Microsoft’s delayed Surface Earbuds have an official May 12th release date and a lower $199 price tag, the company announced today.
Originally unveiled last October for $249, the Surface Earbuds are Microsoft’s first foray into truly wireless earbuds, joining the company’s existing over-ear Surface Headphones (which are also getting updated today with a new Surface Headphones 2 model).
According to Robin Seiler, corporate vice president of program management for devices at Microsoft, “We want to make sure we are competitive in market,” explaining the lower price point, which puts the Surface Earbuds closer in cost to competitors like the $179 Google Pixel Buds, $249 AirPods Pro, $129 Echo Buds, $179 Jabra Elite 75t, and the $229.99 Sony WF-1000XM3. That said, the $199 price point for the Surface Earbuds still puts them on the higher end of the spectrum, especially given that they don’t offer active noise cancellation.
Microsoft originally delayed the Surface Earbuds in order “to get all the details right,” according to Microsoft’s chief product officer, Panos Panay, which is echoed in comments from Seiler. “The work that we’ve done from October until now is from a software perspective, making sure the software is exactly what we wanted.”
The need for extra time to get the software right makes sense. Unlike most of the other wireless earbuds on the market, which are primarily focused on content consumption, Microsoft is pitching the Surface Earbuds as not only great for music, but as an essential productivity accessory to complement its Office suite of products. To that end, the Surface Earbuds promise excellent call quality, dictation, and software integration with apps like PowerPoint.
The hardware for the Surface Earbuds appears to be unchanged since October, with the slightly odd-looking puck design, along with support for tap and swipe gestures. Microsoft is promising up to eight hours of battery life off a single charge, with an additional two full recharges through the charging case for a total of 24 hours of listening time.