Why your company will buy a Microsoft Surface all-in-one soon

News broke today that Microsoft is looking to the supply chain for help with a Surface AIO. Here's why you will buy one someday.

surface pro

There's not much to go on here, but a report in Digitimes suggested today that Microsoft is working on an all-in-one (AIO) desktop (think an iMac running Windows 10) to compliment their tablet and what many believe will be a Surface phone debuting soon.

The report says Microsoft has started looking into "upstream suppliers" and that the model will debut in the third quarter of 2016. The report also mentioned the incredibly popular Surface Book would get a refresh, but not until it can use Intel Kaby Lake.

If you're not following these processor schedules -- and I don't blame you because it tends to be a little inside baseball -- the new line that replaces Skylake is delayed until next year. Yet, they do tend to feed into the entire product roadmap of almost every computer company on the planet -- everyone from Acer to even Microsoft is at the mercy of the largest chipset maker in the world.

I've gone back and forth on the AIO market. As Digitimes rightly mentions, the sales have dropped a bit, from 14M in 2015 down to 12.6M in 2016.

Here's why they will come back eventually. For at least a decade or more, the laptop has become the most reliable piece of office equipment. You use it at your desk, you use it at Starbucks, you use it in the break room. That's changing, slowly but surely. Even Microsoft took a stab at using a phone as a computer with the Microsoft Lumia 950 and 950XL, and Ubuntu has taken the mantle with phones that can connect to a keyboard, a mouse and a desktop screen.

What's about to change? Bots. Lot and lots of bots. We will talk to them, ask them for directions, and dictate entire business reports in the near future. That means your phone that always seemed like it could be a computer will become a computer, and you won't need the keyboard or the mouse.

Flying off to San Francisco for a week? Leave the laptop behind, because you can dictate all of your emails to a bot. Need to do a presentation? Soon, you will assemble one by voice. "Grab all of the slides from last year and insert the new figures" could actually work. It might be a while, or it might be next week. Who knows? 

I recently booked an entire business trip with an app by texting. I never looked up a single flight, never did an online search (sorry, Google), and trusted that an A.I.-assisted service would find a cheap flight. Normally, I'd crack open a laptop and go to Expedia.com. It was amazingly easy.

Companies will recognize this shift soon enough, and they might even start preparing for it. That's where the AIO will make a big rebound. You won't need a laptop anymore, but you will need a computer for your office, one with a screen that also happens to play Netflix in pristine quality (during breaks, of course), lets you do some serious photo and video-editing work, and always sits right there where you need it, never slipping into a laptop bag on the way to Toledo.

I've always though an AIO has staying power because it's essentially a screen with a computer, and I doubt screens will go away anytime soon. If anything, we're using them even more.

So, goodbye laptop. Hello phone and AIO. We missed ya.

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