Microsoft is set to host a highly-anticipated event in the heart of New York City this week, promising not only the unveiling of three new Surface devices but also a substantial focus on AI-powered features for a multitude of its flagship products, including Windows, Office, Bing, and the Surface lineup. This event comes on the heels of a surprise resignation by Panos Panay, who held the reins for Windows and Surface at Microsoft, leaving observers intrigued about the company’s future AI endeavors under new leadership.
In this comprehensive coverage, we will find the event’s schedule, how to access the live updates, and a sneak peek into the anticipated product launches.
When is Microsoft’s “special event” happening?
The curtain will rise on Microsoft’s event at 7 AM PT / 10 AM ET on Thursday, September 21st. This marks a significant moment, as it is the first in-person Surface event since the onset of the pandemic. Notably, Panos Panay won’t be gracing the stage this time around. Instead, it is highly likely that Yusuf Mehdi, the head of consumer marketing, will take the helm alongside Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella. The chosen venue is none other than the bustling New York City.
Accessing Microsoft’s Event
Microsoft has opted not to provide a live stream of this event, but you need not fret. The Verge will be live-blogging the event, delivering real-time updates as the announcements unfold, starting at 7 AM PT / 10 AM ET. Furthermore, Microsoft will upload a recording of the event a few hours later, at 10 AM PT / 1 PM ET, accessible through the company’s event site.
Three Groundbreaking Surface Devices
The rumor mill is abuzz with speculations that Microsoft will introduce three new Surface devices at this special event. One of the standout stars is expected to be the Surface Laptop Studio 2, complete with Intel’s cutting-edge 13th Gen processors, Nvidia’s powerful RTX 4060, a microSD card slot, and the return of the USB-A port. A key design element carried over from the original is a versatile display that can be pulled forward to convert the laptop into a tablet. Notably, this device is rumored to boast a whopping 64GB of RAM, making it a powerhouse for various tasks. The Surface Laptop Studio 2 is anticipated to hit the shelves on October 3rd.
While the Surface Laptop Studio 2 might steal the limelight, the Surface Go four and Surface Laptop Go 3 are also poised for their debut. The Surface Go 4 is rumored to be equipped with an Intel N200 processor, following Microsoft’s reported shift away from an Arm processor for this tablet. Although images of the Surface Go 4 are yet to surface, it is expected to maintain the familiar design of its predecessor. On the other hand, leaked pictures of the Surface Laptop Go 3 suggest that it will bear a strong resemblance to its predecessor, the Surface Laptop Go 2. However, under the hood, it is rumored to run on Intel’s 12th-gen CPUs and is expected to hit the market in early October.
Windows AI Features: The Future Unveiled
Microsoft will be unveiling an array of AI-powered features for Windows during this event. One of the key highlights is Windows Copilot, an AI “personal assistant” set to redefine user experiences on the platform. Anticipated to be rolled out by the end of September, this update for Windows 11 (23H2) promises numerous enhancements to the operating system. Beyond Copilot, Microsoft is infusing AI into various Windows apps. Test versions of the Snipping Tool and Photos app have already received updates, incorporating handy features such as text extraction from screenshots and background blur for photos.
Moreover, Paint, a longtime Windows favorite, is rumored to receive the AI treatment, with text-to-image prompts that can generate images automatically. Meanwhile, the Photos app is expected to introduce a novel feature that can identify people or objects within photos and seamlessly cut and paste them elsewhere, akin to a feature available on iOS.
While the event might not delve into Microsoft’s plans for AI-powered features in Windows 12, expected next year, it will undoubtedly lay the foundation for the company’s overarching AI strategy. As Panos Panay articulated earlier this year, “AI is going to reinvent how you do everything on Windows, quite literally.” Consequently, we are poised to witness the inception of Microsoft’s journey towards this transformative reinvention.
Surface AI Features: Shaping the Future of Computing
AI’s impact on computing is profound, and Microsoft’s Surface team has been at the forefront of harnessing this technology. Features like Windows Studio Effects, which automatically adjusts eye contact during video calls, were first introduced on the Arm-powered Surface Pro X in 2020. These innovative AI features rely on a dedicated neural processing unit (NPU) to offload AI processing tasks. While NPUs have thus far been exclusive to Arm-powered Surface devices, the Surface Laptop Studio 2 may introduce its own dedicated NPU.
Notably, AMD’s Ryzen 7000 mobile processors were the first x86 chips with a dedicated AI engine, enabling them to support Microsoft’s Windows Studio Effects, including eye contact and background noise removal. Intel’s upcoming Meteor Lake chips are also expected to incorporate similar AI capabilities. Although the specific NPU employed in the Surface Laptop Studio 2 remains undisclosed, it could pave the way for additional AI experiences in Windows 11 and beyond. Microsoft has also leveraged AI to enhance its Surface smart camera, hinting at the possibility of more AI-powered accessories for Surface devices.
Office and Bing: Empowered by AI
While Surface and Windows take center stage, the event won’t be confined to just hardware and operating systems. Microsoft’s Copilot plans for Microsoft 365 and Office apps are expected to be a significant focus. Copilot in Office apps is poised to revolutionize document handling, enabling businesses to instantly summarize documents, generate emails, and expedite Excel analysis. Microsoft has placed high stakes on Copilot, and the event is expected to shed light on when enterprise users can access this AI-powered tool that represents the future of Office documents.
Additionally, Microsoft initiated the rollout of Bing Chat Enterprise earlier this year. This version, essentially an enhanced commercial variant of Bing Chat, is expected to exit its preview phase. Furthermore, we can anticipate the unveiling of additional features for both the consumer and enterprise versions of Bing Chat, underlining Microsoft’s commitment to harnessing AI for productivity and collaboration.
Microsoft’s forthcoming event promises a captivating blend of innovative hardware releases and groundbreaking AI enhancements across its product ecosystem. As the tech giant charts its course in the post-Panos era, the fusion of AI and technology appears to be at the forefront of its strategy, poised to reshape the way users interact with Microsoft products in the years to come. Stay tuned for the latest updates as Microsoft unveils its vision for the future.