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Microsoft releases Surface Pro tablet for business and education

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Key Points
  • Microsoft's new Surface Pro 7+ for Business is not available to consumers, at least for now.
  • The device is available with an LTE modem and up to 32GB of RAM, along with new chips and more battery life than the Surface Pro 7 from 2019.
Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp., speaks during the unveiling of the Surface Pro 3 at an event in New York on May 20, 2014.
Jin Lee | Bloomberg | Getty

Microsoft on Monday introduced the Surface Pro 7+ for Business, a version of its Surface Pro 7 convertible tablet from 2019 that's designed for commercial and education customers. It comes with a new Intel processor and cellular connectivity so you can get online when you don't have Wi-Fi. The base model costs $899, and LTE versions start at $1,149.

Surface revenue growth accelerated in the second and third quarter as people rushed to buy PCs to continue school and work while staying home. Still, Microsoft's grip on the PC hardware market remains smaller than Apple, Dell, HP and Lenovo.

The arrival of the PC shows Microsoft is experimenting further with its Surface lineup, using a plus sign to distinguish the product, as competing computer maker Apple has done, for the first time.

The current Surface concept debuted in 2012, under former CEO Steve Ballmer. Satya Nadella replaced Ballmer as CEO in 2014 and over time reduced Microsoft's focus on consumers, such as exiting the e-book and music streaming markets. Now there's a Surface model that's just for business users.

Normally, each fall Microsoft comes out with a new Surface Pro, but this fall, as the coronavirus pandemic impacted supply chains for gadgets like the iPhone 12 and Microsoft's Xbox Series X, autumn came and went without a new Surface Pro 8. A spokesperson declined to comment on Microsoft's roadmap.

Microsoft's Surface Pro 7+ for Business does not come with an attachable keyboard; that accessory is sold separately.
Microsoft

And yet, the Surface Pro 7+ for Business looks almost exactly like the Surface Pro variants of past years. That's intentional.

"We made a commitment to commercial customers on continuity of form factor," said Robin Seiler, a Microsoft corporate vice president. Surface Pro owners have told the company that design changes such as even moving a microphone can cause complexity, Seiler said.

Seiler wouldn't say whether the new tablet will launch for consumers.

The device offers up to a terabyte of storage, along with up to 32GB of RAM, a supply of memory that can also be found on the premium Surface Book 3. The Surface Pro 7+ for Business also includes a removable solid-state drive, a feature that first arrived on the Surface Pro X in 2019.

Microsoft says the battery lasts as long as 15 hours, putting it on par with the Surface Pro X convertible tablet that relies on an Arm-based chip. The standard Surface Pro 7 comes with up to 10.5 hours of battery life.

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