Microsoft is holding a fall hardware launch in late October, where I'm hearing it will take the wraps off a Surface-branded device, which some of my contacts are saying is known as "Cardinal".
I've heard that Surface Cardinal could be positioned as a product that can turn your desk into "a studio". My bet: Cardinal is the rumored Surface All-in-One device running Windows 10, which may come in one, two, and/or three different screen sizes (21, 24 ,or 27), as first reported by Windows Central. This may be the consumer-focused version of Microsoft's Surface Hub, as Windows Central speculated, using the Perceptive Pixel screen technology that's at the core of Surface Hub.
(I don't know if "Cardinal" is a codename or a final name. I'm betting codename.)
Microsoft applied for a patent for an all-in-one modular PC in 2015, which was published in February 2016.
Microsoft, predictably, isn't sharing specifics as to what it will showcase at the event, or even acknowledging there will be such an event. I asked.
Last I heard, this fall rollout might feature minor refreshes of some of the company's existing Surface tablets with newer, faster, processors and possibly a couple other minor feature updates. But new devices like the expected Surface Book 2 and Surface Pro 5 aren't likely to get their big reveals until spring 2017. Surface Phone, if it does materialize, could be considerably later, sources say.
I've heard nothing about if or when Microsoft plans to roll out updates to its Atom-based Surface 3 or Microsoft Band 2. My contacts are saying not to expect updates to either device this calendar year.
I've heard that Microsoft will also highlight a bunch of OEM devices at the fall hardware launch, rather than making it an event all about Microsoft hardware like last year's fall launch. Last year, Microsoft's fall hardware event in New York City on Oct. 6 served as its launchpad for the Surface Book, Surface Pro 4, Band 2.0, and Lumia 950/950 XL phones.
One of my contacts said this fall's hardware launch day has its own codename, which is "Project Rio". I'm hearing the actual date is likely the last week of October, possibly on Oct. 26. If I were to guess as to the location, I'd predict it will be in New York City again.
Microsoft has used the Rio codename before to refer to a game-streaming service, but it ultimately killed that service before it was released, my sources have said.