There’s been a lot of discussion in the tech press recently about the rumored Microsoft Surface Book 2. The discussion centers around a report by DigiTimes about an upcoming refresh to the original Surface Book. According to DigiTimes the device will be a departure the 2015 2-in-1 Surface Book and it’s signature detachable screen. Instead, the report claims, the device will be more like a traditional laptop without a detachable tablet. And it will be priced at $1,000 and up which is significantly less than the original Surface Book’s $1500 starting price.
That’s all very interesting, if true. DigiTimes gets a lot wrong, some right, and some things are misinterpreted. I think, and this is pure speculation, that they’ve gotten some of the facts right here but misinterpreted their meaning. Just to reiterate, this is all speculation from me and based on nothing from sources, reliable or otherwise.
There are some things about the Surface line of products that have been true up until this point. First, each new Surface product line has been category-defining or at least category-redefining. Since the beginning they’ve played a major role in reshaping Microsoft. The Surface Pro made the laptop/tablet hybrid a reality. There’s the Surface Hub which redefined what a meeting-focused display could do. The Surface Studio dramatically shifted the all-in-one to a touch-friendly creator’s device. Second, the Surface line has always been premium. The Surface Book starts at $1500. The Surface Studio is $3000 – $4200. The materials and components used in production have been mostly top notch – vaporized magnesium, 4.5 K display, facial recognition cameras, etc.
The Surface Book 2 rumors don’t seem to fit these facts. A standard notebook Surface Book would not be category-defining. Every computer manufacturer under the sun makes notebooks. Some are incredibly thin and light (LG Gram), some are powerful (Alienware VR), some are convertible (Lenovo Yoga), etc. Also, a $1000 starting price doesn’t exactly scream premium. Yes, $1000 is a lot of money but there are plenty of laptops to be had for more. Just look at Apple’s MacBook lineup. And why would Microsoft backtrack from the main selling point of the Surface Book? I don’t get it.
This all makes me think that something else is going on. And that something is that the device being rumored is actually a Windows On Arm device running on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 platform and not a Surface Book 2. I think we’re looking at a potentially new line of Surface devices. It makes sense. As the first WOA notebook it would definitely be category-defining. It would usher in a new era of laptops with extended battery life, improved standby performance, easier and cheaper cellular connectivity, potentially thinner and lighter devices. These devices would run legacy Win32 apps (maybe from the store or maybe through native installs) thanks to Microsoft’s partnership with Qualcomm. I think it would be a mini revolution in the PC laptop space. And, that makes the rumored $1000 price more believable. Also, a new product line wouldn’t have to live up to the history of having a detachable screen.
So that’s it. I’m taking an already sketchy rumor and swirling it into an entirely new Surface product from Microsoft. I may be completely wrong and DigiTimes might be completely correct to call the device Surface Book 2. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Bonus – if it really is a WOA device, perhaps it’ll be running the forthcoming Windows 10 Cloud OS that restricts installing traditional Win32 apps.