NEW YORK – Microsoft refreshed its Surface tablet computers Monday, giving them longer battery life and better comfort on laps as the software giant continues its transformation into a devices and services company.
The company said it tried to address many shortcomings of the first-generation Surface models, sales of which have been slow. Microsoft needs to boost its tablet business to make up for sales declines in traditional desktop and laptop computers. IDC is forecasting a nearly 10 percent decline in PC shipments this year. The research firm also said tablets will outsell traditional PCs in the last three months of the year.
The new tablet models come with a better built-in kickstand so they can rest more firmly on users laps while they sit on the couch. Microsoft is also making a docking station and a wireless mouse for business customers who need the mobility of tablets but also desire the traditional ways of using computers.
Weve definitely gotten a year smarter, said Brian Hall, general manager of sales and marketing for Surface.
The redesigned Surface tablets come at a time of transition for Microsoft. Earlier this month, Microsoft struck a deal to acquire Nokias phone and services business for $7.2 billion.
The company is also searching for a new CEO to replace Steven Ballmer, who announced plans to retire within the next year.
The Surface Pro 2 is targeted at professionals who want the full power of a laptop in a tablet-style device. With a starting price of $899, the Pro 2 uses a full version of the upcoming Windows 8.1, meaning it can run any program written for Windows desktops and laptops.
The Pro 2 promises 75 percent more battery life than the debut Pro model, which came out in February. Microsoft said the improvement comes partly from the use of Intels Haswell chip, which uses less energy.
A cheaper model, Surface 2, offers a 25 percent improvement in battery life, which means it can get up to 10 hours of use.
It also has a better screen compared with last Octobers Surface RT.