The latest rumors about the so-called Surface Pro 5 appear to be just that, based on recent statements from Microsoft’s hardware chief. Despite the Surface Pro 4 launching well over 18 months ago, if Microsoft’s working on a new tablet as expected, it seems likely to be a simple refresh of the current model.
Speaking with CNET, Microsoft hardware chief Panos Panay said the company doesn’t plan to produce the expected Surface Pro 5 until there’s a way to make “meaningful change” in the product. Panay warns that doesn’t necessarily mean Microsoft’s waiting for some amazing new processor—which Intel’s current Kaby Lake is not, compared to the Skylake chip already in the Surface Pro 4.
Meaningful change could also come from a significant boost in battery life or a lighter device, according to Panay. “I’m looking for an experiential change that makes a huge difference in product line,” Panay said. But for now “there’s no such thing as a [Surface] Pro 5,” he says.
The story behind the story: Microsoft’s upcoming event scheduling makes more sense in light of Panay’s statements. A Surface Pro refresh is widely expected, but there’s no major event scheduled in New York, the site of the Surface Pro 2, 3 and 4 reveals. The original Surface Pro debuted in 2012 in Los Angeles, but there’s nothing on the books there either.
Instead, Microsoft has a smaller Surface event planned “to show the world what’s next” in Shanghai, China on May 23. This event is a bit of a mystery, but if a Surface Pro 5 isn’t coming, then it appears Microsoft could reveal a second-generation Surface Pro 4 updated with a Kaby Lake processor. Perhaps a price drop is also in order. Microsoft wouldn’t create an event just to show off a minor Surface Pro upgrade, though, so there’s probably something bigger planned as well—maybe more mixed reality hardware?