Get ready to fire off your wittiest tweets tomorrow, when Microsoft will be live in New York City with a Windows 10 press event.
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The official announcement only includes the date and time—10 a.m. Eastern—and a link to Microsoft's live stream, but we have a pretty good idea of what to expect. I'll be there tomorrow with PCMag's Juan Martinez, so we'll have all the details, but until then, here's what Redmond is likely (and unlikely) to unveil.
Windows 10 Updates
Given that Microsoft began explicitly referring to the conference as a Windows 10 event, this is the easiest call to make. The company's newest operating system received a big revamp in August in the form of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, but we're expecting two substantial Windows 10 updates next year. Some Twitter sleuthing indicates the first will arrive in March (the version numbers correlate to release month and year), though what, exactly, will be included in these updates is difficult to say. Improvements to existing features like Windows Ink are most likely based on current test builds for Windows Insiders. Other signs point to a smart device-focused addition called HomeHub, Windows Central reports (more on that below). Whatever's on tap, I expect live walkthroughs to take up a large portion of tomorrow's event, so the specifics won't stay a mystery for long.
No Surface Book 2 or Surface Pro 5
Surprisingly, Microsoft's existing Surface products are not expected to feature this week. The Surface Book was a completely fresh and pleasant surprise last year, so it's a bit soon for a major redesign. The same goes for the Surface Pro 4; look for that in early 2017 instead.
But if either product does show up, the upgrades will probably come in the form of a processor refresh. Intel's new Kaby Lake processors are already out there in other systems, and the Surface Book and Pro 4 are prime candidates for an upgrade given Kaby Lake's vaunted heat reduction and improved performance.
Surface-branded hardware we are likely see is a long-rumored all-in-one desktop. Rumors suggest it will be called the Surface Studio, a new development that (forgive the pun) surfaced on the blog Trademark Ninja. But ZDNet also reports on a similar project known as "Cardinal."
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Why an all-in-one in an increasingly mobile world? In the same way that Google provides a roadmap for its Android operating system with its Nexus—and now, Pixel—phones, a potential Surface AIO could be a Microsoft-fronted bastion for how Windows 10 can and should operate on a desktop. The Studio name also implies a one-stop-shop for professionals at home or in the office, and I'd expect a slim and modern design like that of the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book (and, indeed, like an Apple iMac with a touch screen) to reflect that aim.
In 2015, Microsoft filed for a patent for a modular desktop—which may or may not be related to the rumored Studio—that comes in a few different screen sizes. This might be the most surprising and fresh announcement out of the event, so watch closely for any more developments.
Further fueling this rumor are reports about a Surface Bluetooth keyboard. Windows Central uncovered a Microsoft promotional image that shows a wireless keyboard that strongly mirrors the Surface aesthetic but differs from the company's current keyboard. It's possible that it's meant for any use, but it would make sense with the Studio, and the timing is certainly convenient.
An Alexa Competitor
With the praise heaped on Amazon's Echo, it's not surprising that Microsoft would want a home AI assistant device of its own. Windows Central's sources cite a device to accomplish just that, and Microsoft already has Cortana to act as host. The product is supposedly linked to the aforementioned HomeHub and it makes a lot of sense, especially if Microsoft is already looking to stake out space in your house with the Studio.