On Monday, Microsoft refreshed its Surface tablet computers, providing them with longer battery life and better comfort on laps as the software giant continues its transformation into a devices and services company.
At its event in New York, the company introduced the world its new Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets, which will ship with the improved Windows 8.1.
“We’re launching two of the most productive tablets on the planet,” Panos Panay, general manager of Microsoft’s Surface, told ABC News. “We really focused on making sure these are the most productive tablets people can buy.”
The Surface 2 tablet, priced at $499, is the replacement to the Surface RT tablet. However, in comparison to its precursor, the Surface 2 is also thinner, lighter and faster.
It runs runs on the lightning-fast NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor and runs on Windows RT 8.1. The device has a full 1080p display and a longer battery life, actually by 25%, so it can be used more than 12 hours a day.
Microsoft said it now has 100,000 apps, or 10 times what was available last year. Like other RT tablets, Microsoft is including a version of its Office software for free with the Surface 2. But now, the package will have the Outlook email and calendar program, not just Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
The Surface 2 tablet â€” which comes in white now and not just black, remains just as tough as the first version with a magnesium build to withstand drops and bumps, and Microsoft has brought out the silver metal color on this version.
Microsoft has also added a third-inch sensor on the front camera, which will help lighten up surroundings when using the webcam.
The Surface Pro 2 is targeted at professionals who want the full power of a laptop in a tablet-style device. Microsoft VP Panos Panay spent a considerable amount of time talking up its myriad improvements.
“We really knew there were a few elements we had to get right and better,” Panay said. “We spent every bit of energy improving the battery life on this product.”
Reportedly, Surface Pro 2 offers an amazing 75% improvement in battery life. The battery upgrade instantly makes the Surface Pro 2 a device better suited for heavy usage throughout the day rather than sparingly in battery-conscious spurts, says Mashable.
The improvement comes partly from the use of Intel’s Haswell chip, which uses less energy. There’s also an optional Power Cover accessory that extends battery life even further.
Unlike the Surface 2, the Pro runs the full version of Windows 8.1, which allows it to run apps from the Windows Store and any older Windows programs.
The new tablet will also get an updated docking station sporting four USB ports (three USB 2.0 ports and one USB 3.0 port) as well as audio in and out ports, an Ethernet port, and a mini Display port.
Microsoft has also improved the two keyboard covers that you can buy with the tablets. The Touch Cover 2, which doesn’t have physical keys but rather a touch layer built into the soft cover, is now 2mm thinner and has a built-in backlight. The light in the keyboard turns off when you aren’t using it and automatically turns on when you are, say ABC News.
The Surface 2 and the Surface Pro 2 will come with 200 gigabytes of free online storage through SkyDrive for two years, as well as free calls and Wi-Fi hotspots through Skype for a year.
Microsoft just confirmed that pre-orders for both tablets will begin tomorrow, and added that the devices would ultimately be available in 21 markets on October 22.