Don't expect a pair of Surface Earbuds under the Christmas tree this year: Microsoft has backtracked on its previous announcement that the devices would ship in time for the holiday season, and stated instead that the earbuds won't launch before spring 2020.
The company's chief product officer Panos Panay tweeted yesterday that getting "all the details right" for the product is taking more time than "we planned on", without providing further details about the reasons for the delay.
The Surface Earbuds were set to challenge Apple's recently released AirPods Pro – except Microsoft's product is now missing the crucial 2019 holiday shopping season, while the Cupertino giant is already shipping its new earbuds.
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Microsoft presented the earbuds last month at its annual developers conference. Coming at $249, they support up to eight hours of listening on a single charge; this can be extended with the carrying case, which provides an additional three charges.
By comparison, the AirPods Pro offer 4.5 hours of listening on one charge and cost the same price.
The Surface Earbuds, like Apple's devices, have two microphones built in for noise cancellation. They use tap-and-swipe controls that allow you to access Spotify playlists without touching your phone.
In addition, Microsoft's product is due to have on-the-fly translation capabilities with support for 60 languages, and has Cortana assistance built in. They are also expected to have full integration with software such as Office 365's Outlook calendar and email or PowerPoint.
The design of the earbuds includes a large disc that stays outside the ear – a risky decision that has been received with mixed feelings from consumers, but at least differentiates the Surface device from Apple's AirPods.
Another contender has emerged recently in the earbuds space, as Amazon started shipping its entry-level Echo Buds at $129 last month.
The Alexa-powered device, reviewed by ZDNet, doesn't "blaze new trails in earbud technology" but offers a decent and cheaper alternative to existing products.
With the new delay announced by Microsoft, 2020 will see the release of three Surface products, as the Surface Neo and the Surface Duo are also expected to launch next year as well.