Surface 3 has arrived, and here are all the details

surface3 1Microsoft has just announced a new member of the Surface family, and it’s aimed to be a big successor to the Surface 2 but it’s actually a lot more like the Surface Pro 3. Surface 3 is basically a low cost Surface Pro 3 which brings Microsoft’s mantra of productivity to a much wider audience and is aimed to effectively replace your laptop.

A Lower cost Surface Pro 3

When you first lay your eyes on this device, it looks nearly identical to the Surface Pro 3, with the 3:2 screen aspect ratio, Windows logo on the right side of the device (in portrait mode) and a magnetic strip at the base of the keyboard giving it that sturdiness when using it to type on your lap that we’ve come to love about the Surface Pro 3. There’s also an addition of a Surface Pen and a new track-pad which look identical to that of the Surface Pro 3 offering.

So What’s Different?

Screen

Upon a closer look, you’ll begin to see where it loses its “PRO” title. First off, the screen is much smaller coming in a 10.8” when comparing to the Surface Pro 3’s 12-inch display, and tops out at 1920×1280 (3:2) which puts it at 214PPI. In comparison, the Surface Pro 3 sports a 2160×1440 display which is much sharper, but due to being larger at 12-inches its pixel density is nearly identical at 216PPI. Both use the same Clear-Type technology in their respective displays, so you know the color output will be fantastic.

The 3:2 aspect ratio is a good departure from the 16:9 aspect ratio on the Surface 2 which made it backward to use in portrait mode.

Camera

Surface 3 will have a 3.5 megapixel 1080p front-facing camera and an 8.0 megapixel 1080p rear-facing camera with auto-focus.

Hardware

Surface 3 has some notable improvements compared to the Surface 2, one of them is the kickstand which gets better with every iteration of the Surface devices. Surface RT had one kickstand position, Surface 2 had two positions, and Surface 3 has…wait for it….three! The third position will angle it pretty low and is probably more than enough for a device in its class. We have to say that we’re surprised Microsoft didn’t build the same kickstand technology in the Surface Pro 3 – but this is where the cost cutting comes into effect.

surface 3 kickstandSurface 3 has a shiny new steel looking logo. Yes, and it’s not a Surface logo, it’s a Microsoft logo. This is an important shift for the company going forward as it begins to consolidate all of its brands under One “roof”, further enforcing the “One Microsoft” vision and it’s a vital step in building the Microsoft brand. This is something that will be happening with more devices from Microsoft.

surface 3 rearFanless but still a PC

Looking at Surface 3 more closely reveals an important factor, and that’s the absence of the air vents around the device due to it being fanless, and because of this, it officially earns the title of being the thinnest and lightest Surface model ever made at 8.7mm and 622grams (1.37lbs). Surface 2 measured in at 8.89mm thick and weighed 676 grams.

The absence of a cooling fan in the Surface 3 is due to a new chip-set which is a first of its design and the latest mobile system on a chip (SoC), the “Cherry Trail” Atom x7. Don’t be alarmed that it’s an Atom-bases processor because this chip-set is supposed to offer great performance.

Microsoft chose to opt-out of using the Core-M processor which many ultra-portable machines are starting to use these days and they say it’s for a good reason. According to Thurrot.com, this new chip-set offers much better battery performance than its Core-M counterpart and because it’s so tiny, the device can be even thinner and lighter than what’s possible with Core-M.

Ports

This area is pretty much the same as the Surface Pro 3 which features all of the essential ports you’d expect on an Ultrabook PC. It comes with a full-sized USB 3.0 slot, a mini DisplayPort for Video Out, a headset jack, and of course a micro SD card slot under the kickstand.

surface 3 chargerHowever, this time around the power jack uses a micro-USB type connector for which plugs in to the device. This is a really big change because you can now use pretty much any micro-USB charger to charge the device if you forget to bring the official Surface version. One thing to note is that the one Microsoft provides with the Surface 3 will be more powerful than your typical charger, but they’ll still get the job done…just a little slower.

Type Cover

There will be a new Type cover keyboard, obviously now that the aspect ratio is different and for improvement reasons. This new type cover will support the dual positions with the use of the magnetic strip at the base of the keyboard just like the Surface Pro 3’s keyboard. The track-pad is also vastly improved when comparing to the Surface 2’s Type cover track-pad and will be made out of the same material as the one on the Surface Pro 3. It’s also supposed to be more accurate than the one on the Surface Pro 3, which is intriguing.

surface 3 keyboard

For those of you curious, yes, older Surface keyboards will work with the Surface 3 and even the larger type covers used on the Surface Pro 3 will too. However, they won’t be as aesthetically pleasing to the eye with a size difference.

Color options are as always fantastic, as this time around there will be an extra two colors to choose from. Light blue and light orange are the new colors and there will of course be the traditional options such as black, cyan, red and purple.

Oh, and a Type cover keyboard will as usual come at a separate cost of $129.99. Nothing new here.

Surface Pen

surface 3 penMicrosoft is doing something new with this line of non-pro Surface devices, and that including the functionality of a Surface Pen and of course giving you the option to buy one separately for an additional $49.99.

Although they will come in different colors to match the new type cover keyboards, it’s identically the same pen that’s included with the purchase of the Surface Pro 3.

 

 

 

 

Docking Station

surface 3 docking station2As if that isn’t enough, Microsoft will also have a new docking station ready build specifically for this device. It looks pretty much identical to the one for the Surface Pro 3 and will give you an extra mini Display Port, an Ethernet port and four USB ports (two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0). It’l also charge the Surface 3 continuously with a 48W wall charger. Microsoft hasn’t mentioned the price for the docking station but we expect it to cost the same as the one for the Surface Pro 3 which goes for $199.99.

surface 3 docking station1Pricing & availability

Surface 3 is currently available for pre-order in 26 markets with shipping dates slated for May 5th at microsoftstore.com. Additionally, on April 1st all Microsoft retail stores will have Surface 3 devices on hand to try out.

  • $499: 2GB of RAM, 64GB of storage
  • $599: 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage
  • $599: 2GB of RAM, 64GB of storage with LTE
  • $699: 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage with LTE

Type Cover $129.99

Surface Pen $49.99

Should you buy a Surface 3?

The Surface Line of devices are how Microsoft wants to represent Windows and are what they consider the perfect blend of hardware and software. When it comes to hardware and design, there’s no question about it, these line of devices have proven time and time again to excel in build quality and have become design icons. Nothing has changed in this regard, which is a good thing. Microsoft is committed to Surface and has been incredible at supporting them, which is something that that you get when you buy from the mother-ship.

These are the things you can expect when you buy a Surface device, and if you choose to do so, the pricing can get a little tricky. If you go all out and buy the top of the line version with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage with the LTE option, a keyboard and Pen, it would cost you $880. Choosing to opt out of the LTE feature will drop the price to $780. When you consider this, it’s actually very close to the price of an entry level Surface Pro 3 which will give you a more powerful CPU, and a larger screen. It’s definitely something to consider.

Either way, Surface 3 has a place in the market and we definitely think it’s a smart move on Microsoft’s part to pitch it as a laptop replacement and offer it at lower price points than the Pro models. This opens up the doors to a much wider audience. A new lower spec’d Surface can be a hit amongst students and people not willing to drop $1,000 on a laptop, while retaining the iconic design and build quality associated with the Surface line of devices. This is what the Surface 2 should have been, but it took three tries to get it right with Surface Pro, so why not three tries with its younger brother.

Microsoft to announce a successor to the Surface 2 very soon (details here)

microsoft-surface-2-vp-panos-panayMicrosoft has been quiet about the successor to the Surface 2 and many have speculated that the software giant will most likely focus on the successful Surface Pro series in the meantime. However, a report by WinBeta claims that Microsoft has plans to release a Surface device aimed at a lower price point but one that is much more than a successor to the Surface 2, while not being  in the same league as the Surface Pro 3.

The reason why it would be much more than a successor to the Surface 2 which ran Windows RT, is that this time it’ll run a full-blown version of Windows 8.1, which will be upgradable to Windows 10 as it’s released to the market. It’ll be fanless but will have lower spec’d CPU than the Surface Pro 3, which will either be an Intel Atom or the Intel Core M (the latter is used in the new MacBook revealed at Apple’s Spring Forward event and is starting to become a popular choice for ultra-portables.)

WinBeta reports that Microsoft is expected to announce this new Surface device sometime before or at their annual Build developer conference in late April and the company will not be labeling it as a Pro device.

Surface Pro 3 has been a very successful product for Microsoft, both with businesses and consumers, and has single-handily changed the perception of Microsoft as a hardware company. It’s also earned Microsoft a lot of of respect in the industry with such a feat of engineering, and we’ve seen many hardware vendors trying to duplicate the Surface Pro 3’s success.

However, the Surface Pro 3 is a very expensive device, and this limits it to a niche audience. If Microsoft comes in with a cheaper Surface device – presumably with a 10-12 inch screen, and one that runs a full-blown version of Windows 8.1, they’ll automatically open themselves up to a much wider audience. This new lower spec’d Surface can be a hit amongst students and people not willing to drop $1,000 on a laptop, while retaining the iconic design and build quality associated with the Surface line of devices.

This will be a tremendous year for Microsoft in both the hardware and software space, with Windows 10, a slew of Windows Phones, new Surface models (both Pro and non-pro), the new Surface Hub and HoloLens, this makes it the biggest product year in the history of the company.

Source: WinBeta

Microsoft officially releases developer tools for the Windows 10 Technical Preview

windows-10-family1Microsoft has just released the developer tools (SDK) for the Windows 10 Technical Preview for Windows Insiders. As of today, developers can start building Universal Windows 10 apps.

This is the first version of the SDK and it will continually be updated as the development of Windows 10 continues towards RTM.  Here are the key aspects in this preview release.

  • Adaptive UX: Windows 10 provides the ability to use a single UI that can adapt from small to large screens. For developers with an existing Windows 8.1 app, you can quickly try this one out by (a) removing one of your UI projects (and going from three Visual Studio projects to one!) and (b) add the improved ViewStateManager to control how your UI adapts at runtime.
  • User controls: A number of our Windows 10 UI controls will determine, at runtime, how the customer is interacting with your app and render the appropriate user experience (e.g. on a laptop with a touch-screen, an app fly-out control will provide larger touch-targets if tapped with touch, as opposed to clicked with a mouse).
  • API contracts: With Windows 10, you can directly verify if a Windows feature is available rather than inferring based on the operating system version. This empowers you to start checking, at runtime, if a Windows feature is available on the device before you call a related API. A good API contract for you to try out in your code to see this in action is HardwareButtons, which is present on phones (via the Mobile Extensions SDK), and thus available on the phone and mobile emulator but not available on the desktop. We believe that API contracts and the extension SDKs will allow you to adapt your code at runtime to deliver user experiences that feel right on the device it’s being run on.
  • Visual Studio Tooling improvements: As you experiment with the new developer tools, there are a number of improvements you’ll want to check out. For more details on this topic, I’d highly recommend you review the today’s post by S. Somasegar: Tools for Windows 10 Technical Preview.

This is a critical step for Microsoft as it gives developers the ability to target the entire Windows ecosystem of devices with Universal apps. This is vital in order to ensure that the Windows App Store thrives and effectively competes with iOS and Android in the future.

For more information regarding this release, check out the Windows Blog

Download: Tools for Windows 10 Technical Preview or ISO

Download: Visual Studio CTP6

 

Windows 10 will be released this summer

windows 10 family1Microsoft is really focused on delivering Windows 10 as early as possible, and in recent blog post, head of Microsoft’s operating system team Terry Myerson revealed that Windows 10 has a planned summer release.

The exact time-frame is not outlined, but Myerson did go on to say that Microsoft’s new flagship OS will be available in 190 countries and 111 languages on release.

Microsoft wants to make a big splash with Windows 10 and intends to get everyone on board as it’s offering the OS for free for those upgrading from Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8.1 and even from pirated copies of Windows 7.

This time-frame aligns with an RTM version of the OS to be complete in June and it should be perfect timing for Microsoft to unveil the Surface Pro 4 and possibly a flagship Windows 10 phone.

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 shines at MWC; named "Best Mobile Tablet" at 2015 Global Mobile Awards

SurfacePro3Primary_PageSurface Pro 3 has truly revolutionized the way we work and play since it was released last year in May. In less than a year, Microsoft’s 12-inch Windows 8.1 laptop-tablet hybrid has garnered world-wide attention and praises, and has won many awards including Stuff Magazine’s “Gadget of the Year” and made it to Time Magazine’s list of “The 25 Best Inventions of 2014”.

Today we can add one more prestigious accolade to the growing list as the Surface Pro 3 has just been named this year’s winner of the “Best Mobile Tablet” category at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. The 20th Global Mobile Awards judges were very impressed with the device, saying:

“Its very carefully engineered design bridges the worlds of consumption and creation like no other. Users can embrace the tablet form factor leaving their PC behind with no regrets.”

It’s great to see that Microsoft’s hard push into the consumer market is being recognized on the world stage, especially with stiff competition from the likes of Apple and Samsung.

Source: Global Mobile Awards

Microsoft will give you up to $650 towards a purchase of a Surface Pro 3 but there's catch

SurfacePro3Primary_PageThe Surface Pro 3 was a major upgrade over the previous models, but many people who purchased the Surface Pro 2 were very disappointed to see that Microsoft launched its successor much sooner than expected. Microsoft is now running a new promotion offering the trade-in value for their used Surface devices for a gift card of up to $650 towards a Surface Pro 3.

Before you get excited though, it’s not as exciting as it seems. The only way to get the full $650 is to actually trade in a Surface Pro 3, which some may want to do if they’re looking to get a more powerful version. However, a 128GB Surface Pro 2 which was the most popular configuration of the model, would only get you $221. Don’t even bother with the original Surface RT because that would only get you a measly $84.

To see how much your device is worth, head over to this website to get it appraised. This promotion runs from February 15th to the 8th of March and is only available in the US and Canada. You’ll then receive a trade-in voucher if you proceed and it must be used before April 8th of 2015.

Overall, if you’re someone who doesn’t prefer to sell their electronics privately and appreciate the convenience of dealing with Microsoft, then this is a pretty good way to save some money off of a brand new Surface Pro 3.  However, if you have the time and willingness to sell your device privately, it’s definitely a way to make more money off of the sale.

Get your Surface appraised here

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft has reportedly acquired the company behind the Pen technology in the Surface Pro 3

Surface-Pro-3-Pen[1]Microsoft has been on a shopping spree lately with some pretty big purchases taking place in the last little while. In the last month alone, the software giant has acquired the popular email company Accompli for over $200 million and has turned it into a world-class Outlook email app which is currently only available on iOS for now.

Just yesterday Microsoft officially confirmed that they’ve purchased popular calendar app Sunrise for over $100 million, and earlier today it was reported that Microsoft has acquired Israeli digital pen maker N-trig for more than $200 million.

N-trig is the company behind the digital Pen technology in the Surface Pro 3 which has received high praise from customers. It looks like Microsoft has been very happy with the switch to N-trig from their offerings on previous Surface Pro models which used Wacom technology.

The software giant is aiming to bring digital inking experiences to more of their products and really pioneering these capabilities. In a recent interview with ABC news, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said something rather interesting. When asked “what he thinks that we rely on, and won’t be around a decade from now” his answer was the fountain pen.  This is pretty interesting as we have known for some time that Microsoft has been investing heavily in this type of technology and acquiring N-trig is a confirmation of that.

Microsoft views digital inking as a very important input method for computing, and just recently, Panos Panay had some pretty interesting things to say to the Wall Street Journal regarding this technology. He also talked about the company’s plans to further enhance this technology and the goal of making the Pen feel as close to writing on paper as possible.

Pianos says “We are 100 percent committed to removing the paradigm that feels like you are writing on glass. We have a lot of technology right now, not only in our labs but also in future generations of development in products that start bringing that pen to life more and more. Getting the pen perfect on the Surface has got a little bit of a ways to go. And we will get there”.

Source: Reuters

Microsoft brings significant improvements to Office online

office_smallOffice Online is a fantastic way for people to familiarize themselves with Microsoft Office while saving money.  It’s accessible via Office.com or your Microsoft account (Outlook or Hotmail) and includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote.

It also has some unique features that the full-blown version doesn’t offer, such as machine learning via Bing insights and it has Skype integration. However in general, Office online is not as full-featured as the desktop version and is considered a lighter version of the productivity suite.

For those of you enjoying this Office online offering, Microsoft is making it a lot better with some significant improvements.

Here is what Microsoft had to say on the improvements to Office Online:

More options to save and manage your files

Save As options have expanded to provide you additional file management options that we think you will appreciate.

  • Save As—Saves a copy of the file to your OneDrive. You can to select a new location and name for the file if desired.
  • Rename—Helps you easily change the file name.
  • Download a Copy—Allows you to save a copy of the file outside of your OneDrive onto computer or any attached storage device like a flash drive.
  • Download as PDF—Converts your file format to a PDF and then gives you the same choices as “Download a Copy.”

Add files to OneDrive from the toolbar

We’ve also made it easy to add files to your OneDrive. If you’re accessing a file that you aren’t able to edit—such as a file someone shared with “view only” permissions—you can save your own copy with one click. Simply click Add to OneDrive, which is now on the toolbar, choose a destination in your OneDrive and press Save. You can now edit or share like you would any other file.

Get started editing faster

The new start experience is optimized to get you into the right editing experience as fast as possible. Now you can directly navigate to your most recently used files or see more files on your OneDrive. You can also quickly create a document with the new blank page template or any other template on your screen.

Integrated help

We’ve integrated the ? Help icon with Tell Me, the expanded Office Online help tool. Now you can click in the “Tell Me” box, located on the top part of the ribbon, type in what you’re looking for and then either select the relevant Office tool, go to a help article or get additional information from Bing.

Improved proofreading tools

When you turn in a paper, you want it to be perfect. That means no mistakes and meeting the guidelines of the assignment. Besides making backend improvements to our proofreading service, we’re introducing the highlighted word count feature. Instead of only knowing the total word of your document, you can check on specific sections.

Highlight the relevant text and then in the lower left corner of the screen you’ll see the highlighted word count and the total document word count together.

Office Online on the go

The release of Office for Android tablet brings you an exciting new way to edit your documents on the go. After installing the new Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps on your device, you can easily get to these apps from within Office Online. Just open the file in Office Online using Chrome for Android and tap the Open in Word, Open in Excel or Open in PowerPoint button in the top right corner. Your file automatically opens in the new Word, Excel or PowerPoint app.

Source: Office Blogs

Check out Microsoft's catchy new Surface Pro 3 commercial

Microsoft has just released a new commercial for the Surface Pro 3. This new 30-second ad is well produced and gets straight to the point – the Surface Pro 3 is the ultimate tablet that can replace your laptop.

The popular laptop-hybrid’s key features that differentiate it from the competition are highlighted as Microsoft shows off the device’s unique adjustable kick-stand, the fact that it can run full version of Office and the usefulness of the Surface Pen. Additionally, Microsoft points out that the Surface Pro 3 is 0.36 inches thin, weighs 1.76 pounds, and is available with up to 512GB of on-board storage. The commercial also shows how easy it is to transform from laptop to tablet as the keyboard can easily snap off.

The video ad is well produced and features “Something’s Happening to Me” song by Arum Rae.

Unlike previous commercials, this one doesn’t take jabs at Apple’s Macbooks. Could there be a change in Microsoft’s marketing strategy now that the Surface Pro 3 sales are starting to pick up? Recent tablet market share figured reveal that while tablet shipments overall world-wide in Q4 2014 have dropped as Apple and Samsung saw major declines in year-over-year comparison, sales of Windows tablets including the hybrid Surface Pro 3 have picked up. Click here to read more on this.

Source: Microsoft/YouTube

Tablet market experiences largest decline ever in Q4 while Surface shipments grew

Surface Pro 3 adBoth IDC and Canalys released their respective tablet shipment numbers representing the fourth quarter of 2014 and they show the first ever year-over-year decline since the modern tablet era began in 2010.

Four out of the top 5 vendors saw a decline in fourth quarter shipments.  It’s also worth noting that IDC includes 2-in-1 devices such as the Surface Pro 3 in their tablet shipment numbers and Canalys does not.

IDC counts 76.1 million tablets and 2-in-1 devices shipped for the quarter which represents a 3.2% decline compared to the same time a year earlier.

Canalys on the other hand reports a 12% year-over-year drop with a 67 million unit figure.  However, both IDC and Canalys report Apple retaining their number one position but declining 18% to 21.4 million tablets compared to 26 million in Q4 of 2014, while  Samsung declined a massive 24% with 11 million units shipped compared to 13.5 million in Q4 of 2013.

Interestingly, Canalys who counts only tablets with mobile OS’s and excludes  2-in-1 devices like the Surface Pro 3 and Windows based PC’s from other vendors, has Microsoft pegged at 2 million tablets shipped, which means that these are Windows RT based tablets. They also report that there were in excess of 6 million Windows tablets shipped for the quarter which puts Windows tablets at 9% share.

IDC says that “Microsoft’s new OS, a general shift towards larger screen form factor and productivity focused solutions, and technology innovations such as gesture interface that could be introduced in tablets will help the market maintain positive growth in 2015.”

Canalys expects growth in 2015 to come from tablets with screen sizes larger than 8″ as vendors look to improve margins and micro-brand players exit the market. Some of this change will be driven by growth of the Windows platform.

Source: IDC & Canalys