Microsoft's Surface 2 launch: What to expect

Microsoft's Surface 2 launch: What to expect

Summary: Microsoft is readying its next-generation Surface tablets and peripherals for launch on September 23. Here's what we know (and think we know) on specs, pricing and availability.


On Monday, September 23, Microsoft will be launching (but not shipping) its next-generation Surface tablets at an invitation-only event in New York City.


In the past few weeks, lots of leaks have revealed much of what's expected to debut at the launch. Although Microsoft officials haven't commented on or confirmed these specs, I've heard and seen information that leads me to believe they are correct.

The new Surfaces are going to look almost identical to the current Surfaces, as they are going to use the same 10.6-inch screens and VaporMg casing and be compatible with the same snap-on keyboard/covers that the current Surfaces use.

They will have the same number of USB ports and they won't support LTE, just WiFi. The Surface 2, the successor to Surface RT, will be an ARM-based (Tegra 4) tablet with an estimated eight hours of battery life. It will feature a new ClearType full HD display, the one that debuted on the Surface Pro earlier this year. The Surface Pro 2, the successor to the Surface Pro, will run an Intel Core i5-based Haswell processor, and allegedly get seven hours of battery life instead of just four to five hours.

Windows SuperSite editor Paul Thurrott has the full list of expected Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 specs, including weight, thickness, ports, etc.

The more interesting part of Monday's Surface launch, in my view, are the new Surface peripherals. In spite of Microsoft's claims last year that the company had no intentions of making a Surface Pro docking station, they built one. The new Surface docking station is expected to work with Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 models only. It is expected to include one USB 3 and three USB 2 ports, according to leaks.

And the expected Surface Power Cover -- a thicker version of the Surface Type cover/keyboard, is coming, too. This cover will include a built-in battery that will extend the battery life of Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 devices by some (still unknown) amount. I'm expecting new Touch and Type covers in a variety of colors at Monday's launch, too.

What about pricing and availability?

There are two big questions going into Microsoft's Surface 2 launch: Device availability and pricing. Obviously, Microsoft execs aren't commenting on either.

I've heard from one of my sources who has been in the loop on Surface information (and asked to remain anonymous) that both the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 may be generally available on or around October 22 -- right around the time Window 8.1 is generally available, which is October 18.

I don't know if Microsoft will take preorders. I also don't have any information as to what the international and/or reseller distribution strategies look like. Microsoft was slow to make the first-generation Surfaces available outside the U.S. I am not sure what's changed in the company's distribution plans or capabilities on that front.

According to my source, it sounds like there are no huge price cuts in the works, which will surely disappoint those who've been expecting the so-so reception of first-generation Surfaces to have made Microsoft rethink its Surface pricing.

The aforementioned source told me that Microsoft is planning to continue to sell its first-generation Surfaces alongside its new Surfaces. The supposed plan is to keep Surface RT pricing at its current level ($349.99 for the 32GB model with no cover included) and introduce the 32GB Surface 2 at $499. A 64 GB Surface 2 will start at $599, the source said.

The Surface Pro will continue to start at $799. Surface Pro 2 will start at $899 for a 64GB version, according to the aforementioned source. There will be 128 GB, 256 GB and 512 GB models available at $999, $1,299 and $1,699, respectively, according to this source.

Touch and Type covers are still going to be priced separately, from what I've heard, as will the docking station.

I initially shared some of this pricing information as my "Rumor of the Week" on yesterday's recording of Windows Weekly (as some eagle-eared live listeners heard).

Keep in mind, this pricing and availability information is from one source only. The actual pricing/availability -- if Microsoft announces that information on Monday -- may be different.

Monday's Surface 2 event won't be streamed live, according to Microsoft. But I'll be filing and blogging from it, starting around 10:30 a.m. ET on September 23. Also: The Surface team will be doing a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) on September 23 at 3 p.m. EST, as well, where anyone can submit questions.

Topics: Microsoft Surface, Microsoft, Mobility, Tablets, PCs


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Do you know or suspect that that the Surface 2's new display

    will support the active digitizer pen that was included with the Surface Pro gen 1 device? If it is the same display than that is a possibility.
    • The only thing that really matters is "Will it run Linux?"

      I have been able to pick up the brand new Surfaces by the pallet full from the scrap yard, for $25 - not each, the WHOLE pallet full.

      The rest of you are getting ripped off big time.
      Wroger Wroger
      • Setting up a Surface Data Center?

        Got them all racked and stacked running massively parallel computing work?
      • $25 for a pallet?

        After having an RT for 6 months, I think $25 for a pallet is a fair price. The RT was the most useless device I have ever owned. If it ran Linux, it would be much better, but the Surfaces have secure boot. Good luck unloading those!
      • Give me one!

        I'd love to have one.
      • I'll Double Youf Profit

        I',, give you $50 for 2 units
      • Sorry Wroger, we can small your lie from a distance of a 1000 miles away

        What is odd is that you felt the need to fabricate such a lie.

        Ask yourself why you had to do that.
        John Zern
      • Wroger Wronger the fool. I had to laugh after reading what you paid

        While you were paying $25 I wondered why Apple never released actual iPad mini numbers and I found out why after a little investigation.

        I paid $10 per PALLET for all the leftover minis. Not Surface or Android tablets, actual Apple iPads!

        it's Idiots like you that let me enjoy the life I lead.

        William Farrel
      • I call BS on your comment

        Refurbished Surface RTs that show up on ebay, stock that number in the thousands, sell out at $200 within a day. What moron would sell you a pallet of band new ones for $25 each unless they are the worse business person on the face of the earth.

        And this is regardless of whether you value them or not, others do. $200 for a USED ONE is the current going rate.
        Rann Xeroxx
      • Purchase Location

        Where did you purchase the cheap devices?
        Corro'll Driskell
        • He's joking guys

          These devices aren't that cheap anywhere obviously. He's joking and taking a swipe at MS at the same time for them being that little in demand. Just check ebay. That's market rate.
    • MICROSOFT Missed the boat

      It's a shame Microsoft wasted millions on advertisement, the Surface could have been so much more successful and would have been self promoting, if the 32GB unit cost $250 and included MS OFFICE free for life.
  • No camera or speakers upgrade ?

    These are issues ont the Surface. The resolution of both camera is not very good and the speakers pushes distorted sounds. They need to address that.
    • Our speakers

      have been good on our RT, actually watch or listen with them.
      • Try a BB Playbook

        ....and you will hear good speakers on a tablet.

        Surface speakers are bad and the sound system pilot is even worst. They also are oriented sideways instead of in front like the Playbook speakers are.

        I like my Surface (RT). I use it every day. But to be honest, I think the Playbook's peripherals are a lot better.
    • surface camera

      is el poo poo
      • so it's similar

        to 90% of all tablet cameras. You don't want to be that guy running around with a tablet as his primary camera.
        • Think "face camera"

          I do agree that there are too many people who look ridiculous using a tablet as a camera.

          But today, tablets are perfect for video calls.
        • Use case

          I use my front facing camera on my tablet for taking pics of products or white boards, etc to apply directly into OneNote.

          There are other reasons to use a tablet camera.
          Rann Xeroxx
    • Re: No camera or speakers upgrade ?

      I have heard from a reliable source that these new Surface 2 tablets are being produced by Nokia. If that is true then hopefully Nokia had their hands in improving the camera as well. The cameras on the Nokia Lumia phones is very good.