Don’t Be Freaked By Surface Pro 5 Misquote

Posted on May 8, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface with 54 Comments


Don't Be Freaked By Surface Pro 5 MisquoteA selectively misquoted statement by Panos Panay is triggering a new wave of nausea among Surface fans. Folks, relax. He didn’t actually say that Microsoft would not make a Surface Pro 5.

Instead, Panay’s comments, to CNET, were entirely consistent with recent developments, including that Microsoft would “refresh” the current Surface Pro 4 ahead of any new device. Also, he applied the same long-term lifecycle to Pro 4 he just last week used with regards to the new Surface Book.

Also, I’m trying to imagine the person in charge of Microsoft actually telling customers to hold off on buying Surface Pro 4, which is how this conversation got started. Or revealing a future product before it’s ready to sell.

“If you’re considering a Surface Pro 4, is it better to sit tight and wait for the next generation?,” the CNET interviewer prompted Mr. Panay.

“If people don’t want to buy our Pro 4 at this time, that’s OK,” Panay said. “What I’m super, super sure of is that the people using a Pro 4 have a product that’s going to be competitive for five years.”

So will a Surface Pro 5 “appear soon,” CNET asked?

“When it’s meaningful and the change is right, we’ll put it on market,” he replied. That does not suggest that a Pro 5 is or is not happening soon, by the way. In fact, it’s a complete deflection.

“Meaningful change isn’t necessarily a hardware change, which is what a lot of people look for. They’re like, ‘Where’s the latest processor?’ That’s not what I mean. I’m looking for an experiential change that makes a huge difference in product line.”

CNET says that Panay said battery life and size/weight improvements are much more meaningful to him than a new processor.

“You’ll see that same meaningful impact when Pro 5, or Pro Next hits the market,” Panay then told CNET, before, in the publication’s word’s “quickly qualifying that, ‘there’s no such thing as a Pro 5’.”

Obviously, there will be. And as obviously, he means, “There is not such thing as a Surface Pro 5 … right now at this moment.” And as obviously, it would be dangerous for the man in charge of Surface to pre-announce a new product, destroying the sales of the current product. THAT was the reason for this quote, which you now see in headlines everywhere.

This has been blown out of proportion by far too many people.

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Comments (55)

55 responses to “Don’t Be Freaked By Surface Pro 5 Misquote”

  1. Omega Ra

    yup, sadly they make the clickbait title.

  2. PeteB

    Who cares? He said it. Maybe he should choose his words more carefully then.

    When did Paul becomes Microsoft's PR damage control lackey?

    • allanwith

      In reply to PeteB:

      Since always?

      Both Paul and Mary Jo have on multiple occasions been the ones to cut through the noise to explain what's what, whenever Microsoft said something that caused a stir. I don't think they see themselves as lackeys however :).

  3. Jeffrey Tschiltsch

    I just wish they'd make a Surface Pro with built-in LTE.

  4. dstrauss

    I don't think the tech world, journalists, nor fans are "freaking out." What is happening is a serious assessment of Panos' position. If he is saying a CURRENT buyer of the SP4 is five years competitive, then he is clearly wrong - no USB-C, no Thunderbolt, a two year old processor architecture, short battery life. If his "count" started from original release date, then maybe there is three years "competitive design" left in that scenario, but even that is a stretch. Battery life alone would be an Achilles heel even now, as the current generation of Kaby Lake competitors profess 12 hour battery lives - SP4 at BEST is 4-5 hours actual use.

  5. Boris Zakharin

    It sounds to me like he's saying it might not be called Surface Pro 5. Although I am annoyed with all the naming changes MS makes, it's not such a big deal in the end.

    • Darren Chapman

      In reply to Boris Zakharin: I agree. He mentioned a "Pro Next" right after mentioning a Surface Pro 5. Denied the existence of the latter; and apparently said nothing more about the former. Isn't the tag line for the 5/23 event, "show the world what is next"?

      • MikeGalos

        In reply to Darren Chapman:

        Using next as a placeholder is a Microsoftism (and used by others as well) to refer to the next, yet unnamed, version of a product. We'd generally refer to putting a feature in a future version rather than the one we were developing by saying things like "The underlying tech won't be ready when we need it. Move it to V.Next". Don't read too much into that tag line.

    • allanwith

      In reply to Boris Zakharin:

      So why are you bothered if it's not such a big deal? ... Sorry, just kidding :)

      Apple is known to tweak their names every now and then too, when they want to signal what they think is meaningful change to a series of products. So what you are saying is not out of the question at all.

      What he said also doesn't prevent them from releasing a Surface Pro 4S btw.

  6. dhallman

    Was anyone 'Freaked'?

    Microsoft makes their mistakes but they have a brain.

    The Surface Laptop is an in-between device. Not as portable as the Surface Pro but borrows it's aesthetics. It is also not as flexible as the Surface book. But as a true Laptop, it is tripping all over the Book's territory. So clearly they would not release this product and release new versions of the old ones at the same time.

    So a 'new generation' Surface Pro or Surface Book will cannibalize the spotlight from the new product for the next 6 to 12 months. But the Book and the Pro must get off of Skylake. So a refresh has to happen (and is too late).  The real issue is that Microsoft is not to blame for the Skylake issues. If anything they engineered Windows to deal with the shortfalls of that silicone (and had to limit 'old' Windows on new processors or crack open that code as well in the process). But to do what is right for their customers (as they are responsible for their customers) they should offer a really generous trade-up offer for a short time for users that have endured the Pro 4 and SurfaceBook product cycle.

    I won't hold my breath.

  7. Jules Wombat

    None Problem. Just Click Bait guff.

    BTW Very Happy with meu SP4.

  8. MikeFromMarkham

    If/when they get around to SP10, will that be the last version ever? Just wondering...

  9. sharpsone

    It sounds to me like there's nothing to take away from his statement. The last thing anyone needs is an annual PC upgrade cycle with minimal ROI. That crap flies in the smartphone world, but 10 years later it's border-line ridiculous. But look it's got a curved screen with nearly the same innards as last year. Yes and Taco Bell just recreated the burrito for the 1000th time, but in the end it still tastes the same.  

  10. chaad_losan

    The sky is falling the sky is falling!!!!

    Seriously? First world problem #423. When will the next super expensive Surface Pro what ever coming out? Really? if you need a computer get one now. If not, stop pining for something your not going to buy anyway.

  11. charms55

    My local retailer is advertising Surface Pro 5 available May 31 here in Japan.

  12. Awhispersecho

    I actually wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't a Surface Pro 5, or at the least, MS is considering not releasing 1. There are some very impressive 2 in 1 devices by OEM's in the market now which was the goal. I can honestly see the end goal being Surface Studio, the Surface laptop that was just announced, and a new 3 in 1 Surface device that is the phone, tablet and laptop combo we have been talking about as what the possible next form factor might be.

    Whether it's a 6" device with a dock and a shell available or if it has a foldable screen. Either way, seems like we are getting closer and closer to that time when the Surface Pro as it exists is no longer needed and the Surface line takes on a new form.

  13. chrisrut

    With regard to the screeching Howler monkeys who think every shadow is a leopard, to paraphrase Inventor/philosopher Bucky Fuller; "The only tool required to be brilliantly negative is a mouth."

  14. Josh Durston

    You can't say you have a 5 year machine without including USB Type C.

    • jjaegers

      In reply to Josh Durston: I think USB-C is way less important that some do... right now every USB flash drive I have is USB 3, literally every device I have right now other than my Nexus 6p is uses a USB-A to USB-C cable to connect to my computer.  I am not quite sure why they didn't include one of the Surface Laptop AND a USB-A port but whatever...
      To me the USB-C port is much more important in terms of universal power and universal docking solutions.  Since the laptop has a mini-display port and a standard surface connector you wont be missing out on anything, you will just be using different connections... sure... if you have other devices that are using USB-C and want to the same set of connectors / adapters to work between your devices then it might be a problem but I'm not sure how many people that effects.  The biggest problem I have in regards to USB-C is that I can never borrow someone else's charger to charge my 6p because no one else has USB-C on their phones.

  15. cyloncat

    If you're seeing it on the internet, it has already been blown out of proportion. Abraham Lincoln said it, so you know it's true.

  16. Tony Barrett

    I don't give a rats ass whether there is one or not. I don't own one and wouldn't buy one. Over-inflated, buggy, stupidly expensive slabs. People just get so caught up in the reveals, the fake presentations, rich suits who pretend to understand what you actually need. It's quite shocking how any reasonably intelligent person falls for this junk. They sell you something that is a huge sum of money, tell you how wonderful it is, and how it will change your life for the better. Does it? No, not in the slightest. Just like any other PC, you'll be cursing it before not too long, finding the problems they never mentioned and experiencing the bugs they never fix, and there won't be much you actually do on it that you couldn't do on a budget laptop or PC costing a quarter of the price.

    We are just SO gullible these days, and fall for all this marketing rubbish every time.

  17. Darmok N Jalad

    With the addition of some other products to the line since Surface was born, I think it might be time to rename Surface Pro to something else anyway, especially if there will no longer be a non-Pro Surface. Maybe Surface Pro 5 will be called Surface Tablet?

  18. RobertJasiek

    What features others than IT hardware improvements will inverse the current decrement of Surface Pro sales and convince more people of buying some? Trust generated by the following, easily possible features:

    • no noteworthy bugs
    • much longer battery duration
    • significantly lower weight (carbon)
    • rounded edges enabling long handholding
    • long warranty included in the basic price
    • battery replacement available for several years at a reasonable price
    • deactivated telemetry available in Windows 10
    • chaad_losan

      In reply to RobertJasiek:

      Yeah super easy. No problem. Especially that "much longer battery duration" NOT. Obviously the "RobertJasiek" revolutionary computer is coming out next week right? With all these features! I for one can't wait!

      • RobertJasiek

        In reply to chaad_losan:

        Battery: See, e.g., Toshiba Portege X20W-D-10R with Core i7-7600U and 11h59' battery duration (Surfing / WLAN / 150cd/m^2). Core i7 and U series processor but such a long duration! Now, take Core m3 or i5 of the Y series and obviously you get longer battery life. Oh, wait that device also has a matte display and up to 410cd/m^2 on average, that is, is perfectly suitable outdoors, and thunderbolt and several high end security hardware features. See

        Kaby Lake in various devices has turned out to generate much fewer bugs than Skylake. Kaby Lake is known to allow longer battery life.

        E.g., the Toshiba Dynapad has shown that carbon enables the weight 539g for a tablet of the 12" class. This leaves enough scope to aim somewhere in between 539 and 766g of the Surface Pro 4 tablet unit, if more ports or larger battery should demand more weight than the Dynapad.

        Rounded edges: everybody can do it, even Xiaomi. It is merely a design decision. With Surface (Pro) so far, Microsoft went for the industrial design. This, however, is not needed for functionality. Some compromise between the rounded edges of MiPads and harsh edges of current Surfaces exists.

        Long warranty: Just provide it. If the product quality is good, the product and company reputation deserve it. Oh, wait, the product is not good enough for a 5 years warranty by default? Tablets are not as reliable as SSDs yet? Then offer 3 years and make battery replacement service available for at least 5 years and a reasonable, preannounced price. The latter is solely a management decision. Long duration generates trust and therefore increases sales. Low duration aims at the fast buck: sell now, lose all disappointed customers tomorrow and forever.

        Enabling deactivated telemetry: trivial. Just copy the related code from Windows 10 Enterprise or Windows 7.

        Why I do not buy a Toshiba Portege 2-in-1? 16:9 or 16:10 display ratios are useless for me.

    • Narg

      In reply to RobertJasiek:

      Isn't the "Eve" 2 in 1 going to everything in your list? That's one major reason Windows is so great, it's so open to as many OEMs as possible. p.s. I didn't buy into the pre-fund campaign, because I'm in the "wait and see camp. Still looks very interesting...

      • RobertJasiek

        In reply to Narg:

        Independently of whether products by other manufacturers are better in some respects, Microsoft should repeat what it did with the Surface Pro 3 (define a model to be followed). This time, however, the model must be "trust at a level so high that it defines the computer hardware industry standard". The countless bugs and shorter than advertised battery duration lost very much trust. Time for Microsoft to reinvent itself.

        Eve: It had some features making it attractive whilst crowdfunding demands great caution. I miss the three most important features: matte, 4:3, promise of how many years battery replacements will be available. With them, I might have taken the risk of early adoption. Without them, I continue to wait for some manufacturer offering them for a Windows or Linux tablet or 2-in-1.

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to RobertJasiek:
      • no noteworthy bugs
      • much longer battery duration
      • significantly lower weight (carbon)
      • rounded edges enabling long handholding
      • long warranty included in the basic price
      • battery replacement available for several years at a reasonable price
      • stop buying into the telemetry FUD surrounding Windows 10


  19. Ugur

    I have mixed feelings about this.

    On one side: yeah, of course i didn't take it as "oh my god, they won't ever make a sp5!!!"

    But still, i take it as what it is, which is they will most likely do a sp4 spec bump upgrade soon but don't see that as big enough revision to label it SP5.

    Spec improvement by itself is always welcome in my book and i wish all companies would do that 2-3 times a year instead of max 1-2 times (until the next "full" gen)

    The part i don't like about this?

    That i think MS with that also implies it is not a next gen as in not massively changing ports.

    And i'd wish they'd go with 1-2 usb A, one usb-c, drop the stupid custom charger port and ideally on top have room for micro sd card reader and hdmi port.

    What is it with USB A/C that some companies go with only USB A, others with only USB C and only few get it right and support both present and future well by offering both?

    Not that difficult really.

  20. Narg

    It's like most things Microsoft these days. Everyone blows them out of proportion...

  21. Rob_Wade

    Meanwhile, Apple signals their next device well ahead of any official announcement, etc. Dangerous? I think not. Panay, Nadella and the rest continue to be fools and create more anger amongst an ever-shrinking fan base.

    • MikeGalos

      In reply to Rob_Wade:

      Actually, they don't. Apple is famous for secrecy. What you're confusing with Apple signaling is a fan base that will give clicks to any rumor leading to it being very profitable (and very risky) to do industrial espionage. The former being represented by blurry photos of empty shells taken by Foxconn employees causing major headlines and the latter by the private police force raids and website bans over the prototype the Apple employee left in a bar a few years ago.

    • Ugur

      In reply to Rob_Wade: Apple did not announce their recent device, neither for iPhones (though everyone knows it will get smaller bezels like most other flagships this year before them) nor with their Macs.
      With the Macs they for the first time in a long while had to go so far to at least have to say they will make a new mac pro and are working on one, and that they were forced to because meanwhile there is so loud moaning everywhere that the entire mac lineup sucks meanwhile.

  22. Waethorn

    I just saw Microsoft's stock drop.

  23. MikeGalos

    You'd think that with three Microsoft major press events in one month (last week's EDU announcements, //build/ this week and the announcements in China in two weeks) the Silicon Valley press would have enough stories and gossip to peddle to avoid the idiocy they're reporting on this non-story.

    It's really pathetic how little journalism remains in this industry. Thanks to Paul for actually reporting on the real story here.

    • Ugur

      In reply to MikeGalos: totally agree, the all ad driven pseudo journalism really gets to annoying levels of misinformation nowadays.
      (On a side note: Paul, i like your subscription option in theory but think you should price it lower since, well, going forward if the push is by all to have subscription services, all have to cost less. I like your content but i have so many subscriptions going already, i meanwhile think twice about doing any additional one which is above a buck)

  24. vernonlvincent

    And this is why you need to get Panos on Windows Weekly. I think you guys have a better track record of not misquoting.

  25. Peter Hamlin

    I have a Surface Pro 3 (about two years old) that has been upgraded with a SP4 type cover, stylus and dock. It's a great computer, and those three items are significant upgrades. My computer now seems like a Surface Pro 3.75.

    I have a core i5 256 Gig ssd model, and the performance is quite good. (Very ocasionally I run into performance limits with my music/multi-media production work, but in general I'm quite surprised by how well this little thing performs). For my next computer, I'd love to have 500 Gig, and Kaby Lake core i7, although I can live with what I have for now. If a Surface Pro model comes out with significantly better battery life, that'd entice me to upgrade.

    (If not, I might think about the Surface Book. But for somebody who commutes on foot and walks around a large college campus all day, it sure is nice to have a computer that weighs less than 2 lbs.)

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