Microsoft's zombie Lumia 950 / 950XL, plus Surface Pro 4 / Book (and ^2)

Redmond tweaks Surface Pro, adds 'unusual' Surface Book, and offers an undead Lumia last hurrah

Microsoft Surface Lumia
Le Web (cc:by)

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and chums introduce the world to new Windows hardware. There's an improved tablet (Surface Pro 4), a new convertible laptop (Surface Book), and a pair of pointless flagship phones (Lumia 950 and 950XL).

(There was also a new Band and some HoloLens news, but life's too short, sorry.)

Microsoft's new aim here is "to create and reinvent categories," we're told. Well, aside from creating an "ugly laptop" category, it's hard to see where they're going with this one. And let's face it, these twin phones aren't going to turn anything around, so farewell, Lumia.

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers peer through the swirling mists. Not to mention: Unbelievable power-of-2 weirdness...

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.

Andrew Cunningham sits on it:

[You're fired -Ed.]

The Surface Pro 4 makes many changes, but the keyboard and kickstand work the same way as they did last year, which makes the Surface Pro 4 feel like the most iterative version of the tablet yet (that's not a bad thing).

12.3 inches with a 2736×1824 resolution [but] the capacitive Windows button is totally gone. ... The new Type Cover's keyboard is an improvement over the old one. ... The larger multitouch trackpad is also a subtle but welcome improvement.

The base $899 model, for example, uses a Skylake Core m3 processor [which] will make it...fanless. ... Core i7 versions of the Skylake chips all include Intel's Iris graphics [with] 64MB of dedicated eDRAM [which] gives the i7 the potential for significantly improved graphics performance.

For $1,299, you step into what we suspect will be the sweet spot for most people: a Core i5 with 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM.  MORE

Paul Thurrott judges the Book by its cover:

Microsoft’s new Surface Book takes the firm’s tablet line into new territory with a unique 2-in-1 design. ... The screen, at 13.5-inches, is much bigger. ... And the base is a full hardware keyboard...that contains all of the device’s expansion ports.

The Surface Book is...ugly, with an awkward design due to its admittedly unique (looking) never closes flat. The hinge looks weird, but works.

If you can live with the awkward look, however, the Surface Book is packed with goodness. ... 6th generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors...up to 16 GB of RAM...up to 1 TB of storage. It can also be configured with a second, discrete NVIDIA graphics chip. ... Microsoft claims it is 50 percent faster than a MacBook Pro. ... Resolution of 3000 x 2000. ... Battery life is rated at 12 hours. 8 GB of RAM is the minimum...two USB 3.0 ports...full-sized SD card slot, the SurfaceConnect port (for power and dock) cameras, but no word on Windows Hello.

$1499 and up. You can preorder Surface Book starting on October 7, with deliveries starting on October 26.  MORE

And Chris Smith forges a story about those phones nobody will buy:

Microsoft is a distant third player in the mobile business. [But] Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL...come with a feature that no competitor can offer right now. ... Called Windows Continuum, the unique...feature lets anyone turn the device into an almost full-fledged Windows 10 computer.

[It] seems relatively easy, at least in Microsoft’s demo. You still need a special Microsoft Display Dock. ... Once that’s done, Windows 10 appears on the screen, where the user can continue to use the universal apps that are already preloaded on the phone.  MORE

So Terry Myerson publishes the obligatory Redmondian breast-beating:

We’ve been talking about Windows 10 for over a year now and today we started our next chapter...a new era of Windows 10 devices. ... I’ve been using these devices for months and couldn’t wait to share them.

I’m personally humbled and excited to see people around the world loving Windows 10. ... We’re seeing a great response from IT professionals. ... I’ve also been thrilled to see the response from developers.

Our approach to hardware is to create and reinvent categories. ... With the depth and breadth of Windows 10 devices...from low cost budget PCs to premium and elegantly designed high performance hardware, we hope you’ll consider a Windows 10 device from Microsoft or our partners.  MORE

But Randall C. Kennedy asks, "Where’s the beef?"

Microsoft had an opportunity to really "wow" the industry with something new and innovative. Instead, it served up a re-hash of technologies and trends that [are] old news.

Surface Pro 4 [is] Evolutionary rather than revolutionary. ... If anything, Microsoft has walked the design back in some areas, like the bezel size.

Surface Book [is] the fattest Surface ever, heavier than a pair of Surface 3s glued together and almost as ugly. ... That hinge. Those horrible serrated looking vents. The "muscle" locking mechanism.

[It's] very "retro" of Microsoft to keep the drab Lumia styling of yesteryear alive and well in 2015. ... (That object whizzing by your head was a Lumia 950XL after the owner realized she couldn’t snap Edge and Word together.)  MORE

Meanwhile, on the Internet, nobody knows Nicholas Thompson is a dog:

[Woof -Ed.]

“As devices come and go, you persist.” Nadella...was speaking to people who’d been knocked into something of a demonstrations designed to evoke sex alongside bezels and pixels.

Nadella’s proclamation may have sounded like techno-malarkey, signalled a very interesting way that the soft-spoken forty-eight-year-old C.E.O. has changed America’s third-largest company. ... “The lesson we have learned can’t fall in love with this one thing becoming the hub for all things and for all time to come.” That philosophy is, in many ways, the opposite of the old Microsoft. ... He talks about Microsoft as someone might discuss a cause.

Its new Lumia phone line [is] the most promising remnant of Microsoft’s disastrous acquisition of the Finnish device-maker Nokia, a stink-bomb deal. ... Surface sales so far this year are more than double last year’s sales [and] Apple paid Microsoft a high compliment by seeming to have copied the device. ... Surface Book [is] a rather low-key name for a high-profile product. Here was the reinvention...either a beautiful way to reimagine a laptop...or something likely to confuse the hell out of most people.

The company will never catch up to Apple or to Google’s Android, where phones are concerned. ... So now it’s trying to make all the other devices—namely tablets and laptops—exciting again.  MORE

And Finally...
Think you know all about powers of 2? Think again!

You have been reading IT Blogwatch by Richi Jennings, who curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites… so you don't have to. Catch the key commentary from around the Web every morning. Hatemail may be directed to @RiCHi or  Opinions expressed may not represent those of Computerworld. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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