I’m worried about the future of the Microsoft Surface

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Luke Larsen

By Luke Larsen November 26, 2023 6:00AM

I’ve consistently abiding for the Surface. What started alone as a way to advance the abstraction of the Windows 2-in-1 has developed into a full-fledged exceptional laptop brand, with options at about every amount point.

But afterwards a year like 2023, it’s adamantine not to feel like we may be extensive a axis point for the brand.

Lack of momentum

The new Surface Laptop Studio 2 apparent on date during Microsoft's September event.Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

This year was a actual apathetic year for the Surface. Microsoft appear four new Surface accessories in 2023: the Surface Go 4, Surface Laptop Go 3, Surface Hub 3, and the Surface Laptop Studio 2. That ability complete like a lot, but back you breach it down, the “Go” accessories are both budget-focused, and the Surface Hub 3 is a absolutely bartering product. The Surface Laptop Studio 2 was absolutely the alone agitative new chump accessory announced, and it was a adequately accessory blueprint update. The Surface band has never been accepted for connected updates or desperate architecture changes, but that’s still a actual quiet set of updates to Microsoft’s flagship band of PCs.

Save on aggregate from laptops and tablets, to coffee makers and air purifiers, and acute home essentials like the Amazon Echo.

Perhaps the best alarming affair about what was declared to be a Surface accouterments event? Very little of the time was adherent to talking about the articles themselves. Instead, it became yet addition belvedere for Microsoft to deliver about Copilot, its AI service that’s added complete into every application. That should acquaint you area Microsoft’s arch is at appropriate now — abnormally compared to Surface contest of above-mentioned years.

What’s alike added cogent is what products weren’t announced this year. The Surface Pro and Surface Laptop are the line’s best important articles and accept best consistently accustomed anniversary updates. Usually, it’s aloof a bang internally, but occasionally there will be new appearance or architecture changes. But in 2023, both articles were absolutely absent. The latest versions of them were both launched in October 2022 — the Surface Laptop 5 and the Surface Pro 9, respectively.

I’m not adage these will never get updates, but it has fabricated for a actual quiet year for the Surface — that’s for sure. It’s fabricated alike worse by the actuality that this is the 10-year celebration of the Surface Pro.

The Panos of it all

Panos Panay with a SurfaceMicrosoft

The better augury of doom for the Surface, however, isn’t a accurate product. It’s a being — the atypical (and sometimes iconic) baton of the Surface casting from the actual beginning, Panos Panay. He’s amenable for the conception of Surface — and has been accretion its ability for able-bodied over a decade. This is a man that already got teary-eyed at a columnist appointment anecdotic the abstruse affecting appulse one of his new accessories had on him. It’s his baby.

That’s why his abandonment from Microsoft was such a surprise. It’s adamantine to anticipate about what Surface is after him, and it’s adamantine to adapt his abandonment after alive added about what happened abaft the scenes. We don’t apperceive if the aggregation capital to apathetic bottomward on new Surface releases and that put Panay off — or conceivably he absolutely did see a acute approaching over at his new position at Amazon.

We apperceive that according to one address from Business Insider, Panay wasn’t blessed with some “significant cuts to abridge the Surface business” and “focus added on Microsoft’s hits rather than the added beginning devices.” That’s black to hear, abnormally back Panay had afresh accustomed a appealing big advance in 2022 that saw the affinity of Windows and accessories beneath his atypical leadership. The achievement was that there would be added abutment abaft Surface and a added chip access to the accouterments and the software. If the proposed cuts were true, they would disengage a lot of the drive abaft this new centralized structure.

There is, however, a acumen for these cuts.

Surface was Panay’s baby.

The Surface casting has had a decidedly adamantine time in 2023 on the banking side. Of course, PC sales accept been in abatement all year. But in its annual report, Microsoft adumbrated that Surface acquirement decreased by $1.8 billion, falling alike harder than its competitors. Surface PC sales are not aloof a normalization of communicable trends — they accept agitated to pre-2019 levels.

That comes afterwards abounding years of advance for Surface devices, which had a adamantine alpha with the failure of Windows RT, but climbed aback year afterwards year. The Surface casting became a banking moneymaker for Microsoft while still arena an adorning role for added Windows PC manufacturers and blame designs in assertive directions. It’s auspiciously served that role over the years abounding times, with adventuresome 2-in-1 designs and alliances with ample ranges of cavity ally — it alike accepted ARM as an advantage advanced of its competition.

Ports on the Surface Laptop Studio 2.Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

With the added ambiguity in the industry, abnormally with the overall abatement of PC sales in 2023, it absolutely sounds like Microsoft was attractive to calibration aback the efforts on advance added in Surface. After all, the massive advance in AI has been arresting abundant of the accessible absorption and resources.

My point is not to speculate, but instead aloof to accomplish the point that Panay’s abandonment from Microsoft agency something for Surface. I accept a adamantine time apperception a bearings area Panay was abrogation abaft able abutment for Surface internally.

Of course, one apathetic year for the Surface doesn’t beggarly it’s asleep in the water. I can’t brainstorm that Microsoft will cull the bung entirely, as a aggregation like Google ability have. But the approaching of Surface is still uncertain, and for addition who’s consistently animated on the brand’s beginning success, that’s a shame. One beneath exceptional amateur in the apple of Windows accessories is never a acceptable affair for the bloom of the ecosystem — abnormally one that was accommodating to advance boundaries and try new things.

Surface ability still be about in bristles years, but it ability not accept the aforementioned audacious and aggressive spirit that fabricated it an important amateur in the Windows ecosystem.

Editors' Recommendations

  • I’m a laptop reviewer. Here’s why I still use a laptop from 2021
  • Don’t buy the Surface Laptop Go 3 — here’s what you should get instead
  • Everything Microsoft didn’t advertise at its 2023 Surface event
  • Microsoft Bing and Edge are accepting a big DALL-E 3 upgrade
  • Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go 3 is a added able account laptop

Luke Larsen

Luke Larsen is the Senior editor of computing, managing all agreeable accoutrement laptops, monitors, PC hardware, Macs, and more.

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