Microsoft’s fall launch of new Surface models now has an official date: October 12. This date coincides with the launch of the Ignite IT Pro conference and, the following day, the Meta Connect event.
On September 21, Microsoft released a dedicated page for the event. On this page, it simply says “Watch Live to See What’s Next” with a watercolor version of the Windows wallpaper. The event will start at 4 p.m. (French time).
At the event, Microsoft is expected to announce a number of refreshed Surface-branded products. These products should not be related to the subjects of the metaverse, virtual reality and augmented reality, however, according to Microsoft observers at this stage. Various sites are predicting that Microsoft will introduce a new Surface Laptop 5, its large-screen Surface Studio 3 all-in-one desktop, and the Surface Pro 9 family of 2-in-1 convertibles. Microsoft may also launch a gaming laptop of the Surface brand at the event, which, in theory, doesn’t seem too far-fetched given the importance Microsoft places on Xbox gaming services. (But for now, most company watchers don’t seem to give the rumor much credence).
Microsoft bets on Arm
It looks like a big theme for the Surface launch in the fall will be Microsoft betting more and more on Arm for some of its products. As Windows Central first reported, Surface Pro 9 could include Intel and Arm-based models, which would be a not-so-subtle positioning statement about how Microsoft thinks its Windows-on- Arm is ready.
Speaking of Arm, Microsoft may also use its October 12 event to announce the availability of “Project Volterra” which it first revealed at its Build conference in May. Project Volterra is an Arm-based desktop PC that Microsoft is positioning as a workstation for developers, particularly suitable for AI since it integrates a neural processing unit (NPU) from Qualcomm.
When unveiling Project Volterra earlier this year, Microsoft officials put forward what they call a “cross-development model for building AI experiences spanning the cloud and edge,” which they dubbed it “Hybrid Loop”. This capability will be demonstrated by the ONNX runtime and Azure Machine Learning, as well as a prototype AI toolchain allowing developers to target CPUs, GPUs, Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) and NPUs. .
For about a year, Microsoft has intensified its work on Windows on Arm (WoA). For more than five years, Microsoft has been trying to make WoA a commercially viable alternative to Windows on Intel, but hasn’t had much success. Since Apple embarked on the Arm adventure with its own silicon, Microsoft officials seem to have decided to double down on the company’s work on Arm PCs by porting more of its own software natively to Arm.
However, Microsoft, at least for now, is dependent on Qualcomm bringing better Arm chips to the market for PCs. And that’s not expected to happen until late 2023 (or possibly later, given Arm’s recent lawsuit against Qualcomm.