Live coverage: Microsoft unveils next-generation Surface tablets

Microsoft Surface 2 Liveblog

Microsoft’s first-generation Surface tablets were surprising in a number of ways. The fact that this was Microsoft’s first ever tablet effort and the hardware was so gorgeous and well-designed blew us away. But unfortunately, the other surprises were bad ones — namely the half-baked Windows RT operating system on the Surface RT and the relatively high price tags on both models. Microsoft ended up pulling in $853 million from sales of its Surface tablets during fiscal 2013, but it also took a $900 million charge related to moving unsold Surface inventory. It has been almost a year since the first Surface tablet debuted though, and hopefully Microsoft learned from its mistakes. Will the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 be a different story? Will Microsoft add a third tablet to its lineup to compete with the iPad mini? Our live coverage, which will be updated periodically with photos and text coverage, follows below.

UPDATE: Our hands-on preview of the new Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 can be found here.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein

Our hands-on preview of the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 is now live — click here to check it out!

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Zach Epstein

Ok guys, that’s a wrap. We’re going to go check out the new Surface models and we’ll have a hands-on preview shortly.

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Zach Epstein

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Zach Epstein

The original model will also get Windows 8.1 and Microsoft’s full Office suite with Outlook.

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Zach Epstein

Surface RT will still be available at $349, Surface 2 starts at $449 and Surface Pro 2 will start at $899.

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Zach Epstein

Tomorrow at 8AM EDT preorders become available for all of the new Surface products. October 22nd is the launch date.

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Zach Epstein

Panay is now remixing a Linkin Park/ Steve Aioki song using the cover pictured below.

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Zach Epstein

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Zach Epstein

The gist of the video was basically a group of students playing with the new Touch Cover. They were able to design a variety of different button arrangements and they can all be supported by the cover since the entire cover is packed full of sensors.

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Zach Epstein

(Demo video included a launch date — October 22nd is when the new Surface 2 launched)

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Zach Epstein

Demo time, lots of dubstep.

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Zach Epstein

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Zach Epstein

On top of all that, the new Touch Cover supports gestures.

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Zach Epstein

There’s also a new predictive typing feature that corrects words even when you miss keys or hit the wrong keys.

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Zach Epstein

The new cover now features 1,092 integrated sensors compared to 80 sensors in the first-generation cover. The result is a much more accurate typing experience, according to Microsoft.

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Zach Epstein

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Zach Epstein

Now we’re seeing Touch Cover 2, which is also back-lit just like the new Type Cover! And it’s only 2.5mm thick.

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Zach Epstein

Surface 2 comes with 200GB of SkyDrive storage, and it now costs $449 for the entry-level model.

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Zach Epstein

We’re now seeing a demo of the recovery features on the Surface 2. Panay just handed his Surface 2, which he says has a roadmap of three years worth of Surface generations, to Mary Jo Foley and in mere minutes he was able to mirror all of his content on a new Surface 2 thanks to SkyDrive. No word yet on whether or not Foley cracked Panay’s password.

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Zach Epstein

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Microsoft is offering free international calling with Skype along with each Surface 2 purchase. That could be BIG for a lot of people.

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Zach Epstein

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Zach Epstein

The Surface 2 also includes a new rear camera that is five times better than the original optics. The front camera is improved as well.

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Zach Epstein

We’re now seeing halo running alongside Outlook in split-screen mode. If you can play Halo while reading and sending emails, we salute you.

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Zach Epstein

Office apps still run in desktop mode and Panay is showing us a demo of all four apps running at the same time. Surface 2 also features a 72-core GPU for vastly improved gaming performance.

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Zach Epstein

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Zach Epstein

The new Surface 2 comes with the full Office suite this time around, including Outlook.

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Zach Epstein

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Zach Epstein

The original Surface launched with 10,000 apps but as of today, there are more than 100,000 apps in the Windows Store that will all of course be available on the new Surface from day one.

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Zach Epstein

And by the way the rumors were indeed correct — the new model is available in white in addition to the original slate black color.

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Zach Epstein

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Panay says he gets 12 hours of battery life out of the Surface 2 in his personal use.

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Zach Epstein

The new Surface 2 case is built from two pieces of Magnesium instead of two, so it’s thinner than the original model. Battery life has still been improved by 25% though, which is huge.

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Zach Epstein

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Zach Epstein

The Surface 2 features the same full HD display as the Pro 2, in fact. 

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Zach Epstein

The Surface 2 is faster in every way possible according to Panay. Microsoft has completely revamped the device, doubled the bus speed, increased the CPU speed and also added a new full HD display.

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Zach Epstein

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Zach Epstein

Next up is the Surface 2, which Panay says is a complete revamp of the original Surface RT model. According to Panay, the new Surface tablet with Windows RT is all about helping people get more done — to be productive while having fun.

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Zach Epstein

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Zach Epstein

The Type Cover two also features back-lit keys, which is a huge, huge addition that’s remarkably impressive considering it’s even thinner than the first version.

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Zach Epstein

When you try it you will “be able to feel, but also not hear, how productive this product can be,” Panay says.

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Zach Epstein

Beyond just the new colors, Panay says the second-generation Type Cover is 1mm thinner than the original covers. It also features completely redesigned keys with less travel and faster throw. It’s also silent, which is pretty awesome.

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Zach Epstein

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Zach Epstein

Next up, Type Cover 2. New colors are being emphasized.

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Zach Epstein

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Zach Epstein

We’re now seeing a demo of the Pro 2 processing raw 6k resolution video footage without even breaking a sweat. 

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Also introduced is a new docking station for the Pro 2. The unit can be docked without even having to remove any attached keyboard covers — pretty great feature. It also supports better-than-HD video out for external monitors.

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On top of the battery improvements inside the device, the company is also introducing a new “Power Cover” keyboard accessory that more than doubles the battery life of the Pro 2. 2.5 times more battery life, according to Panay.

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Zach Epstein

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Next up, Microsoft confirms that it added a new Haswell processor to the Surface Pro 2, but the battery life improvements go well beyond that. Not only does the new Pro operate cooler and quieter, but it also features a 75% improvement in battery life. That is HUGE.

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Zach Epstein

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Zach Epstein

The Surface Pro 2 also features a new kickstand design that supports multiple viewing angles — that was a big issue with the first model that Microsoft says it has resolved. People of all heights can now use the Pro 2 comfortably.

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Zach Epstein

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Panay says the original Pro was already faster than 94% of the laptops on the market, but the Pro 2 is now 20% faster. “Lightning fast,” the exec says.

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Zach Epstein

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Zach Epstein

The second-generation Surface Pro features an HD display just like the original model, but Panay says some huge improvements have been made to really improve color reproduction. Microsoft also added Dolby sound to the new model, which will definitely be appreciated.

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Zach Epstein

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Zach Epstein

Microsoft VP Panos Panay is now on stage to kick things off. Here we go! Microsoft is starting out by introducing the Surface Pro 2, which Microsoft has been developing since before the first model launched.

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Zach Epstein

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Zach Epstein

Microsoft announced that the show should begin shortly and it looks like everyone is seated and ready to go.

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Zach Epstein

Wi-Fi here is already awful and the show hasn’t even started yet, so please bare with us when, not if, connectivity issues arise.

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Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein

Ok guys we’re all set up and the show should start in about 10 minutes.

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