Microsoft surprised everyone with a refresh of its Surface Book today, but it's not a design overhaul at all. At an event in New York City this morning, I got a chance to get a closer look at the new Surface Book, and it looks very much like the same model from last year.
Microsoft's big reason for refreshing the Surface Book is to give it more battery life and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 965M GPU. Microsoft is claiming up to 16 hours of battery life in total, thanks to more space for the battery itself and a redesigned cooling system. That makes it slightly heavier and slightly thicker than the original, at 3.63 pounds compared to 3.48 pounds for the original model. Unfortunately, it doesn't have Intel's latest Kaby Lake processors inside, so it seems like we'll be waiting for a rumored Surface Book 2 until those appear.
During my brief hands-on with the device, I could barely notice the difference between the two. The updated model looks like it has more shallow keys because the base is slightly thicker, but Microsoft tells me they're the same and while they felt slightly different it wasn't noticeable after typing for a few moments. It was impossible to notice the extra weight, too. It feels just like the same model from last year. Other than the keyboard, the only other visual change is that Microsoft has shrunk the gap between the keyboard and the display. That might help with lint and other dust getting onto the keys when it's closed in a bag.
Microsoft really introduced this new Surface Book as a way to refresh the internals with more graphics power, and battery life. If you've been holding off on a Surface Book then this latest model makes a lot of sense if you need raw power. Unfortunately, it won't be cheap. The updated Surface Book will be available on November 10th with 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB configurations for $2,399, $2,799, and $3,299, respectively.
Update, 5:15PM ET: article updated with information on Surface Book gap reduction.