Microsoft hasn't exactly lit the tablet world on fire with its Surface tablets. That hasn't discouraged the company, however. Today, Microsoft announced tweaks to its line of Surface hardware, unveiling the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2. The new models (and new accessories) will launch in 22 markets (including the US and UK) on October 22. It'll also hit China in November. Pre-orders start September 24 at Microsoft's online store, its retail stores, and retailers like Best Buy.
The Surface Pro 2 is dubbed "a true laptop replacement" and can run most Windows software in addition to apps from the Windows Store. It comes packed with a fourth-generation Intel Core i5 processor "which, combined with other improvements, delivers increased performance and up to 60 percent longer battery life than Surface Pro." Prices for the Surface Pro 2 start at $899. It can be purchased in 64GB and 128GB configurations with 4 GB of RAM and 256GB and 512GB configurations with 8 GB of RAM.
The Surface 2 is the more affordable option, starting at $449, and is powered by an Nvidia Tegra 4 processor, and has better battery life (up to 10 hours for video playback) than the previous generation Surface. The 10.6-inch ClearType Full HD display offers 1080p video, and the tablet has been upgraded to USB 3.0 for faster file transfers. Additionally, the camera resolution has been increased, with a 3.5-megapixel front camera and 5-megapixel rear camera. It all runs on Windows RT 8.1, and comes in an overall thinner and lighter form factor. 32GB and 64GB configurations are available.
Microsoft has a ton of ground to make up in the tablets market. Total Surface sales were only $853 million, Microsoft noted in its last annual report. In stark contrast, Apple's iPad sales during a similar time period were $33.2 billion. Microsoft remains steadfast in its vision for the market, however. "We're right now focused 100 percent on building the best tablets for the world," Panos Panay, a Microsoft corporate vice president, said last week, according to The New York Times. "We haven't slowed down or lifted our heads a bit."