Microsoft is reportedly planning to release a monitor-only version of its Surface Studio in 2020. “Microsoft will finally deliver a Surface monitor in the 2020 timeframe,” claims Brad Sams in Beneath A Surface, a new book detailing the history of Microsoft’s Surface efforts. While you might expect a regular PC monitor, in true Surface style it will have its own unique twist. Microsoft will reportedly swap to a modular design, which is something that Surface chief Panos Panay hinted at in an interview with The Verge recently.
Sams’ book reveals the struggles Microsoft has had with its Surface hardware, from the days of a $900 million Surface RT writedown to it being a billion dollar business for the company. All eyes are now on 2019 and beyond for Surface, and Sams claims Microsoft’s “pocketable” Andromeda device has morphed into a larger form factor. This is likely because Microsoft has been struggling to justify the device internally, but a larger design could debut late next year.
Microsoft is also reportedly planning a Surface-branded ambient computing device. This could be hardware that brings Cortana more into an office or home environment. Microsoft demonstrated a wild futuristic meeting room earlier this year with prototype hardware designed to automate meetings. A new type of Surface hardware would compliment Microsoft’s move into audio with its Surface Headphones.
Sams also hints at a growing frustration between Microsoft and Intel. Like other PC makers, Microsoft is waiting on Intel to finally ship its 10nm processors. Intel’s new chips are supposed to launch in 2019, despite rumors they’ve been canceled. Microsoft could be looking to AMD as an alternative, as Sams notes an AMD-based Surface Laptop could be released in late 2019. Microsoft is reportedly considering using AMD Picasso chips.
If Microsoft does move to AMD chips, this would be a big warning sign for Intel. Intel reportedly convinced Microsoft not to choose ARM for Surface Go, and it’s now facing strong competition from AMD for desktops and laptops. 2019 is going to be an interesting year for Surface and Intel.