shell than nice contents.

    For example the surface studio seems like an awesome device, but for a device in such price ranges, i expect maximum connectivity (also including being able to use it as external display) and more ports and the fastest largest ssd only option and max ram options and fastest standalone graphics card out there in it.

    Instead we get a tiny base into which they could only fit previous years specs. Which professional asked for gimping on the specs like that?

    They totally have to fix all that, then i'd love to get a surface studio.

    And now the latest one which feels most negative Apple like to me: The surface laptop.

    Looks great at first glance, but then no usb C next to the USB A, no sd card, proprietary power connector, no high end graphics options even in the expensive models and when one buys the halfway ok spec options (8GB Ram spec option) and pen and dock, since all sold separately, suddenly it's not that affordable device anymore at all.

    Those all feel too much like "think more of profit maximisation per device" than about customer satisfaction and a well rounded product to me where the inner specs and connectivity are as good as the sleek outer shell and it makes one feel ok about spending that premium since one gets a great overall package.


    And yeah, i don't care about the argument some bring up that they would not want to anger hardware partners or whatever by delivering something awesome all around. When they make devices (and they totally should), they should make them awesome all around, not just as fancy shell which on closer look lacks on too many specs ends.

    Then the hardware partners also have a better goal to reach for (or deliver better or undercut in pricing).

  21. asdfasdf2

    we have seen online certifications for surface pro 5 and hololens so i guess those two things will be announced maybe hololens something specific dor china

  22. bbold

    Surface Pro 5 and Surface Book 2? That would be amazing. You guys should totally be there. Or, didn't Mary Jo say she would be vacationing in China around then? Did she know before we did? lol. A very exciting month!

  23. Pierre Masse

    Maybe it's the new Cortana-powered Surface golf cart that Brad has in his dreams.

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