Microsoft competes with Apple with new Surface range

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Microsoft takes on iMac with Surface Studio as it seeks to unlock users’ creativity with Windows 10

Microsoft has expanded the Surface range with an updated high end Surface Book and a brand new all-in-one PC called the Surface Studio, that will go head-to-head with the iMac in the battle for the creative industries.

The two new systems were shown off at an event in New York City yesterday (Wednesday), with Microsoft claiming they showed only Windows 10 could offer the breadth of devices necessary to support creators both at home and at work. There had been rumours of an appearance of the planned new Surface phone, but that well…didn’t surface.

“There needs to be a breadth of devices to meet the needs of the most professional creator to the youngest creator,” said Terry Myerson, who heads up Microsoft’s Windows and Devices Group. “So we work harder than anyone to make sure there’s a [great choice of devices].”

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The Surface Studio boasts a 28-inch touchscreen that can bend to several angles thanks to what Microsoft calls a “zero gravity hinge”, allowing users to sketch or annotate using the Surface Pen. Moreover, the screen is just 12.55mm thick, making it the thinnest desktop monitor ever made. Inside, it has 32GB of RAM, 2TB hard drive and just one cable coming out of the back.

The display also has 13.5 million pixels, so the idea is the user gets a good view of their content no matter how close or far they are away from the screen. A piece of paper will look just the same on the display as it would in real life, according to Panos Panay, head of Surface computing at Microsoft, who talked about the concept of “True Colour”.

“One inch on this screen is one inch in real life,” he said. “This concept of print preview is gone. Surface Studio was made to be a new category of product. This is about endless possibilities and pure imagination. It’s got the best screen in its class, performance is unmatched. Windows and Office have never been better on any single other product.”

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The Surface Studio also works with the Surface Dial, a new input device that acts like an analogue dial, and can be programmed to perform certain tasks. The Surface Studio will cost $2,999 (£2,452) when it is released before the end of this year, but Panay said there would only be “limited quantities” before Christmas. Whether this was a genuine warning or an attempt to drum up interest remains to be seen.

Last year, Microsoft added the Surface Book – a traditional laptop with a detachable touchscreen – and this has now been updated with twice the graphical capabilities and a 30 percent longer battery life. Indeed, Microsoft claims the Surface Book i7 will last for 16 hours.

“It really is the ultimate laptop,” said Panay. The Surface Book i7 will cost £2,399 (£1,961) but Panay acknowledges this is for customers who demand power rather than entry level users.

“It’s really for people pushing performance,” he added. “But not everyone needs that performance. There’s a Surface out there for every single person out there. I’m sure of it.”