Microsoft has introduced new Surface devices, smart headphones


But Tuesday is all about Microsoft, which unveiled a slew of devices ahead of the holiday shopping season. Its offerings include a new version of its desktop computer, called the Surface Studio 2, and its first pair of smart headphones. It also announced Surface Pro 6 and Surface Laptop 2.

The first Surface desktop was introduced in October 2016, a competitor to the creativity-focused iMac. Its successor, the Surface Studio 2, offers better graphics performance and Microsoft says it’s the fastest Surface device ever made. It has a 28-inch screen and USB-C support. Available for pre-order on Tuesday starting at $3,499.

The Surface Headphones ($349) feature adjustable noise cancellation and auto-pause and play, which will pause the video you’re watching when removed. Microsoft’s voice assistant Cortana is integrated and can read your emails aloud or start a conference call. Surface Headphones will be available later this year.

Meanwhile, Microsoft says the Surface Pro 6 is 67% faster than its predecessor but has the same battery life (up to 13.5 hours). Microsoft also says it’s easy to switch between laptop, studio and tablet mode. It comes in black and platinum and starts at $899.

The original Surface Pro was launched as a tablet in 2012. It looked like an iPad, but with the addition of a keyboard cover. Microsoft ( MSFT ) has switched to a touchscreen laptop. This 2-in-1 format is aimed at doctors, pilots and students who need tablets for note-taking or reading, but a laptop for full functionality.

The Surface Laptop 2 (starting at $999) has faster, quieter typing and 14.5 hours of battery life, according to Microsoft. It’s 85% faster than its predecessor, and the Surface Laptop 2 comes in a new color (black), in addition to the existing options of burgundy, platinum, and blue.

Surface Laptop 2 has faster and quieter typing.

“More and more, devices are becoming part of your whole life. We build these things to engage your work and your personal life,” Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s corporate VP of modern life and devices, told CNN.

The company also unveiled its next-generation Windows software — called Windows 10 October 2018 Update — which focuses on productivity. For example, Your Phone App brings texts and photos from your Android phone to your computer. (Apple supports such an integration for its iMessage service.) You can also integrate a to-do list into Outlook.com, and drag an item into an open slot on your calendar to block off a time to complete it.

The primary audience for these new Microsoft devices is business professionals, according to Andrew Hewitt, an analyst at research firm Forrester. Ahead of Tuesday’s event, Microsoft said it has invested heavily in productivity elements like Timeline, which lets you pick up where you left off in files and websites, and Focus Assistant, a feature that limits distractions like notifications.

“There’s Microsoft trying to compete with Apple in the creative space with new image and movie editing capabilities,” Hewitt said. “But other features are much more in line with Microsoft’s mission to empower workers to be productive.”