Microsoft’s Fall Windows and Surface Event Recap and Analysis

September 22, 2023 / Ben Bajarin

On September 21st, 2023 Microsoft held their fall event focusing on new capabilities of Windows around AI and launching new Surface hardware. Below are our thoughts on what was significant and a recap of the main news.

What’s Significant

Microsoft continues to weave AI into the total experience with Windows and Office, which in our view will only deepen the value of Microsoft 365 and ultimately make the Microsoft suite of software more attractive. With Office, Microsoft has been up against competitive dynamics where many consumer and business users were mix and matching productivity suite apps, often using several from Google and Microsoft simultaneously as part of their productivity workflow.  One interesting thing about the deepened integration of generative AI across these software suites is that it will work even better when fully committed to just one software ecosystem. In our view, consumers may tend to gravitate toward one platform. We also think Microsoft has more creative levers to pull to discount or bundle assistance into corporate pricing models where Google may not with their current implementation of Workspace.

Surface continues its path as a showcase hardware product serving several purposes.  Firstly, offering a competitive design and clean integration of Windows to provide competition to Apple in the $1000 and above price point.  Second, to be the best expression of Microsoft’s vision for Windows and PC integration. From this vantage point, one of the more interesting opportunities for Surface hardware will be to also be the best implementation of Copilot as this generative AI assistant becomes more fully embedded into all of Microsoft’s products. As of now, we feel Surface is the primary competitive play to Apple in PC hardware and doubling down on Copilot as a productivity and creativity assistant can be a way Surface hardware stands out even more from the pack.


What Was Announced

Microsoft Copilot Deeper Integration

  • Copilot will be accessible from the taskbar and with a Win+C keyboard shortcut on Windows 11. It will provide assistance and suggestions alongside apps and content the user is interacting with.
  • On Windows 11, Copilot draws on web context, work data, and activity on the PC to offer personalized help. Microsoft emphasizes it has privacy and security as a priority.
  • In Microsoft 365 apps like Word, Excel, Outlook etc., Copilot will use understanding of the user’s work content to suggest relevant images, write text, schedule meetings and more. It aims to automate tedious tasks.
  • The Microsoft 365 Chat version of Copilot specifically understands a user’s work universe including emails, meetings, documents etc. It aims to give head starts on complex tasks like drafting strategy docs or planning trips.
  • Copilot will also be integrated into Bing and Edge to power features like personalized search, shopping recommendations, visual search, and image creation.
  • Microsoft sees Copilot as transforming productivity across work and life by combining AI capabilities from across its products. It can understand context and provide intelligent assistance.
  • Copilot is in early stages but Microsoft’s vision is for it to be a unified AI experience that works seamlessly across Windows, Microsoft 365, Bing, Edge and more.

Here are some paragraphs summarizing the key points about Microsoft’s announcements around Copilot:

Microsoft’s unveiling of Copilot represents their vision for a unified AI experience that works seamlessly across their products. Rather than having siloed AI features, Copilot aims to provide an integrated AI assistant that delivers helpful insights and recommendations wherever the user needs them. This demonstrates Microsoft’s strategy to bring together AI capabilities from services like Windows, Microsoft 365, Bing and Edge to make them more useful.

A key benefit of Copilot is its ability to understand user context by leveraging Microsoft’s data and cloud services. This allows the AI assistant to be more personalized and relevant to each user’s individual needs. Microsoft is primarily positioning Copilot as a productivity aid for home, work and school. The integration into Office apps shows a practical focus on using AI to assist with everyday tasks.

On a broader scale, Microsoft seems to be aiming to mainstream advanced AI through Copilot. By baking it directly into widely used consumer products, they are making the technology more accessible to the masses. This could help Microsoft better compete with rival AI assistants like Google Assistant and Alexa. While still an early preview, Copilot signals Microsoft’s confidence in AI becoming an integral part of computing. It represents the beginning of a long-term AI initiative and shift to an AI-first future for the company.

New Surface Hardware

  • Surface Laptop Studio 2 is the most powerful Surface yet, with 12th Gen Intel Core processors and NVIDIA RTX graphics. It has a 14.4″ touchscreen display and can transform between laptop, stage, and studio modes.
  • Surface Laptop Go 3 is lightweight and portable with a 12.4″ touchscreen. It comes in new colors like Sage and has a fingerprint power button. It aims to deliver performance with 11th Gen Intel Core i5.
  • Surface Go 4 for Business is a 2-in-1 targeted at frontline workers and educators. It’s lightweight and portable with a 10.5″ touchscreen.
  • Surface Hub 3 is an interactive collaboration device with 50″ and 85″ sizes. It comes with Windows 11 and is optimized for Teams Rooms. New features include portrait orientation, auto-rotation, and intelligent camera framing.
  • Surface accessories announced include new pen grips for the Surface Pen to improve accessibility. They can be 3D printed or purchased. This expands Surface’s inclusive design efforts.
  • The new Surface devices showcase capabilities like Windows Studio Effects in the Pro 9, AI-enhanced collaboration on the Hub 3, and overall aim to bring Microsoft’s latest AI innovations to life through premium hardware.

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