The first Surface was a huge risk. Microsoft entered the PC market in order to compete with its Windows partners. It was trying to create a new category by combining laptops and tablets. It was betting that the mobile era would change how laptops work and how people use them.

It took a couple of years for the Surface line to hit its stride because Microsoft didn't get it all right. You can't argue with the results from a decade ago. The idea of attaching a keyboard to a tablets became commonplace around the industry, but Surface became a big business for Microsoft. Even though the Surface Studio is one of the most ambitious desktop PCs ever made, it's still a winner. One of the best Windows PCs you can purchase is the Surface Pro 8.

You can't argue with the results from a decade ago.

Microsoft is going to announce a bunch of new Surface products this week as it celebrates the 10th anniversary of the product. There are rumors that a new Surface Studio, a Surface Laptop 5, and a Surface Pro 9 could be coming. They will be good competitors in the Windows market.

It is terrible that this event is happening at this time. After a huge boost in the PC market, everybody bought new computers in 2020 and 2021, and so far isn't looking for another upgrade, it's terrible. The market needs a new idea about how computers are supposed to work. Is Microsoft able to do the same thing again?

Microsoft has shown off a few devices in the past. The Surface Pro X, Surface Neo, and Surface Duo are dual screen and foldable devices. The Surface Duo has gotten better over the last couple of years despite the fact that the Surface Neo died before it hit the market.

The most interesting announcement at the event was the Surface Pro X, an excellent next- generation PC, thinner and cooler and Arm-powered, but it couldn't escape its app compatibility and performance problems. Since at least the Courier days, Microsoft has been interested in these types of devices, and as foldable phones continue to improve and gain traction, we probably haven't seen the last of Microsoft's efforts here.

The smaller, lighter, and less expensive Surface Go is one of the devices Microsoft hasn't figured out. The Go could be Microsoft's best answer to the iPad and Chromebooks, because it's a tablet-like device with all the extra productivity that comes with Windows. The high price and poor battery life of the third generation of Surface Go made it impossible. Microsoft has yet to nail the balance of performance, price, and portableness.

The Surface Go 3, Microsoft’s tiny tablet.
The Surface Go has never quite been the accessible PC Microsoft needs.
Photo by Becca Farsace / The Verge

Microsoft needs to figure out how to make Arm-powered Windows computers work in order to push the boundaries of the PC market again. The future is headed towards the Pro X so it has to keep working on it. People want laptops that boot faster, last longer, and work everywhere, as the gap between phones and computers collapses. Arm-powered devices come in all sorts of thinner, lighter, and more interesting shapes because the Arm processor runs more efficiently and interacts with cellular connections. Nobody cares if those devices don't work. It means fixing battery life problems, improving Windows performance, and fixing app compatibility.

It is not lost on Microsoft that they haven't done it very well. The company has been working on various "Windows on Arm" projects for years, including a native Arm version of Visual Studio and a developer kit that can be used to test their apps on Arm systems. Microsoft tried to make a lighter version of Windows called Windows 10X, but it couldn't succeed because of a better app environment.

The most recent update to the OS improves the situation even more since Windows 11 brought some of those lightweight vibes. The Windows store is growing. Microsoft is moving in the right direction when it comes to simplicity and efficiency, but you wouldn't confuse Windows with anything like iPadOS or ChromeOS.

Microsoft has needed a true flagship Arm device for a long time. It's clear that the era of the ultra- mobile, ultra-functional PC is here if the one that gets it right pairs performance and battery. It would push developers to make their apps work on those devices, manufacturers to invest in Arm devices, and users to rethink the way they use their laptops.

It's not clear whether the hardware, the software, or the chips are ready for that leap. Things are heading that way. If Microsoft wants its second decade of Surface to be more important than the first, it needs to go to this place.

If that device had two screens or a new way to fold, what would it look like? I wouldn't complain about it.