While speaking at Microsoft's annual Worldwide Partner Conference, Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner briefly shared a slide detailing 48 separate product and service updates and launches that Microsoft is planning between now and July 2014 in support of his claim that this will be Microsoft's "biggest innovation year, ever."
These innovations include improvements to Skype for supporting large meetings and groups, and further integration between the Windows phone 8 and Windows 8 operating system which could see apps written for the Windows desktop working on smartphones and vice versa.
But perhaps most interesting from a consumer perspective is the confirmation that new versions of the Surface Pro and Surface RT tablets are in the works, as too are a host of new accessories to support them.
The Surface RT in its initial incarnation may have been a dud but its more powerful sibling is an impressive piece of kit in all but three respects -- it's a bit on the heavy side, a bit on the expensive side and its battery life is less than impressive. It appears that Microsoft will be addressing the last issue by changing the device's processor for an Intel Haswell or Qualcomm chip which could also bring built-in 4G LTE to the Surface Pro. Also helping preserve battery life is the fact that some of these ‘accessories' are going to have the ability to retain and pass on battery charge to the Surface.
Although Turner didn't go into any details at the conference, a Microsoft Team led by Panos Panay that agreed to conduct a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) session in June hinted that the next generation type covers and touch covers would come in more colors and would be rechargeable. They also suggested that other accessories made by the company's partners that use the same dock to connect to the device would also be able to bring new and exciting functionality to Microsoft's tablets.
So, expect an official announcement regarding the next-generation Microsoft tablets and their accessories within the next six months.
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