Microsoft's Latest Products

Posted by Adrian Green on

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In one of the final tech events of 2016, Microsoft has launched a bold new assault on Apple, creating an all-in-one PC that looks to challenge the iMac at its own creative game.

The launch of this latest addition to the Surface family was part of Microsoft's October event which also saw a host of new products, a focus on 3D and virtual reality, and a push to corner the creativity market.

Here's what went down.

The Surface family

Microsoft's well-received Surface family now has a new addition in the form of the Surface Studio. Joining the Surface Pro, and Surface Book, this latest innovation looks to take on the PC market but does so in a spectacular way.

Surface Studio

With minimalistic lines that culminate in a 28-inch,  PixelSense screen, the Surface Studio can be used upright or laid almost flat like a drafting table.

It's designed to take users to their "most creative place" and does so via the included Surface Pen and the new, but separately available, Surface Dial (we'll come to that later).

Between the two, it allows designers and creatives to sketch, edit, draw and work with ease.

Microsoft Windows Pro comes included, it easily supports intensive software like Adobe and for the gamers out there, can be paired with XBox controllers to transform the PC into a full gaming experience.

Available with a minimum 1TB storage it comes with an Intel i5 or i7 processor.

Australian details are yet to be announced but in the United States the Surface Studio starts at US$2999 (AUD$3195), and will start shipping in early 2017.

Surface Book i7

Many had widely tipped Microsoft might release the Surface Book 2 but instead they announced an upgraded Surface Book in the form of the i7. This improvement on the original offers a more powerful, speedier base, while the clipboard remains unchanged.

Also known as the "Surface Book with Power Base", the Surface Book i7 features a minimum Intel i7 processor, extra cooling and additional battery life, with Microsoft claiming 16 hours video playback.

These new additions have made the Surface Book i7 a little heavier and thicker than the original, but the result is barely noticeable.

It has also added compatibility with new devices like the Surface Dial.

Again, Australian dates and prices are yet to be provided but the base model starts at US$2399 or approximately AUD$3150.

Surface Book i7

The Surface Book Pro

The Pro 4 completes the Surface family, but it was without any new updates, gadgets or gimmicks this October. Rumour has it the new Surface Pro 5 will hit be released in the Australian autumn, at possibly around the same time Microsoft will unveil a fully revamped Surface Book 2.

New gadgets

Surface Dial

Heading up the range of new gadgets announced by Microsoft is the Surface Dial. Billed as "a completely new way to interact with technology and create in the most natural, immersive way", the Surface Dial enables users to "store, customise, access, navigate, and reimagine physical tools in the digital world".

As a stand-alone dial, it can be used to open various functions, or place it on Surface touch screens to access key features.

Microsoft explains: "For example, with Surface Dial, artists can change the color or the size of their brush tip as they paint without ever moving the pen away from the screen. The combination of Dial, pen and touch creates a more immersive and tactile way for people to create in digital environments."

The Surface Dial is compatible with all Windows 10 devices and will retail in America for US$99. There are no dates or prices for Australia yet, but that converts to AUD$130. It will start shipping in the US in mid December.

Headsets

There was a major emphasis on gaming and virtual reality included in the Windows 10 update that we’ll come to shortly, and to support it, Microsoft's partners will be launching VR headsets to work with Windows 10, while immersive sound will be offered on Xbox with the introduction of Dolby Atmos.

Windows Creative Update

The next edition of Windows 10 includes a major focus on creativity, with 3D and easy communication the two big features.

Entitled Creative Update, it will boast new Paint 3D, and allow users to scan in 3D from smartphones.  Users will also be able to create their own emojis, while 3D will be incorporated into popular applications like PowerPoint which will now feature a 3D models section.

The software update will change the way contacts are handled, making communication via SMS and email more connected and convenient.

Gaming also gets some improvements with game broadcasting, allowing users to share between their Xbox and PC, while virtual reality and augmented reality experiences will be supported.

Microsoft's Creative Update will be released early in 2017.

The final word

Many were impressed with the Surface Pro and further enamoured with the Surface Book. If it delivers what it promises, the new Surface Studio also looks set to garner fans as Microsoft makes ground in the tech war with Apple, and we can only assume 2017 will also live up to some great, fresh Microsoft expectations.

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