LONDON -- Windows 10 is still in its very early days, but with adoption of the new operating system crushing that of Windows 8, Microsoft is now ready to show off some of the hardware built to take full advantage of the new system.
Microsoft will unveil its new range of hardware at an event in New York Tuesday, Oct. 6, at 10 a.m. ET, which will be attended by the company’s top executives, including CEO Satya Nadella. The Redmond, Washington-based company has given little away about what's in store, simply saying: “We have some exciting news to share about Windows 10 devices.” But we have a pretty good idea what to expect from a combination of reliable rumors and things Microsoft itself has said.
Lumia 950/950 XL
Microsoft has already announced it would launch flagship smartphones for its Windows 10 Mobile platform in 2015, and with time running out, the Oct. 6 event is where this will most likely happen.
Indeed, Microsoft itself has given the clearest indication yet of what these devices will be called and their specs, briefly listing the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL on its U.K. online store. The “accidental” listing came just a day after Google launched its own 2015 flagship devices, leading some to suggest the leak may have been on purpose.
The listing showed that the Lumia 950 will feature a 5.2-inch WQHD display, a 20-megapixel camera with Zeiss optics, and 32GB storage with up to 2TB expansion via microSD; the Lumia 950 XL features the same resolution, camera and storage options but with a larger 5.7-inch screen. Both phones are also set to feature USB-C support.
The variables are price and release date, which we will hopefully find out Tuesday.
With the subtle code name of Project Juggernaut Alpha, the long-rumored Surface phone certainly seems like it will be launched by Microsoft at some point, but it is unclear if the device will be ready in time for next Tuesday’s event.
A report in August detailed some impressive specs, including a high resolution 5.5-inch display, Intel’s Atom processor, a 21-megapixel lens and up to 4GB RAM. The Surface Phone is said to feature the same industrial design language of the Surface tablets and is currently being tested internally by Microsoft staff.
Surface Pro 4
Microsoft is widely expected to unveil the latest version of its Surface Pro range, with the Surface Pro 4 replacing the Surface Pro 3 that was launched in May last year.
Microsoft is unlikely to significantly alter the external appearance of the Surface Pro 4, as the company last year committed to keeping the same charging ports in future devices in order to support businesses which have invested in the Surface platform and accompanying accessories.
However, there are likely to be some significant internal changes. With Windows 10 supporting biometric security through Windows Hello, we could see the addition of a RealSense camera for facial recognition. But these sensors are still pretty bulky, so if Microsoft is looking to keep its tablet as thin and light as possible, this may not make the cut. Another option would be the inclusion of a fingerprint sensor on the tablet itself or on the keyboard cover.
In terms of chips, Microsoft has two choices. The first is Intel’s new Skylake processors, which were unveiled last month and promise performance and power efficiency benefits over the current generation of chips. The other option is Intel’s Core M chips (code-named Broadwell), which would offer greater battery life but a lot less power.
A Bigger Surface Pro 4
There are a lot of rumors floating around that Microsoft will release a larger version of the Surface Pro, with a 14-inch screen, a higher 2560 x 1440-pixel resolution and potentially up to 1TB of storage alongside up to 16GB of RAM.
This sounds like a pretty powerful machine and would suit a lot of Windows 10 features -- like Snap, which allows for more powerful multitasking.
Microsoft Band 2
Microsoft’s first effort at a fitness tracker can only be described as a bit of a disaster. While it features some unique technology, such as a UV sensor to remind you when to put on a sun cream and a sensor to give you a galvanic skin response measurement to let you know when you are feeling stressed, it was not well designed and was very uncomfortable to wear. For a device that is meant to be worn all the time, this is a major issue..
Leaked images purported to be official renders from Microsoft show a completely redesigned device with a curved screen -- similar to that seen on Samsung’s Gear Fit, which was launched last year. The images show a band that combines a silicone rubber strap with a metallic surround for the screen as well as metallic buttons.
Slimmer Xbox One
With Microsoft set to reveal a new “Xbox One Special Edition: Gears of War Bundle” this week, including a white console and controller, it might sound a bit strange for the company to launch another new version of the Xbox One next week.
That said, rumors of a slimmer version of the console persist with some initially expecting an unveiling at E3 last June. However a lack of real details about what a slimmer Xbox One would look like, who it would be aimed at and how much it would cost, suggest this may be nothing more than rumor at this stage.
Windows 10 Update
With Windows 10 at the center of the everything Microsoft is going to announce Tuesday, we will likely hear a lot about the new software, how may apps have been developed for it and how many people are using it. Expect to hear a lot of superlatives about the upgrade rate. But as this has been compared to Windows 8, you have to put the rhetoric in perspective, since very few people liked that version of the software.