Microsoft already is working on next three Surface generations

If you thought that Microsoft was designing their Surface tablets year by year, think again. During today's New York City press event for the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, the team's leader, Panos Panay, said that his personal Surface tablet contains plans for three generations of Surface.

Naturally, no details for that future roadmap were revealed. However, this tidbit does show that the company has some very long term plans for their PC hardware family. Perhaps the Surface Pro 3 will have Intel's Broadwell processor inside.

We also got a chance to briefly chat with Julie Larson-Green, the head of Microsoft's hardware division. She told us that the company was thinking about allowing third party accessory makers to create their own keyboard covers for the Surface products. We certainly would support such a move and indeed Green said that such covers could considered as a kind of app, like the Mix Cover that was introduced today.

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so they can't even get one product right. let alone sell them. and the geniuses among them thought they ought to work on three. at the same time. nice strategy. lol.

Why? We all know what happened with the first generation. Why not spend time focusing on one version and making it much better?

It is only normal for companies to do this when they know it will succeed. Otherwise, they would just be wasting their money.

Do you think a new indie developer will plan on working on three versions of their game? No. If the first game sells well, then sure. But if the game sells like crap, you did not waste your money planning the next ones.

What if this one has a 900 million dollar loss on it too? All that R&D would be a waste if they keep selling poorly.

This is normal for any product company. Most companies work 2-3 product cycles out just to stay ahead of the curb. People complain that Microsoft was falling behind, well, at least they are now working ahead.

It needs to be cheaper. Not because it's not a good buy already but for the apps. It's too much of a gamble for most people. If more people buy Surface, app developers will come in and make apps. It's common sense really. They know this from Xbox.

Edited by hagjohn, Sep 24 2013, 10:57am :

It's fairly obvious many here haven't worked in the development sector... Guys, it's not uncommon for developer's to plan two to three version ahead. Development takes time to plan out, R&D, fund, and finally build a working prototype. Do you guys really think the features of the Surface 1 and 2 were built over night?

It is very common to plan 2-3 releases out at any moment in time. This is what responsible companies do. Personally I think Microsoft is already working on a Surface laptop and a Surface Cover that can become any type of touch input interface(keyboards, music controls, gaming, whatever).

Dot Matrix said,
It's fairly obvious many here haven't worked in the development sector... Guys, it's not uncommon for developer's to plan two to three version ahead. Development takes time to plan out, R&D, fund, and finally build a working prototype. Do you guys really think the features of the Surface 1 and 2 were built over night?

They better scramble with V3:
http://gigaom.com/2013/09/05/i...heres-how-to-try-it-sooner/

When I saw the Mix touch keyboard I was thinking the same thing about how cool a touch keyboard that morphed would be. This type of keyboard would be according to my friend Barney, wait for it.... "LEGENDARY". Using some type of simple liquid display technology like they use on the basic b/w Kindles but here to use it to display different designs on the repsonsive touch type keyboard.

That's exactly what I was thinking, some kind of a cheaper display tech for the blade device that could render any type of input interface. That would be revolutionary!

Easy there, Hybrid laptop that uses touch still in need for wide acceptance before Kinect is next in line.

CygnusOrion said,
I wouldn't be surprised if Surface 3 has built-in Kinect technology.

My wishes for Surface Pro next year.

1. Dock with interchangeable GPU. Once you dock the GPU on the dock will take over graphics duty. Kind of similar to how the switchable GPU's of laptops work today but instead have it on the Dock. That way we could create our models on the Surface while out traveling but then dock it and let a real GPU of our choice render out the results.

2. Advanced on screen keyboard for legacy windows. When you are in apps like Illustrator have an optional keyboard that is full customized that can be snapped to the side of the screen. Would work Similar to how the Wacom Cintique/Companion keys work now for adding macro keys for working with stylus and touch but would be entirely virtual.

3. Widi screen sharing to Xbox One. Xbox One should show up as a projector and I can extend my screen to the Xbox. Hopefully this will come to this model as well. Widi would also enable the Xbox One controller to work with the Surface with no usb dongle.

No surprise, they've been working on the 2nd gen since they finished the first one, or a bit before actually. We'll see how it goes but I don't see MS stopping with just these two devices in the Surface line. We know a Surface mini is coming, so there's that, but I also expect a bigger one. I think they should make a full 13" or 15" Surface Ultrabook at some point.

Its funny how MS gets picked on for doing what all tech companies do. R&D is what drives every successful tech company.

You guys think planning out 3 generations ahead is silly? MS has ideas that could be decades out being incubated in their R&D area. So does Google and Apple to some extent.

Brainwashed by Apple and Google? Only thing I can think of.

dead.cell said,
I keep seeing people say this, but not explain WHY it needs an app specifically... ???

You want a reason? because Win8.1 will run on 7-8" devices, the next Windows iterations even more so.. Do you honestly want to view YouTube in the browser? Apps! they're for small devices and without an app no one will buy your small form factor devices. The apps in the Store right now are great YouTube apps tho, only worrisome bit is if Google changes things breaking the apps

I'd say the only downside of a Surface 2 right now is the form factor. It's a decent tablet and only a decent laptop. Unlike the iPad which is a perfect tablet and a MBA which is the perfect laptop. Sure, personally I would love to have the snap-feature(Netflix,Email) at the same time, but honestly 99% of average Joes don't know or care.

Hyper for YouTube, MegaTube, MetroTube.. any of these are perfect. Google won't build an app for Win8x its too much of an advantage to give to a competitor.. I mean if they provided their services on WindowsPhones and Win8 what compelling reason would there be to go Android? there would be none

WolfSilverLone said,
what's wrong with IE (desktop) for youtube... WinRT version IE sucks so we don't talk about that
I have no idea what you're talking about.

IM referring to this (dual screen) IE 10 vs IE10 WinRT.

http://imageshack.com/a/img689/4354/frhj.jpg
And pinning Websites like youtube is basically the equivalent as using a youtube app. They both need a connection the only difference is, The webpage is the real deal and the app's are missing functions.

See I even have Neowin pinned to look like a app... hell there is a app for that. its called your web browser.

and yes even on a touch screen WinRT IE10 and even WinRT IE11 On 8.1 is horrible and doesn't at all talk to the desktop version (Share same favorites, passwords and settings)

WinRT IE10 Running with ModernMix

WolfSilverLone said,
IM referring to this (dual screen) IE 10 vs IE10 WinRT.

http://imageshack.com/a/img689/4354/frhj.jpg
And pinning Websites like youtube is basically the equivalent as using a youtube app. They both need a connection the only difference is, The webpage is the real deal and the app's are missing functions.

See I even have Neowin pinned to look like a app... hell there is a app for that. its called your web browser.

and yes even on a touch screen WinRT IE10 and even WinRT IE11 On 8.1 is horrible and doesn't at all talk to the desktop version (Share same favorites, passwords and settings)

WinRT IE10 Running with ModernMix

I'm not sure what the screenshot is trying to show? Two pages up at the same time? You can do that in 8.1 Modern IE

mrp04 said,

I'm not sure what the screenshot is trying to show? Two pages up at the same time? You can do that in 8.1 Modern IE

it was showing the difference between Desktop IE10 (left) vs WinRT IE 10 (Right)

like I said even for touch screen/input the WinRT IE10 completely garbage... there no indication what's going on. and even worse it doesn't save or read bookmarks from the desktop version, you know the folder called "C:\Users\user name here\favorites"

so if you use both version on ether windows Rt or Window's 8 you basically have to book mark twice.

the simplest fix for this is. start > control panel > internet options >program tab > use the pull down menu and always use IE on desktop and check the box underneath it... you will never have to deal with WinRT IE on 8 or 8.1 ever...

WolfSilverLone said,
it was showing the difference between Desktop IE10 (left) vs WinRT IE 10 (Right)

like I said even for touch screen/input the WinRT IE10 completely garbage... there no indication what's going on. and even worse it doesn't save or read bookmarks from the desktop version, you know the folder called "C:\Users\user name here\favorites"

so if you use both version on ether windows Rt or Window's 8 you basically have to book mark twice.

the simplest fix for this is. start > control panel > internet options >program tab > use the pull down menu and always use IE on desktop and check the box underneath it... you will never have to deal with WinRT IE on 8 or 8.1 ever...

I cannot replicate your problem IE in RT renders the same in both Modern and in Desktop. Could it be that your aftermarket tool is jacking it up? I mean, I'm fairly certain if this disparity existed regularly this wouldn't be the first time I've seen it.

MrHumpty said,
I cannot replicate your problem IE in RT renders the same in both Modern and in Desktop. Could it be that your aftermarket tool is jacking it up? I mean, I'm fairly certain if this disparity existed regularly this wouldn't be the first time I've seen it.

I said nothing about it not rendering. It has everything to do with the web browser UI (or complete lack of UI in IE WinRT/metro version) and how it doesn't work with the desktop version bookmarks and setting ...

in case of confusion, when I say WinRT I don't mean Windows RT devices I mean Windows RunTime Apps (AKA Metro apps)

Also example Open WinRT IE and open a bookmark that you may have in Desktop IE. notice its not there? and when u save a bookmark in WinRT IE notice it doesn't show up as a htm file in the favorites folder under the c:\users\users name here\favorites...

oh... oh Im a looking like a fool now. (let me be the first to say that) but they must have patch/updated WinRT IE cus booksmarks do in fact work across both version of IE.

It use to not do that... Its kind of a huge mess though in WinRT IE, All 300+ book marks are randomly stretched and scattered across the entire bottom bar when it visible. (under frequent/favorites) Not organized at all

http://imageshack.com/a/img692/7637/bk8w.jpg
good luck trying to find any thing using that method of displaying favorites. That's the start of the list and continues to go to the right as far as 300 bookmarks can go in no particular order. Not even alphabetical ether

all that's missing is the "chrome" around the browser. You know the useful stuff like command bar, address bar /w tabs, and even the stats/loading bar. None of this should be hidden away. I don't even like hiding the ribbon bar in explore.

and yes that windows 8 with start8 and not the 8.1 fake button..

Edited by WolfSilverLone, Sep 24 2013, 3:00am :

This isn't really surprising since most companies do this. They do their prototyping, R&D, user-testing, etc. They come up some with some awesome innovative features but it's not perfect enough or affordable enough to release now so they release it few versions later. It's called R&D and setting priorities. The Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 are definite high quality devices... the value you get with the Surface line compared to an iPad or Android tablet is incomparable.

Maybe they should hive off this division and sell it to an OEM. Dell maybe? I wouldn't be surprised if MS did this btw with the way it continues making losses.

Maybe if they put all of that effort into one generation, they might be able to make something that doesn't lose so much money!

Brian M said,
Maybe if they put all of that effort into one generation, they might be able to make something that doesn't lose so much money!
Surface 2 now has all but LTE which is apparently coming. $449 gets you a really nice screen, MicroSDXC, USB3.0 etc. etc. (read the spec sheet yourself). It also gets you 2 years of 200gb of skydrive storage a $200 value and a year of skype premium a $60 value and Office Home & Student + Outlook. I'm curious, what would be a good price for all of that?

Sometimes it's not about specs. The vast majority of people don't know what MicroSDXC is, nor does a tablet re`ally need USB 3. Also in this day and age, people have grown accustom to having "Retina" displays in tablets - which I don't believe 1080p would be classed as.

Plus - the worst selling point - Windows RT. I only know one person who bought the original Surface RT - and they returned it because they didn't understand that Windows RT wouldn't run the stuff they're used to. MS don't have a big enough app ecosystem. Give it an x64 CPU, and a full version of Windows - and I imagine it would sell more.

Brian M said,
Sometimes it's not about specs. The vast majority of people don't know what MicroSDXC is, nor does a tablet re`ally need USB 3. Also in this day and age, people have grown accustom to having "Retina" displays in tablets - which I don't believe 1080p would be classed as.

Plus - the worst selling point - Windows RT. I only know one person who bought the original Surface RT - and they returned it because they didn't understand that Windows RT wouldn't run the stuff they're used to. MS don't have a big enough app ecosystem. Give it an x64 CPU, and a full version of Windows - and I imagine it would sell more.

You're bouncing around markets in your response.

iPad 4 is 264 ppi. the Surface 2 (assuming it really is using the Surface Pro's screen) is 208. Not monsterous. You assume most don't know what MicroSD is... that's just wrong. Everybody understands "memory stick" and everybody has a search engine at hand. USB 3.0 is needed on a tablet if you want fast transfer of files, most understand that too... more importantly they know *usb* is greater than no usb. The concept that people are accustom to "retina" displays is ridiculous. They have heard of it, yet most couldn't articulate what it means. What they know is "HD" and at the Surface's screen ratio they get full HD with this screen. the iPad has to crunch in some extra res to provide that at the 16:9 aspect ratio.

Then we get to the Windows RT. If you're going to compare this to other "tablets" then you can't bring the legacy application restriction into the mix. iPad's and Android tablets can't do that either. I can undestand your assumption that all consumers are idiots when it comes to tech because your friend didn't know that RT couldn't run legacy applications. Anybody who went and bought a surface from best buy, for example, knew straight out it couldn't do that. Anybody who bought it from a MS store (pop-up or otherwise) was slammed with that fact. I don't know where he bought it from but he obviously isn't playing with a high-iq or is incapable of listening to sales people or talking to friends in the know.

I'll agree MS didn't have a big app ecosystem but that has changed drastically in a year.

As far as your last sentence, they have one of those... it's the Pro. If that doesn't work you can buy one of the atom's or a laptop.

Bottom line the price is a solid deal. You still can't articulate what you think would be a great price. $350? $250? We're not talking about a small tablet with no horsepower. The nexus 7, which is a great tablet. That is $269 for the 32gb. It has no USB, no MicroSD, no Stand, smaller, no Gorilla glass and it's smaller. The nexus 10 is $499 for a 32gb and in the same boat of missing connectors and features. I'd say the Surface 2 priced right in the ballpark and with the extra services provided its a no-brainer unless you must have the applications. However, for college students the Surface 2 is a slam dunk with office.

Edited by MrHumpty, Sep 24 2013, 2:37pm :

Maybe focus all your energy into the next product, that way you don't release a piece of crap. Seems stupid to stretch resources.

Nashy said,
Maybe focus all your energy into the next product, that way you don't release a piece of crap. Seems stupid to stretch resources.

Um, what? Working and planning the next three releases is no different than planning and developing software. Each require planning, R&D, funding, etc before being released.

You're right. But 3 in advanced is dumb. Focus on the next one so you can make decisions based on experience, not hope.

Clearly. Because that's how they all do it, it must be right. Focus resources on the upcoming product, so it can be the best it can be. Use the information from that launch to develop your next product.

It's ****ing retarded to be spending money when you don't even know if the money will be utilized.

A roadmap is a roadmap, plain and simple. They exist for any software/hardware company with a lick of sense tbh. (See Intel's processor roadmap for example)

It's all about managing time, effort, resources, and so forth accordingly. Not everything goes to plan of course, as we saw with the XBO.

Nashy said,
Clearly. Because that's how they all do it, it must be right. Focus resources on the upcoming product, so it can be the best it can be. Use the information from that launch to develop your next product.

It's ****ing retarded to be spending money when you don't even know if the money will be utilized.

Obviously Microsoft isn't giving up on the tablet. Still, it's not uncommon to play two-three version ahead. It takes time to develop, and not much can change that. It's the same when developing software. I can guarantee Microsoft isn't just planning Windows 8.2, but already looking ahead to the feature sets of Windows 9 and 10.

Nashy said,
You're right. But 3 in advanced is dumb. Focus on the next one so you can make decisions based on experience, not hope.

clearly if you had any idea how to build tablets, you'd be doing something else than commenting here.

Your comment is so well thought out, and provides great insight into why you're making such a comment. Please feel free to elaborate, instead of just attacking my opinion. Give me reasons why I'm wrong, tell me why MS are wasting their money on 3 generations from now, before they know if the next one is going to be a flop like the first.

Enlighten me, all of you, your business knowledge, and tablet building skills are clearly far superior than mine, so I'm genuinely interested in how you can justify wasting money like this.

Take those funds and man hours, pump it into the next one (or the 3), and create an amazing product based on what is available today. Right now, looking into 3 ahead, what can they possibly do? Nothing. They don't know what the tech will be like then, they don't know what the tech costs will be then, they don't know how well it will sell, they don't know what sort of demand they currently have, and they can only guess that in 3 years the world wouldn't have switched to something completely different.

It's about having plans to do things you may not be able to do right now, either due to costs, design, and research that's still very much needed. It's a work in progress. That doesn't mean they are working on all of them at an even pace, but rather have goals and ideas in mind. Conceptual designers for instance really don't serve a purpose once the layout is finished and setup, ready for production. Why wouldn't they be moved to another project?

Reception from the public will help shape those ideas in the future, whether a design needs to be done away with or certain functions need to be added down the road due to demand. Also, you're a bit wrong to say they don't know what the tech will look like down the road, when they have partners that work in those fields respectively to give them an idea of what their plans are because they TOO have roadmaps.

Dot Matrix said,

I can guarantee Microsoft isn't just planning Windows 8.2, but already looking ahead to the feature sets of Windows 9 and 10.

Of course they are but I bet that they are at a brainstorm sessions stage. Unless of course MS plans to go from 8.1 to 9; in this case we should be close to Alpha build.

okay what your saying is kind of weird, It took them 2-3 years to design the first gen surface products, this is how product development on a large scale works, from brainstorming to prototyping to mass production, it also took them 2-3 years to create the 2nd gen surfaces.

the surface team is probably split into several main groups
-brainstorming and blue sky thinking (research)
-prototyping and refining ideas(development)
-mass producing(production)
-marketing and sales(distribution)
-after sales care(support)

it takes 2-3 years to design surface hardware, and each team cannot by definition work at the same time on the same generation so here's what's probably happening today;

team research - is working on surface gen 5 products which only exist on paper
team development - is busy prototyping and testing gen 4 products to meet design criteria
team production - is busy starting the mass manufacturing process which takes allot longer than you think on gen 3
team distribution - is busy shipping gen 2 for people to buy
team support - is supporting gen 1

every release cycle these numbers will tick over, there are NO resources lost because each team is always doing what they do best. so 4 years ago there was only a surface team 6 months later the team grew into research and development which included material experts and engineers, then so on so forth.

this is how every single mass produced consumer product is made, from cars to washing machines.

also the very fact they don't know what the market will look like in 3 years is exactly why the brainstorming research team is always needed, to be on the raged edge of technological breakthroughs. also the research and development team usually work very closely together to try out new ideas.

Attiq said,
okay what your saying is kind of weird, It took them 2-3 years to design the first gen surface products, this is how product development on a large scale works, from brainstorming to prototyping to mass production, it also took them 2-3 years to create the 2nd gen surfaces.

the surface team is probably split into several main groups
-brainstorming and blue sky thinking (research)
-prototyping and refining ideas(development)
-mass producing(production)
-marketing and sales(distribution)
-after sales care(support)

it takes 2-3 years to design surface hardware, and each team cannot by definition work at the same time on the same generation so here's what's probably happening today;

team research - is working on surface gen 5 products which only exist on paper
team development - is busy prototyping and testing gen 4 products to meet design criteria
team production - is busy starting the mass manufacturing process which takes allot longer than you think on gen 3
team distribution - is busy shipping gen 2 for people to buy
team support - is supporting gen 1

every release cycle these numbers will tick over, there are NO resources lost because each team is always doing what they do best. so 4 years ago there was only a surface team 6 months later the team grew into research and development which included material experts and engineers, then so on so forth.

this is how every single mass produced consumer product is made, from cars to washing machines.

also the very fact they don't know what the market will look like in 3 years is exactly why the brainstorming research team is always needed, to be on the raged edge of technological breakthroughs. also the research and development team usually work very closely together to try out new ideas.

Appreciate you taking the time to explain this for me. :-)

Nashy said,
...

Maybe the last 2 are little more than a list of milestones and "wish list items".

You make it sound like they are sitting there with Surface 3, 4, and 5 on their desk with little difference between them. With the Nokia purchase, the roadmap may change even more so OR they took some ideas from Nokia and they make up parts of the next 3 generations of Surface.

I have accidentially borrowed iPhone 6S from a bar. There's a pre-release of Transformers 5 on it, by the way. Grapevine says about Galaxy SVII, but I don't dance with those lowly folks. And there's Xperia ZOMG a short bit below the horizon. It's 4mm thin and actually floats on water now.

Phouchg said,
And there's Xperia ZOMG a short bit below the horizon. It's 4mm thin and actually floats on water now.

Well, least they don't need to make it water proof at that point

Well of course they would be planning.

Anyone that is seriously building tablets needs to be constantly planning your next version, just to keep up with technology changes and competitors.

In the case of MS, they seem to get this as well. Like the Xbox, it seems clear that MS is willing to take slow growth and slow sales in the tablet market in order to get their foot in the door, grow their app market, and get the branding out into the public's mind.

bunch of BS and I'm not sorry. Look at Surface 2 compared to latest iPad. compare what they've done. the last 3 iPad's have only gotten extremely incrementally thinner, and lighter, but I admit have gotten faster (nothing to take full advantage of that Samsung made speed in App Store though). Still compared to the OG Surface with latest Tegra 4 supporting their form of digitizers which is innovation on Nvidia's part, new kickstand, better battery life by 2 hours then another 2 hours with Power cover, the cover's have gotten thinner, lighter, more touch sensitive, backlit, and better overall for typing and are still same price. Only thing Microsoft needs is more apps, 3rd party accessories (like where the remix project is going), and to make WP RT which they hinted they would do.

I think surface is a good product, I have personally played with it. even original RT that everybody says it sucks it doesn't. Its really good product. its underpowered by a hair which is not the case with this year's RT.

This is not a case of "if at first you don't succeed." Microsoft knows where they want to get to (Courier) and has an idea of how many iterations it will take for the technology to make it a practical, affordable, and attractive. Piece by piece this device is slowly morphing into the Courier. They now have a tablet screen and giant backlit "touchpad" with replaceable hardware faces. In 3 years that giant click-in "touchpad" could be able to reconfigure itself on the fly to match the current app. Beyond that it could be a fully touch enabled display with a second battery.

firey said,
Well, as the saying goes: "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again".

and throw away another $900m and $900m and $900m (and maybe 3 more CEO's too!)