Microsoft unveils new Surface laptop, other updates


(AP) — Microsoft is doubling down on its Surface devices business, unveiling a new laptop Tuesday alongside an updated tablet.

Even as Microsoft has positioned the Surface as a laptop replacement, it’s making a separate Surface laptop model, the Surface Book. Microsoft says it’s for scientists, engineers and gamers who need a lot more performance than a tablet.

The laptop starts at $1,499, compared with $899 for the new Surface Pro 4 tablet. And while the Surface Book is called a laptop, the screen is detachable so that it effectively becomes a tablet. The company touted its clipboard-like functions for people on the go.

The Surface Pro 4 tablet is faster and thinner than before, yet it comes with a slightly larger screen at 12.3 inches.

Both devices will come out later this month.

Surface sales have picked up after a slow start. Revenue from tablets and accessories more than doubled in April-June quarter to $888 million. Microsoft is hoping for a further boost from the summer launch of Windows 10, which had favorable reviews. The Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 are the first Surface devices to ship with Windows 10 already installed, though older models are able to get free upgrades.

Although the Surface still represents a small part of Microsoft’s overall business, it provides a window into the company’s various ad-supported services, including search and maps.

At the closing of a nearly two-hour event in New York, CEO Satya Nadella said that the devices are part of Microsoft’s vision “to move people from needing Windows to choosing Windows to loving Windows.”

Earlier, Microsoft unveiled two new phones and a fitness tracker as it continues efforts to reduce its dependence on personal computers and traditional software.

The new Lumia 950 and 950 XL phones will work with an optional dock. You can attach a regular monitor, keyboard and mouse and work with apps on the phone just like you would on a Windows 10 desktop.

Microsoft has struggled to make phones that run Windows. Over the summer, the company wrote down the value of Nokia’s phone business, which it bought just a year earlier, for $8.4 billion. It also announced 7,800 job cuts in the phone business.

Microsoft is hoping to lure those who use Windows desktops and laptops regularly. The new phones are better at complementing those devices than iPhones and Android phones.

The new phones start at $549 and will be available in November.

The new Microsoft Band, meanwhile, now tracks elevation and works with the company’s Cortana virtual assistant. It will be available for $249 starting Oct. 30.

Microsoft also teased Xbox One games and console bundles and demonstrated its upcoming HoloLens virtual-reality device by showing a “mixed reality” game that combines animation with real-world objects. Attacking robots know how to break through walls and go around furniture.

Developers will be able to buy a prototype early next year for $3,000.

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