- Quick take: The Microsoft special to be held in New York will reveal new Surface devices and groundbreaking AI features for Windows, Office, Bing, and more.
- Core insight: The event marks a pivotal moment for Microsoft as it aims to set the course for its future in hardware and AI technologies, especially following the departure of Panos Panay.
- What’s next: The innovations introduced at this event will likely serve as a foundation for Microsoft’s long-term AI strategy and hardware lineup, shaping the computing experience for both consumer and enterprise markets.
The Microsoft special event taking place in New York City this week is set to unveil a new lineup of Surface devices, along with groundbreaking AI features that promise to redefine Windows, Office, Bing, and more. With the departure of Panos Panay, the former overseer of Windows and Surface, industry eyes are keen to see how Microsoft’s AI ambitions will evolve under new leadership.
The press event will kick off at 7AM PT / 10AM ET on Thursday, September 21st, making it the first in-person Surface event since the pandemic. Former Windows and Surface chief Panos Panay won’t be presenting, but it’s likely we’ll see Yusuf Mehdi, head of consumer marketing, instead. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will also make an appearance. It will take place in New York City.
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How to watch the Microsoft special event?
The Microsoft special event featuring won’t be broadcast live, breaking from the norm of real-time streaming. Instead, the gathering kicks off at 7 AM PT / 10 AM ET, with a recorded version planned for public release just a few hours later. Set your clocks for 10 AM PT / 1 PM ET, when the recording will be made available on Microsoft’s dedicated event website.
New Surface devices
At the highly anticipated Microsoft special event, the spotlight isn’t just on AI; Surface devices are sharing center stage. The tech community is buzzing with speculations about the unveiling of three new Surface devices, which promise to bring considerable upgrades to Microsoft’s hardware lineup.
The Surface Laptop Studio 2 has already caught the public eye according to a The Verge report, revealing impressive internals like Intel’s 13th Gen processors and Nvidia’s RTX 4060.
Notably, this device is expected to feature 64GB of RAM, making it the first Surface device to boast such memory capacity, according to WinFuture. A microSD card slot and a USB-A port are other additions aimed at enhancing storage and peripheral compatibility. Shipments for this powerhouse are rumored to commence on October 3rd.
While the Surface Laptop Studio 2 is stealing headlines, the Surface Go 4 and Surface Laptop Go 3 shouldn’t be overlooked. Leaks suggest that the Surface Go 4 will sport an Intel N200 processor, following Microsoft’s decision to delay an Arm-based variant. Though no images of the device have surfaced yet, its design is expected to remain consistent with its predecessor, the Surface Go 3.
Leaked visuals of the Surface Laptop Go 3 reveal a design strikingly similar to its previous version. However, it’s anticipated to feature Intel’s 12th Gen CPUs and, like its counterparts, is expected to start shipping in early October.
Windows receiving AI upgrades
During the Microsoft special event, the company is set to raise the curtain on new AI-powered enhancements for Windows. These developments will accompany an update to Windows 11, codenamed 23H2. One major feature to watch out for is Windows Copilot, an AI “personal assistant” slated for release by the end of this month.
But Microsoft’s AI ambitions extend beyond Copilot. Recent updates to native Windows apps like the Snipping Tool and Photos reveal AI functionality that includes extracting text from screenshots and adding depth of field effects to images.
The venerable Paint app is also reportedly in line to receive AI features, including text-to-image prompts for automated image creation. Moreover, the Photos app is said to be on the cusp of introducing a feature that can identify and isolate subjects in images for easy copying and pasting, akin to functionalities seen in iOS.
While an early preview of Windows 12’s AI capabilities is unlikely at this event, the upcoming Surface and Windows AI features are expected to serve as the foundational blocks for Microsoft’s future AI strategies. As Panay declared earlier, “AI is going to reinvent how you do everything on Windows, quite literally,” signaling the start of Microsoft’s transformative journey in AI.
Surface to get AI boost
In a conversation with The Verge last year, Steven Bathiche, who leads Microsoft’s applied sciences group, noted that AI “will have a potentially profound impact on how you use your computer and how it will essentially evolve in regards to its form.” Indeed, the Surface team has been integrating AI functionalities like Windows Studio Effects since 2020, beginning with the Arm-powered Surface Pro X. These features, aimed at enhancing video calls by ensuring consistent eye contact, for example, run on a specialized neural processing unit (NPU).
Until now, NPUs have only been included in Arm-powered Surface devices. The Surface Pro 9 Arm version that launched last year sported one, and reports suggest that the forthcoming Surface Laptop Studio 2 could feature its own dedicated NPU as well.
AMD’s Ryzen 7000 mobile processors became the first x86 mobile chips to incorporate a dedicated AI engine compatible with Microsoft’s Windows Studio Effects. Intel’s upcoming Meteor Lake chips are also expected to offer similar functionalities. While it remains unclear which NPU will be integrated into the Surface Laptop Studio 2, it’s evident that this technology will play a key role in Microsoft’s AI plans for Windows 11 and beyond.
AI also plays a pivotal role in Surface’s camera technology. Given this trend, it wouldn’t be surprising to witness the launch of additional Surface accessories designed with AI capabilities at the Microsoft special event.
What about Office and Bing?
The Microsoft special event promises to be more than a showcase for Surface devices and Windows updates. Observers are also keenly awaiting information on Microsoft’s Copilot features for Microsoft 365 and Office apps. The company priced Copilot ambitiously this past July, making it high time for a release date targeted at enterprise users eager to embrace this AI-driven future in document management.
Copilot’s capabilities extend across Office apps, offering businesses game-changing features like instant document summarization, streamlined email generation, and expedited Excel analyses. The initiative represents Microsoft’s strategy to outmaneuver competitors like Google Workspace, Zoom, and Slack, which offer similar AI functionalities.
In addition to Office, Microsoft began testing Bing Chat Enterprise earlier this year. Essentially an enterprise-grade version of the consumer-focused Bing Chat, this tool incorporates enhanced data protection features suitable for commercial use. We may likely hear about Bing Chat Enterprise’s transition from preview to full-fledged service, along with updates for both consumer and enterprise versions of Bing Chat.
For context, last year’s event gave us the Surface Studio 2+ desktop, Surface Laptop 5, Surface Pro 9, and a slew of software updates, including AI enhancements in Microsoft Teams.
Featured image credit: Kerem Gülen/Midjourney