Did Microsoft Just Ruin Its October Surface Announcement?

Posted on September 27, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface with 56 Comments

Did Microsoft Just Ruin Its October Surface Announcement?

There are leaks, and then there are things just make you wonder. This falls into the latter category.

As you may recall, Microsoft recently revealed that Surface head Panos Panay would appear at a London event in October, fueling speculation that he would announce the arrival of the previously-revealed new Surface Pro with LTE. This triggered an investigation—partly based on insider information, partly on educated guessing—into what the Surface release schedule might look like going forward.

All sources point to the October appearance being nothing more than the Surface Pro LTE announcement. That this is the only reason Mr. Panay is going to get up on a stage and address an audience publicly.

So it is with some confusion that I can now report that Microsoft this week actually revealed that the Surface Pro LTE models will be made available globally on December 1. That, as Neowin notes, it will be sold in two configurations: Core i5/4 GB RAM/128 GB SSD and Core i5/8 GB/256 GB. These revelations came from a session at Ignite this week in Orlando.

Why on earth would someone from Microsoft blurt out this information just weeks before these devices were officially announced?

I cant only speculate. But I see two possibilities here.

One, the more likely scenario, that this was a mistake on the speaker’s part, and that he has been suitably chastised for this.

Or two, something a bit more interesting.

Maybe Surface Pro LTE isn’t the only announcement we’ll get in October. Maybe this October event is really about something else. Always-Connected PCs perhaps. Or even Windows on ARM.

That is, perhaps we’re going to see some combination of Surface Pro and Surface Laptop revisions that will be in one or both of those camps. Always-Connected PCs, which use embedded SIMs, or e-SIMs (on either Intel or ARM). Or, better yet, Surface Pro and Surface Laptop revisions that utilize the ARM architecture (and are thus also Always-Connected PCs).

Revealing this information at Ignite doesn’t make sense. Something is going on here.


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Comments (56)

56 responses to “Did Microsoft Just Ruin Its October Surface Announcement?”

  1. jimchamplin

    A new down-market device to replace Surface 3? ARM-based and ships with 10 S would be fine with me as long as it’s under $500 to compete with the $329 iPad. $499 would be a sweet spot. Between Apple’s entry level and Pro iPads, but offering a comparable ink experience to the iPad Pro.

    • Polycrastinator

      In reply to jimchamplin:

      Haven't we heard repeatedly that these ARM devices are not going to be cheap, down market PCs though? My understanding was that they're likely to start as premium devices and then gradually move down market.

      • wshwe

        In reply to Polycrastinator:

        Look for the ARM devices to be priced $150-$200 more than their non-connected counterparts. It will take a year for Always Connected PCs to fully penetrate the marketplace. I also expect carriers to charge exorbitant prices for their associated data plans. Carriers fear that people with Always Connected PCs will use data like there is no tomorrow.

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to jimchamplin:

      If Microsoft thought there was a market for $350 - $500 tablet PCs, I think they would leave that space open for their OEM partners to compete. I would expect a Surface product like you're describing to start at $600 - $700, i.e. priced comparable to iPad Pro and at a premium relative to what other PC manufacturers would offer. Microsoft has shown zero inclination to back off the premium pricing for Surface (some would say ultra premium for the higher priced SKUs).

  2. jrickel96

    It's likely much bigger than just the Surface Pro with LTE. Probably that plus and the introduction of e-sims into the Windows ecosystem. Since it is being shown abroad, I expect Microsoft will highlight all the different carriers that will sell data in the marketplace compatible with the e-sim. If the Surface team has been working on an ultra compact convertible, we may see that too, but I'm not holding my breath.

    I could see the announcement of the Surface Pro LTE. An announcement of the global infrastructure for cellular data in Windows 10. They could tease products from other OEMs, though they could share the stage with them as well.

    We know Windows on ARM is due soon. We know there will be a lot of Windows with e-sim devices on the market, Intel and ARM, in the upcoming months.

    I also wonder if they could port a carrier phone # to Skype. Skype could make your number portable across devices, including Android and iOS. I think Skype needs A LOT of work, but it has the underlying infrastructure to make a number truly portable and eliminate the need for a phone plan by shifting everything to VoIP.

    Frankly, MS should have done what Google has done with Project Fi but done it with Skype and opened the service up to a large range of phones.

  3. plettza

    I'm a speculate and say Surface Band. It snaps around your wrist and works like any fitness band but when you take it off, it converts to a 1.5" tablet which can also convert to a small notebook thanks to a type cover. A three in one of sorts.

    But it'll only run Windows 10 S. So no Photoshop for power users.

  4. Username

    Microsoft will announce new version of Trackball Explorer. Finally.

  5. Tony Barrett

    Does anyone really care anymore *what* Microsoft announces? The only ones they're really trying to appease are the Enterprise, as MS falls headlong into losing the consumer completely and obviously they will eventually become IBMv2.

    I just imagine senior Microsoft meetings about consumer strategy and direction are generally a bunch of suites starting idly out of the windows as they pick at their nails while throwing balls of paper into waste bins that have those mini basketball hoops on, as others play with the height adjustment on their executive leather chairs. They all take in their Surfaces with OneNote ready to go, and come out with nothing written down at all except the date of their next meeting. That's a strategy for you!

  6. PanamaVet

    They're going to sell TV's for a couple of years...

  7. Dan

    Maybe its an announcement on the plans for Hololens?

  8. Pierre Masse

    Don't underestimate the power of stupidity, particularly in this era.

  9. ayebang

    Hey. What about New Surface ?

    Did anyone use it and how well it is ?

    I am using New Surface Pro and it is very OK.

    What about you ?

  10. Marius Muntean

    Microsoft is talking crap as always! Those guys do not even know how to communicate :))) Pathetic!

  11. webdev511

    Satya already said that there would be a Surface Pro with LTE I think back at Inspire or even during the Surface Laptop announcement, so that piece of information isn't some huge reveal.

  12. edboyhan

    In reply to a question I asked at the Ignite Surface/LTE session MS explicitly stated that the Surface/LTE will support embedded SIM. You need to be careful here because the eSim functional reality lies with the carriers -- so while the Surface/LTE will have the necessaries to support embedded Sim, it's my understanding that the carriers are not quite there yet.

    As to always connected PC's there is a Sim slot on the Surface/LTE, and so depending on whatever data business arrangements you make with carriers as you travel around (and with the Sims you purchase as you venture into foreign geographies), you functionally can have an always connected laptop.

    The modem used will support almost all bands worldwide (and even some unannounced ones).

    Oh, and the device is fanless.

    I thought I heard them talking about a core I7 version with LTE (and a fan) -- maybe to come later?

    The only things they didn't talk about were dates and prices -- from the tenor of the session I don't think there were any "inadvertent" leaks -- they were very explicit about configurations and internal H/W design.

    October 31 is not that far away ... patience patience (:grin)

  13. dave0

    Does anyone want any of this? I have been able to get an LTE connection on my latop for years. I already have the accessory when I need it and its a pretty tiny addition to my existing ultrabook. It seems to me like this would be a niche inside a niche.

  14. bbold

    Sadly, the world won't be 'interested' unless it's a brand new device. I don't even think a Surface Book 2 would raise eyebrows at this point. At any rate, I'm sure Microsoft will pull out of this prematurely, too, so I won't be watching.

  15. haizelmaeem

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  16. ndwilder

    Lenovo has had LTE connected laptops for 5+ years now...not sure why this is a thing...we had 4/5 Surface Pro 3's go bad...20+ firmware updates...and while I admire the intent and design, I cannot risk investing in this platform further. Wanna impress me? MAke a wireless display technology that works as well as AirPlay, seriously. And though I'm not a Mac guy, I respect their designs.

  17. DixonLeung

    Has anyone here ever successfully used a Surface 3 with LTE with a Google Project Fi data only SIM card? I have not. If you have, please let me know. I followed all the steps on Project Fi page, contacted Google and Microsoft, no success.

    I travel quite a bit. If the Surface Pro with LTE also cannot work with a Project Fi sim card, it's viable for me.

    • jrickel96

      In reply to DixonLeung:

      Windows with LTE going forward will use e-sims. The sim card is dying and the future is embedded sims that can be reprogrammed on the fly so you can buy data in a marketplace where all carriers compete against each other. Microsoft is embracing this and the spec for Intel and ARM Windows machines with LTE support includes the e-sim. You won't be able to put a sim card in it. But in a few years, your phone will be the same. As soon as Apple adopts it, the removable sim will be dead.

    • will

      In reply to DixonLeung:

      The upcoming Surface Pro will support BOTH eSIM and regular SIM cards. It is a “world device” and supports just about every band with the exception of the 600Mhz TMobile just got this year.

  18. bulls96

    still praying for surface book 2

  19. maethorechannen

    There is a third option - Panos is basically going on a corporate jolly and there will be no announcements, just some Surface cheerleading, followed by food, drink, maybe some pre-holiday shopping.

    If there are going to be announcements, I would expect more than just LTE Surfaces. It's a long, long way to go just to say "look, we added LTE radios to pre-existing devices". As the event is called "Future Decoded" and WoA is the future, my money would be on something related to that.

  20. david.thunderbird

    Keep on keeping on, there is no there here, The answers you are looking for are not here. Move along.

  21. toph36

    Why would they have a big event for a device they already said was going to be released this year? Seems like there would be more to this event in October.

  22. harmjr

    I am hoping its more then just Surface Pro with LTE.

  23. VasiS

    So there is no hope for a new Surface Book? I'm looking forward to getting a new revision instead of buying a 2yr old device.

  24. Jules Wombat

    ssshhhh OK just keep quite, and act surprised in Oct everybody.

  25. emanon2121

    The surprise is the next hololens. It's about that time to introduce the next one.

  26. MikeFromMarkham

    Hey, look... It's the mythical Surface Phone at last... Won't quite fit in your pocket however...

  27. StevenLayton

    I've heard rumours that a Surface Phone might be shown off...


  28. MutualCore

    Since when was Surface Pro w/LTE a BIG hardware announcement anyways? What people really want is Surface Book 2, Surface 4 with ARM.

  29. CompUser

    Oh cool. Let's all once again speculate about what we think Microsoft is doing, and then be pissed off about yet another Microsoft "failure to deliver" when our speculation doesn't come true. I love it!

  30. t1618

    Mm, why would Panos be the guy to reveal an LTE slot? Something's afoot. Something wonderful

  31. VancouverNinja

    When are they doing their role out of Invoke and the Johnson Control's Glas? I thought they were doing a launch this fall.

  32. dstrauss

    Paul - I know you and Mary Jo have often quoted "WalkingCat" on the rumor mill - any thoughts about his Surface Book 2 speculation of a 15" version coming this fall?