Microsoft answers a few of our questions on Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2

Microsoft has been slowly ramping up the hype machine for the new Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets, which were officially announced a month ago. On Tuesday, they go on sale worldwide, although pre-orders for both versions have been live for a month as well.

We wanted to get a few of our remaining questions about the Surface answered, and a Microsoft spokesperson offered up some responses via email. One of our questions was that pre-order supplies, at least on the Microsoft Store site, have been hard to come by. All of the new Surface models are currently scheduled to ship at least several days after Tuesday, and in some cases won't ship until Dec. 15.

We asked Microsoft if there were simply not enough Surface models made or did Microsoft decide to keep some in reserve so they could be sold in retail stores on Oct. 22. The spokesperson told us:

Our primary goal is to get Surface 2, Surface Pro 2 and new Surface accessories into the hands of all people who want the most productive tablets on the planet. As for specific numbers, we have nothing to share. What we can share is that the public response to date for Surface 2, Surface Pro 2 and new Surface accessories has been exciting to see and, for those still eager to buy, we recommend they go to MicrosoftStore.com, Microsoft Retail Stores and third-party retailers for availability.

The Surface 2 tablet, along with the 1-year-old Surface RT, are currently the only tablets that are actively being sold that have Windows RT installed. We asked Microsoft if the company is confident that the OS will be supported by consumers with this new Surface 2 launch. Again, a Microsoft spokesperson told us:

Windows on ARM continues to be an important element of the Windows strategy. Microsoft is making Windows on ARM even better for both consumers and businesses by adding more features such as third-party MDM, workplace join and Outlook which is preinstalled along with the other Office apps – Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, with the Windows RT 8.1 update.

We received our answers before Microsoft announced that it had pulled the Windows RT 8.1 update from the Windows Store for older devices. Some people have asked why Microsoft doesn't use Intel's new Bay Trail processors for new Surface tablets, like many other OEMs are using for their own new Windows 8.1 products. Unfortunately, Microsoft bypassed answering this question when we posed it, with the spokesperson telling us, "In regards to future plans, we don’t have anything to share."

One of the accessories that was announced by Microsoft during the Surface launch was the docking station (due out in early 2014 for $199.99), which adds a number of ports to the tablets but only one Mini DisplayPort to connect the tablet to a larger monitor. Our editor Chris White wrote an editorial that took Microsoft to task for making the Surface docking station so expensive but not offering as much as other port replicators on the market. We asked Microsoft for comment and got the following response:

The Surface Docking Station is designed specifically for Surface, and brings immense value to the product by letting you quickly connect Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 to desktop PC peripherals in a single step, taking you from laptop to desktop in an instant. While Surface Pro or Surface Pro 2 is docked, it connects with an external monitor, Ethernet, speakers and power supply. PC peripherals connect via its one USB 3.0 port and three USB 2.0 ports.

In March, Microsoft's head of the Surface team Panos Panay made a speech to a U.S. government summit where he basically said that the Surface RT was a tablet and the Surface Pro was a PC. With the launch of Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, Microsoft's spokesperson told us that the differences between the two new products are basically the same as those of the first generation Surface models:

Surface 2 is the most productive tablet for personal use. Surface 2 is perfect for those who want an ultra-thin and light tablet with long battery life that offers a great entertainment experience plus the ability to get more done with Office products like Word, Excel and Outlook, have the option of multitasking apps and a variety of colorful and functional keyboards.

Surface Pro 2 is the successor to Surface Pro, and like its predecessor is a true laptop replacement, capable of running both Windows Store apps as well as hundreds of thousands of Windows applications. Surface Pro 2 is best for those who need Ultrabook performance and speeds in a tablet body. With the ability to run virtually any Windows-compatible program, its 10-point touchscreen with Wacom pen technology and enterprise-grade security, Surface Pro 2 is perfect for a number of enthusiasts and professionals.

Neowin will have our own full review of the new Surface models in the near future.

Images via Microsoft

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30 Comments

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The physical limitations of tablets will always remain. Potential buyers and users just need to be aware of them, and proceed accordingly.

How heavy is a tablet with bay trail? IMO you re better off just buying a nice ultrabook rather wasting on a tablet that will perform poorly. You can Remote Desktop with the surface rt.

Those responses from Microsoft were just dreadful to read. I love my Surface tablets and even preordered the new version, but those were absolutely dog-licking responses regarding the "most productive tablets on the planet."
Regarding the single display port, they could have at least responded with, "In our product testing, we found most users were pleased with one additional display and found it sufficient for their needs." rather than skirt the issue entirely and not even answer the question.

Just talked to the guys of MS Store and they told me that I wont get mine on time...I preordered on day one but somehow they screwed it again as for the surface 1 launch. MS I love your hardware and software but you suck with service.... BTW: Im in Germany

Sometimes, I think Surface response PR is exactly that... pure PR
When I asked them during their Twitter Q&A, I inquired about the possibility to offer a bundle deal between Surface Pro 2 and TypeCover 2... And as usual, the response was "We want to give our customers the choice"

Well shoo.. no one is saying that you can't offer items individually..and on top of the individual offering, let's throw in a holiday bundle... (think XBox holiday bundle for crying out loud)

yeah no real reason to upgrade from first gen pro if you're happy with it. the only real difference in the pro 2 is improved battery life due to haswell

Regardless of the final numbers if MS did it right with the new gen units and ordered accordingly and not order more than they needed to as with the original Surface RT they'll make a profit, specially at these price points. No one expects it to sell like crazy but they're not losing money on each one sold as long as they're supply is sold and not sitting in storage.

So in the end they very well could bring in some good revenues and even profits, the R&D costs on these has to have been a good deal smaller than the originals, the design hardly changed at all, they probably spent more on the new accessories I bet.

$449.00 for Surface 2.

I haven't played with some. Is it really worth that much more then a Nexus tablet? Or iPad? Not trolling, I just want to know. I am in need of a tablet for work.

I do like how I can buy a keyboard for the surface.

Frankly it depends on your needs. Surface2 offers you a full Office suite included in the price as well. It also allows you to connect a second monitor to the HDMI port and it will give you full and true dual-monitor support and not just a copy of he tablet screen.

It allows you to use any USB device like (3D) printers, storage, keyboards, mouse and much, much more. It easily extends storage by just adding a MicroSD card. You can remote desktop into your PC and works remotely just like you would do with a notebook or other desktop.

IMO both iPad and Android tablets have their use, but they are more geared towards being consumption devices for media or content in general. Surface will allow you to be productive.

Dane said,
$449.00 for Surface 2.

I haven't played with some. Is it really worth that much more then a Nexus tablet? Or iPad? Not trolling, I just want to know. I am in need of a tablet for work.

I do like how I can buy a keyboard for the surface.

Are you looking for a 7 inch device or a 10 inch device? Nexus 7 and iPad mini are cheaper but the iPad 10 inch version is priced very similarly.

paulheu said,
Frankly it depends on your needs. Surface2 offers you a full Office suite included in the price as well. It also allows you to connect a second monitor to the HDMI port and it will give you full and true dual-monitor support and not just a copy of he tablet screen.

It allows you to use any USB device like (3D) printers, storage, keyboards, mouse and much, much more. It easily extends storage by just adding a MicroSD card. You can remote desktop into your PC and works remotely just like you would do with a notebook or other desktop.

IMO both iPad and Android tablets have their use, but they are more geared towards being consumption devices for media or content in general. Surface will allow you to be productive.

Does a nexus have a USB port? I would be using it for web (WIFI), Web, Word, email.

Word would be easier I guess. Type what I need, plug in a flash drive to USB, put it onto another PC later on.

Dane said,
$449.00 for Surface 2.

I haven't played with some. Is it really worth that much more then a Nexus tablet? Or iPad? Not trolling, I just want to know. I am in need of a tablet for work.

I do like how I can buy a keyboard for the surface.

As the applications come around, i say yes.

1. Solid screen
2. Stand built in
3. MicroSD
4. USB that supports all sorts of usb peripherals out of the box plus usb sticks and usb 3.0 external drives
5. Really nice portable keyboard/cover if you want one.

So yea, as the applications show up, which they are very quickly now, then the money is well worth it. I've been more satisfied with my Surface RT as time wears on as more fun games etc. show up. But more importantly, it does all the things a tablet needs to do well out of the box (consumption) but it has some productivity if you want it with full office.

Dane said,

Does a nexus have a USB port? I would be using it for web (WIFI), Web, Word, email.

Word would be easier I guess. Type what I need, plug in a flash drive to USB, put it onto another PC later on.

Yes, Nexus 7 has a usb port. A mini one used to charge it. As for your uses, those are example were Surface definitely beats the Nexus 7. Unless you use Gmail and Google Docs.

incendy said,
Yes, Nexus 7 has a usb port. A mini one used to charge it. As for your uses, those are example were Surface definitely beats the Nexus 7. Unless you use Gmail and Google Docs.
By that measure most anything has a usb port.

MrHumpty said,
By that measure most anything has a usb port.
more true than you realize. you can buy a micro-usb to usb adapter and use a flash drive on any android phone (not sure if WP supports this as well)

Brando212 said,
more true than you realize. you can buy a micro-usb to usb adapter and use a flash drive on any android phone (not sure if WP supports this as well)
"Any" should be "some"

MrHumpty said,
"Any" should be "some"
no, any android phone that uses micro usb can mount flash drives. whether any particular oem blocks it or not is a different matter entirely. they are still capable though (having to manually mount still counts as well)

Yeah how about instead of trying to say the pro is like a laptop but its not, you do away with that crappy comparison and just take back the tablet PC moniker.

Every other platform has a tablet (running a mobile or consumer OS), every other platform has a laptop... no other platform has a tablet PC.

Cyborg_X said,
I've tried Targus & Toshiba docks and they both have issues. Besides the fact they don't power the device.

I've been using a Plugable UD-3000 USB 3 dock ($129 at Amazon) with my Pro for a few months now and it's been working flawlessly. I've got a monitor hooked up to it through the dock's DVI port, another one through a VGA/USB adapter, Ethernet, my mouse, keyboard, Sound Blaster X-Fi 5.1 audio, and a USB hub all running off of it.

I was using the dock's own mic and stereo jacks, which do exactly what they're supposed to, but then with the SB X-Fi I have 5.1 sound and a USB headset for mic. I can't think of a single thing that didn't work right out of the box.

John Callaham said,
Im sure there will be some more affordable docking stations that will work well with the new Surface models.
I plan on buying a pluggable 3.0 replicator for my Pro 2. The only value by the dock, imo, is not having to hook up wires when you put it down. We'll have to see how I feel about shelling out $400 just to save from plugging everything in whenever I sit down at my desk at work and at home.