Disappointing Surface Laptop 4, Pro 8 Images Leak

Posted on November 27, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface with 44 Comments

Images of the next-generation Surface Laptop and Surface Pro show that Microsoft isn’t changing the design of either product for 2021. That’s disappointing.

Two images have leaked courtesy of the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards, with a Twitter user finding them and republishing them in a tweet. The first shows Surface Laptop 4 and the second shows Surface Pro 8, both of which look identical to their predecessors.

This is particularly disappointing for the Pro model, which has had the same basic design since the Surface Pro 3 in 2014, especially given that there is a svelter and more modern-looking Surface Pro X. I had hoped and expected that Surface Pro 8 would adopt the Pro X design. In the good news department, it looks like we’re getting an LTE-capable Surface Pro 8 at least.

As for Surface Laptop, it seems like Microsoft could have followed other PC makers and offered the same display size in a smaller, thinner, and lighter package with smaller bezels. But there’s no evidence of that.


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Comments (52)

52 responses to “Disappointing Surface Laptop 4, Pro 8 Images Leak”

  1. SenorGravy

    For being a Premium line, Microsoft sure does mail it in a lot, effort wise.

  2. MachineGunJohn

    Most important questions for Surface Laptop 4 with 11th gen and new integrated graphics:

    Fanless now?

    Screen resolution now?

    Third monitor now?

    Battery life now?

    Fast charging / thunderbolt over USBC now?

    The answers to these will provide insight as to whether Panos has finally stepped up his game or not because there's been no sign of that for far too long. These are supposed to be the devices that inspire other ones to step up, not lag them.

  3. Chris_Kez

    Maybe they’ve spent all their design energy from 2020 and 2021 on Surface Duo and it’s inevitable follow up.

  4. robinwilson16

    I really like Surface Pro from a design point of view (or did anyway as is looking a little dated but is still small and light and easy to carry around) but the performance of the fastest Core i7 Surface Pro 7 is really bad and it even struggles with just Outlook and Teams when connected to the dock and I must wait for text I type to appear with fans blasting at full power and I'm not sure what I can do. Microsoft have already replaced it once due to it running at almost 100oC and throttling to 200MHz after just 2 months of use. Whilst the replacement is not yet at that stage I feel it is heading that way and screens often disconnect briefly from the Dock which is also annoying. I really just want them to give me my money back so I can buy something that works efficiently. Maybe the device is too thin for its own good. Even when not throttling it feels significantly slower than the old Surface Pro 4 I upgraded from. Maybe a slower and cooler CPU would actually be faster due to not needing to throttle.

  5. nbates66

    What I'm really hoping for is to see more of AMD's chips inside this products, particularly Zen3 cores. Want to see what AMD can do for us with a 15W chip in a Surface Pro sized tablet.

  6. StevenLayton

    Curious, what exactly are people wanting from a redesigned Laptop and Pro, design and style wise? There is only so much you can do.

  7. will

    I would guess these might just get a quiet release. But it is frustrating that after 5 years, nothing is changing design wise. They should shrink the bezels and give a larger screen in the same size if nothing else.

    What I am curious about is if there are any changes coming to the Surface Book...

  8. mclark2112

    I actually think the surface is great as is. I am fine with no huge update. I just wish it had a slightly larger screen.

  9. earlster

    I'm still using my SP4 and might need some kind of replacement in the next year. However, unless the battery becomes replaceable I'll have to look elsewhere. As it is, I have 30-40mins of battery life left, so it's relegated to be plugged in all the time, which defeats it's purpose.

  10. jwpear

    I think it is time to open these devices up and make the battery, RAM, and storage easily serviceable. That would be truly innovative in the premium device segment.

  11. ivarh

    Intel and most likely AMD is like dead men walking at this point. ARM and Apple has just killed them. You now have a platform that uses 20% of the power to run even emulated apps at a reasonable performance. Once the bean counters in companies start realising this there will suddenly be a economical reason to get off x86. The power savings (both for cooling and running the systems) will pay for the costs of porting applications to these plattforms. Gamers might stick to Intel but I have a feeling the business market will start moving to this platform in their data centres and offices as soon as they realise the cost savings on power alone.

    • james.h.robinson

      In reply to ivarh:

      I think the "dead men walking" is a bit of hyperbole. To start with, enterprises tend to buy computers in large numbers at a time. Therefore, they care more about upfront capital expenditures more than long-term electric bills. Part of the reason why x86 dominates desktops and data center is because of the architecture's traditional focus on performance/price over performance/watt. So, while Intel might be falling behind, x86 will endure overall.

      Also, bear in mind that Intel provides everything from CPUs to reference computers to OEMs. That reduces the OEMs' R&D costs. That will help Intel continue to exist.

      And regarding porting apps, what about line of business apps that will be difficult to move to a different architecture? Is it worth the cost and/or risk? One of x86's biggest advantages and biggest disadvantages is backward compatibility.

  12. peterc

    I think the old models and chassis designs will be maintained a whiles longer. The new upcoming win10X kit, will likely be the new chassis designs and probably new AMD and ARM chipsets etc and the surface pro etc will adopt the new chasis designs at the same time.

    This is why we’re seeing the old surface pro design for the 8th gen, as the win 10x kit and new chips, chassis launches etc got booted back to summer/autumn 2021, and now will combine with the next big update to windows, android apps etc etc.

    One things that puzzles me is will the surface duo be the only surface device running android? I don’t think so... but it’s possible win10X with android apps might be seen as enough, but I’m not sure about that.

  13. garymaker

    As long as they keep that stupid proprietary docking port I am not wasting money on any of them.

  14. Rob_Wade

    I don't find it disappointing in the least. I like not having to purchase new accessories with each upgrade. I like the look and feel of the Surface tablets, without question. I just wish they weren't so expensive.

  15. riopato

    I think the focus should not be the design but the internals. Pro 8 and Laptop 4 must be in line with Intel EVO initiative at the very least if not better. Book and Studio should have nothing less than an RTX class discrete gpu at this point. Otherwise this iteration of their devices should be completely skippable and a testament to how out of touch Panos's team is with their Surface user base. They should just cancel the entire series at this point if the Pro doesn't come with iris or mx graphics and Laptop isn't at least an EVO device if not better. Also Pro X can hardly compete with iPad Pro let alone Mac OS on Arm and they should be ashamed that Apple can run x86 emulation better than software designed to run on Windows on x86! WTF are they doing and why don't they have 64bit emulation already?

  16. ecumenical

    Not sure the "change to Pro X form factor" talk is realistic. I'd expect it's more like pick any 2:

    • Pro X form factor
    • 15W x86 U-series chips
    • Acceptable thermals

    Personally I'm happy for them to prioritize performance over shaving millimeters off of the thickness, and it's obvious that Windows on ARM isn't ready for prime time yet so they can't drop x86 without cratering performance. Do Paul and others really want passively cooled Y-series CPUs or something?

    Thinner bezels would, of course, be nice.

  17. Truffles

    I find it disconcerting that I too have that ancient ruler and I too drilled a hole near the 40mm mark so it stays level when I hang it from a nail in my shed.

  18. glenn8878

    Mac Air and Pro is the exact same design. Every manufacturer kept their designs.

    • angusmatheson

      In reply to glenn8878:

      But this year the Apple computers did change the internals a lot. I suspect it is unlikely that these Microsoft computers are Windows on ARM machines..

      • mikegalos

        In reply to Angusmatheson:

        The discussion was on the design. That didn't get a "Disappointing MacBook Air and Pro Images Leak". For that matter, where is the annual article on "Disappointing iMac Images Leak"?

        • Paul Thurrott

          Apple fans love everything that Apple throws at them. Criticism is the domain of actual reviewers, i.e. "critics." Anyway. What I see here is disappointing. I don't give two F's about the iMac or its design.
          • nbplopes

            In reply to paul-thurrott:

            I think fans of any brand behave the same way regardless if they are Apple’s, Microsoft ... or whatever.

            I’m not a reviewer, but I guess that the main criticism regarding the Surface line is not actually the way it looks ... but its reliability. I personally don’t give to F’s about any design if the device is not as reliable as it is its price. You know, reports of random shutdowns, battery drain, over heating ... and Mary Joe’s Surface Laptop 3 still dead in the water. I can only imagine what would be the SP8 with Surface Pro X design ... would be fan.tastik.

      • shark47

        In reply to Angusmatheson:

        There will likely be a separate event for Windows on ARM machines later in the year. That said, these machines will likely have new internals in the form of new chips too. I am hoping for more AMD chips.

        • Jorge Garcia

          In reply to shark47:

          Even if the WOA movement is only reasonable for a sliver of the PC market right now, Microsoft and the OEMs still need to embrace it FULLY and have some "halo" products that at least attempt to keep up with Apple. People don't realize that this is a battle for the hearts and minds of young people, i.e. those who will be buying computers for themselves in a few years. We old Windows-loving farts are set in our ways, but young people have no such OS loyalty, and now they are going to be blanketed with ads that hammer home the idea that Windows PC's are less powerful AND consume twice as much battery - and cost the same! It's BAD.

  19. angusmatheson

    Any word what happened to Mary Jo’s surface laptop 3 that wouldn’t boot before windows weekly?

  20. shark47

    Doesn't the Pro look a little different with rounded edges? Also, this doesn't tell you anything about the size of the bezels. I think the bigger question is what chips they're going with. AMD chips generally seem to be outperforming Intel ones and holding their own against the new M1 chip.

  21. brettscoast

    Underwhelming at best.

  22. wbonner

    I like the form factor of the Surface Pro 7. I have a Surface Pro 4 that I'm looking to upgrade, and really want an evolutionary upgrade that's simply faster, more storage, and more battery life.

    I'd perhaps like the option of cellular data and a GPS chip, but can't think of what else I'd want.

    What kind of changes do you want that leave you and most other journalists disappointed with the leaked units?

    • wbonner

      In reply to wbonner:

      Further thinking on my part related to the bezel size, which I like.

      The size of the bezel allows for the angle of the keyboard when it's attached, which is certainly useful. It also allows for the symmetry in size without a notch for the centered cameras.

      It's good for me and my fat fingers when I pick up the device without having to worry about hitting buttons on the screen near the edge. That could be taken care of with software decisions, similar to palm rejection, but it's easier to not worry about it at all.

    • earlster

      In reply to wbonner:

      User replaceable battery. My SP4 has 30-40 mins battery runtime left. Unless they fix that, I won't buy a newer model.

    • jmclapp

      In reply to wbonner:

      I agree -- I have a Surface Pro 2017 (5), and love the form factor and design. Been extremely pleased with the device. My only requests would be LTE support, and better battery life.

  23. simard57

    "The first shows Surface Laptop 4 and the second shows Surface Pro 8, both of which look identical to their predecessors."

    are the pictures swapped? is the first the SP8 and the latter the Surface Laptop 4?

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