With its tiny bezels and incredibly thin chassis, last year’s Surface Pro X had one of the most impressive designs I’ve seen on any 2-in-1 ever, and now for 2020, Microsoft is refreshing its lone ARM-based Surface with a new processor and flashy platinum paint job.
Featuring a new SQ2 chip which Microsoft says was created thanks to close partnership with Qualcomm (and is almost certainly based on the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2), Microsoft says the new Surface Pro X should have even better performance, though it’s unclear by how much.
Meanwhile, in addition to the new platinum version balancing out the existing black model, Microsoft is also introducing new colors for the Surface Pro X’s Signature Keyboard in platinum, ice blue, and poppy red. And that’s about it, because it seems that nothing related to the Surface Pro X’s display, RAM, or storage is getting a major update.
So at this point, you might be saying, wait is that everything? And admittedly a new CPU and paint job aren’t enough to completely overhaul a device. But at the same time, the Surface Pro X didn’t need a lot of help in terms of hardware or design. After using last year’s model extensively, the big issue for the Surface Pro X was (and still is) the difficulty in porting over new apps to ARM64 or getting older legacy Windows apps to run in emulation.
In the past year, Microsoft has pushed out some important developments including a new version of Edge and Teams designed to run natively on both x86 and ARM-based processors. Notably, Microsoft says that due to these changes and a number of other optimizations, both the new and old models of the Surface Pro X should have battery life of up to 15 hours on a charge.
Trying to transition Windows over to ARM was always going to be a challenge, and Microsoft needed to release the Surface Pro X just so that the company could have a first-party device it could use to run and improve its Windows on ARM software. So in a way, the most valuable thing Microsoft is demonstrating with the Surface Pro X’s 2020 refresh is a commitment to the Windows on ARM platform itself. And with Apple already planning to switch its entire PC division over to custom ARM-based chips, if Microsoft wants Windows on ARM to succeed, it can’t afford to let up.