- Microsoft unveiled new Surface computers and revealed details about the release of this year's version of Windows 11.
- The company introduced the Surface Laptop Studio 2 and the Surface Laptop Go 3.
- Microsoft also announced availability information for enterprises for the hotly anticipated Microsoft 365 Copilot, its supplemental AI tool.
Microsoft on Thursday unveiled new Surface computers and revealed details on the release of this year's version of Windows 11, including its embedded Copilot AI assistant, during an event in New York.
The company introduced the Surface Laptop Studio 2 and the Surface Laptop Go 3, and unveiled enterprise availability for Microsoft 365 Copilot, its supplemental AI tool for core productivity apps such as Word and Excel.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella began the event by speaking about how the company's Copilot AI tools will make a broad impact across its user base for consumers and enterprises.
"I mean, it's crazy," he said. "It's kind of like the '90s are back. It's exciting to be in a place where we're bringing some software innovation and really having fun enjoying this entire journey."
The Surface Laptop Studio 2 starts at $1,999, while the Surface Laptop Go 3 starts at $799. Both will ship with Microsoft's revamped Windows 11 operating system, which includes its Copilot software. The new Surface models will be available Oct. 3 and are available for preorder Thursday, Microsoft said.
Notably absent from the event was Panos Panay, the Microsoft executive who presented Surface computers to the public for a decade. On Monday Microsoft announced a series of leadership changes as it disclosed that Panay was leaving.
Here's a rundown of Thursday's news:
Microsoft said it will begin rolling out the next major update to Windows 11 on Sept. 26.
The update will include the new Copilot in the Bing search engine and the Edge web browser, and people will be able to summon the Copilot by holding down the Windows key and pressing the C key.
Aaron Woodman, VP of Windows marketing at Microsoft, said bringing Copilot to the operating system will be significant because it will make AI accessible to people who might not have worked with it before. "I think a lot of what we've seen so far has been kind of inside the tech bubble," Woodman said, while "Windows is a product that reaches a significant portion of the planet."
Here are some of the key features of the new version:
- Boot to the cloud. If you're running a cloud-based version of Windows, you'll be able to log directly into the cloud as your primary experience on your PC, Microsoft said.
- Smarter snipping. It's getting easier to pull out text directly from screenshots with Windows. When using the Snipping Tool app, you can copy text from a screenshot and quickly redact emails or phone numbers.
- Better backup. Microsoft will enable users to back up apps they've previously installed on a PC in order to restore them, along with pinned app preferences, in the future.
- Paint with words. The longstanding Paint app is getting a facelift with help from generative AI. People will be able to type in a few words of text, choose a style and have Paint auto-generate an image matching the description. It's similar to tools from Adobe and other companies, as well as Microsoft's own image creator in the Bing search engine.
- More taskbar customization. Windows 11 introduced a stark new taskbar that puts the Start button and a series of app icons in the center at the bottom of the screen. Now users can view app icons with labels, similar to how things looked in Windows 10. Even apps that aren't running can appear with labels. Users will also be able to hide the time and date.
- Notepad with memory. Notepad will automatically save your status so that if you close the note-taking app and reopen it, you can get right back to your work.
Testers have gotten access to some of these features in early builds in recent months.
Microsoft is also incorporating generative AI into its advertising tool, although the company did not disclose when exactly it will do so. A Copilot for the Microsoft Advertising Platform will be able to answer marketers' questions through a chat interface.
"Using Copilot in the Microsoft Advertising Platform, you can tailor content, design, and strategies to your branding and advertising goals, creating stunning and effective ads in minutes," Kya Sainsbury-Carter, corporate VP for advertising at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post.
The Surface Laptop Studio 2 has a similar look and feel to the original model that launched in 2021. It can be used like a traditional laptop with a keyboard, but customers can also lay it flat and use it like a tablet.
It offers a 13th-generation Intel Core chip, with a few options for Nvidia graphics processing units: the GeForce RTX 4050 or 4060, or the RTX 2000 Ada Generation. Models with Nvidia graphics will come with 120-watt power supplies. Or people can choose integrated graphics with Intel Iris Xe.
Microsoft has also added a single traditional USB-A port, along with a MicroSD card reader.
People can choose to include up to 64GB of RAM, compared with a maximum of 32GB in the first iteration.
The device has an 14.4-inch screen and is the "most powerful Surface ever built," Brett Ostrum, Microsoft's VP of Surface devices, said at the event. He added that the Surface Laptop Studio 2 is twice as fast as the previous model and it also features an updated haptic touchpad, which is the "most inclusive touchpad on any laptop today."
Models with 2TB of storage and Nvidia graphics boast up to 16 hours of battery life, and devices with less space and Nvidia cards can deliver up to 18 hours, while Intel graphics models have a 19-hour capacity, Microsoft said. The company claimed the inaugural Surface Laptop Studio boasted 18 hours of battery life, but CNBC found it generally lasted closer to 4.5 hours.
The new version starts at $1,999, compared with $1,599 for the original model.
The Surface Laptop Go 3 is the latest update to Microsoft's entry-level laptop. It features a 12.4-inch touch screen display and runs on a 12th-generation Intel processor. Ostrum said it's Microsoft's lightest and most portable laptop, weighing in at 2.49 pounds. The Surface Laptop Studio 2 exceeds 4 pounds.
Microsoft said the new laptop's battery will last for 15 hours, compared with 13.5 hours for its predecessor. In terms of performance, the device is 88% faster than the original model, Ostrum said.
People can choose to add up to 16GB of RAM and up to 512GB of solid-state storage, instead of an 8GB memory limit and up to 256GB in solid-state storage in the Surface Laptop Go 2.
The laptop starts at $799, an increase from the $599 starting price of the Surface Laptop Go 2.
Microsoft announced the Surface Go 4, the latest miniature version of its Surface Pro tablet that's available exclusively for organizations. The company suggested in a release that the new model could be especially useful for businesses and frontline workers.
The Surface Go 4 can be docked to a monitor, used as a laptop with a paired keyboard or like a tablet using the touch screen.
It's powered by an Intel N200 processor. The Surface Go 4 also features a 10.5-inch touchscreen display and supports 12.5 hours of battery life, which is an increase from the 11 hours of battery life offered by the Surface Go 3.
Microsoft hasn't forgotten about its Surface Hub, its large touchscreen device for use in the office.
An 85-inch model and a smaller 50-inch option offer organizations an easy way to join Teams video calls. During Teams calls, software will be able to remove the background from various participants and adjust their sizes, Microsoft product marketing director Frank Buchholz wrote in a blog post.
The smaller version can switch between portrait and landscape modes. Two people can simultaneously draw or write on the devices with Surface Hub Pens or Surface Slim pens.
Microsoft is touting 60% better performance in the main processor of these devices and a 160% bump for their graphics processing units.
Large organizations will be able to start paying for Microsoft 365 Copilot starting Nov. 1.
The launch could provide a financial boost to Microsoft 365, formerly known as Office 365, a key part of the business that had 382 million commercial seats in the fiscal third quarter. Microsoft said enterprises can call their account representatives to get started.
Companies that participated in the tool's early access program will be given first chance to deploy the software, which will cost $30 per person per month on top of Microsoft 365's existing costs. Microsoft has also started allowing some small businesses into the early access program.
"In the testing that we've already done with preview customers, you're in a meeting, you can have a meeting summary, and the AI can summarize the entire meeting and give it to you in bite-sized chunks, Yusuf Mehdi, the new head of Surface and Windows at Microsoft, told CNBC's Steve Kovach.
"If you missed the meeting, you can tell me what happened out of it, you can say to get action items, what did my boss say, when was I mentioned, and you can get all that. That time is unbelievably precious, and for $30 a month, it's an incredible value. People really love that capability."