It’s safe to say that the Surface Pro series is the most successful Microsoft Surface of all-time. Not only is it the most best-selling PC Microsoft makes, but it’s also the one that’s been most heavily imitated by the rest of the market. The next one in the lineup is going to be the Surface Pro 8.
Being that it’s so successful, the Surface Pro is a product that pretty much gets updated every year. In fact, there have been seven iterations — eight if you include the Surface Pro 7+, which should have been its own – since the first one launched in 2013. The Surface Pro and Pro 2 were too small, too thick, and too heavy though; it was the Surface Pro 3 where the product came into maturity.
Surface Pro 8 release date: When is it coming out?
While nothing is confirmed, it’s likely the Surface Pro 8 is coming later this year. Typically, there’s an event in early October, and then the product ships a few weeks later. The event is usually held in New York City, although it’s not clear if Microsoft plans on sticking to its online-only format for a while longer.
There’s something else coming later this year though, and that’s Windows 11. When Microsoft launched Windows 10 back in 2015, it held a big bang hardware event where it announced the Surface Pro 4, the original Surface Book, the Lumia 950, the Lumia 950 XL, the Lumia 550, and the Microsoft Band 2.
For Windows 11, there will also be a hardware event, obviously without the wearables and Windows phones. Still, there’s going to be fresh new hardware to show off the new operating system. The Surface Pro 8 should definitely be among that hardware.
One thing that’s still up in the air is where it will be sold. Unlike the early days, Surface is a global brand. But with global chip shortages, it’s possible there might be limited availability of the Surface Pro 8 at launch.
Surface Pro 8: What we’re expecting
To be clear, the Surface Pro 8 is an unannounced product. Anything you see here is based on rumors, speculation, and bits and pieces from sources. First, let’s look at some backstory.
As mentioned above, the Surface Pro came into maturity with the Surface Pro 3 in 2014. That’s the one that looks and feels like the one you see today. With the Surface Pro 4 in 2015, it was made a bit thinner, and the screen was enlarged from 12 inches to 12.3 inches. There have been no major changes to the chassis since. There have been minor changes though, including the following:
- The Surface Pro 6 added a Black color option, rather than the traditional Platinum.
- The Surface Pro 7 ditched the Mini DisplayPort and replaced it with USB Type-C.
- The Surface Pro 7+ has removable storage.
The Surface Pro 8 should be a bigger design change
For a design that has remained largely the same since the introduction of Windows 10 six years ago, you can expect that to change. Indeed, the Surface Pro 4 was Windows 10 hero hardware. It’s time for the Surface Pro 8 to be Windows 11 hero hardware. This also makes sense, since the Surface Pro 7+ had more improvements than plenty of previous Surface models, but it still wasn’t called the Pro 8. The Redmond firm has something better in mind.
The Pro 7+ got removable storage as a business feature, but now, it’s common in the Surface Laptop and Surface Pro X. It still won’t be recommended you upgrade your storage yourself. After all, Microsoft wants to charge absurd markups on storage increments.
Really, this feature is made for businesses. It’s designed so if your Surface Pro 8 has sensitive information on it, you can remove the storage before it’s serviced. You can also destroy the storage when the device is recycled.
It should be the same design as the Pro X and Pro 7+, where you can pop open a hatch with a SIM tool.
A bigger screen with rounded corners
When the Surface Pro X originally launched, some assumed that was going to be the design of the next Surface Pro. That’s not quite the case. The Pro X is designed for ARM hardware, so it’s thinner and fanless. The Surface Pro 8 probably can’t get that thin.
What’s more likely is it will be like a thicker Surface Pro X, as much as that draws a parallel to the original Surface Pro and the Surface RT. But that means we’ll get a bigger, 13 inch display, and thinner side bezels. Indeed, if you look at the bezels on a Surface Pro 7+, you can tell it’s a six-year-old design. That larger display will have rounded corners too, because after all, this is Windows 11 hardware, and a big part of Windows 11 design is rounded corners.
Like the Surface Pro X, I’d expect the top and bottom bezels to be larger. The bottom bezel is bigger because of the way the keyboard attaches. The top bezel is bigger to fit the webcam and IR camera. I’d expect the webcam to remain the same, since it’s been 5MP and capable of 1080p resolution since 2014, something that’s still rare to this day.
The Surface Pro 8 will get a spec bump
If you go out and buy a flagship Intel-powered laptop right now, you’d get 11th-gen processors, unless you bought a Surface Pro 7. Indeed, Microsoft kept the Surface Pro 7+ for businesses. It should be no surprise the Surface Pro 8 will get new Intel processors.
There are two main possibilities here. The first is Microsoft will use Intel 11th-gen processors like we’ve seen in the Surface Pro 7+. It would be similar to what the firm did with the Surface Pro 3. The immediate predecessor had the same CPU, but it had an all-new design. Intel’s 11th-gen chips are legit too. They come with Iris Xe graphics, support for Thunderbolt 4, faster memory, and more.
The other key possibility is that Microsoft could use 12th-gen processors, codenamed Alder Lake. Alder Lake should be on track for later this year, and while Intel’s schedule isn’t confirmed, it could announce 12th-gen mobile processors sooner rather than later.
Surface Pro 8: How much will it cost?
You can expect the pricing scale will be mostly the same with the Surface Pro 8 as it was with the Pro 7. This really isn’t something that changes, although it’s possible the base model will be more expensive if Microsoft offers 8GB RAM instead of 4GB in the base model.
Right now, the Surface Pro 7 starts at $749.99 for a Core i3, 4GB RAM, and a 128GB SSD. The next step up comes with a Core i5, 8GB RAM, and a 128GB SSD, and while the regular price is $899.99, it’s often discounted to $699.99. It maxes out at $2,299.99 for a Core i7, 16GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD; however, I’d expect the top-end Surface Pro 8 to cost more than that. The Surface Pro 8 will likely max out with 32GB of RAM like the Surface Pro 7+ does.
Surface Pro 8: The wish list
This is the fun part of the article, where I get to talk about what I want to see, rather than what I think is coming.
If I made a wish list for every one of the last four or five Surface Pro tablets, this would top every one of them. Thunderbolt 4 supports 40Gbps data transfer speeds, external GPUs, dual 4K monitors, all on a single USB Type-C port. It’s incredibly powerful, and every premium Intel-powered PC has it — unless it’s made by Microsoft.
Microsoft was even slow to adopt USB Type-C, something it finally added with the Surface Pro 7. But Thunderbolt makes this machine so much more versatile. You could connect an external GPU, turning this little tablet into a miniature gaming rig.
I’d also like to see Surface Connect go away. That’s been Microsoft’s proprietary port since the Surface Pro 3. It’s always been set to a USB standard, originally USB 3.2 Gen 1 (USB 3.0 back then), and these days, it’s USB 3.2 Gen 2 for 10Gbps. Still, it’s no Thunderbolt, and indeed, Microsoft is the only company that’s still using a proprietary charging port in a device that requires less than 100W power. But if Thunderbolt 4 was included, there’d be legitimately no reason for anyone to ever use Surface Connect unless they’re using an old peripheral.
I also wouldn’t mind seeing USB Type-A go away. We’ve got two USB Type-C ports on the Surface Pro X, and it’s fine. Let’s ditch the legacy stuff and move forward.
Both the Surface Pro 7+ and Surface Pro X offer 4G LTE, but it’s time to offer 5G. Again, this is something we’re seeing across the board, especially in business PCs, and for Surface, Microsoft will have consumer and business SKUs. Lenovo’s mainstream and premium ThinkPads, Dell’s premium Latitudes, and HP’s mainstream and premium EliteBooks all offer 5G.
To be clear, you’re not exactly missing out by getting a 4G LTE PC. For many Americans, 5G won’t even get you an improvement right now. Still, it’s worth it for future-proofing.
An anti-glare screen
Every single Surface PC has a notoriously glossy display. If not totally matte, maybe we can just do a bit better. Let’s look at it this way. In today’s day and age, a lot of people are working from home, and since we don’t all want to stay inside all the time, that turns into working from anywhere. It could be a coffee shop, the park, or even just in the backyard to get some fresh air and sunlight.
This would be a fine argument for 5G, but it also works for a less reflective display. Surface displays are just hard to use outdoors, and outdoor use is more important than ever.
A quieter keyboard and touchpad
Microsoft is a company that really loves its click sounds, something it used to advertise in early Surface Pro tablets. It’s noticeable if you click a touchpad on a Surface, especially in a quiet room. It’s borderline embarrassing.
Every other company is working on quieter products. Let’s make this happen. I’d also love to see keyboard improvements. Some of the best keyboards around come from Lenovo and HP. I’d love to see Microsoft compete in this space, since that’s still our primary method for interacting with a PC.
Speaking of keyboard improvements, I’d like to see the pen stored and charged in the keyboard, like we see on the Surface Pro X. I wouldn’t mind a redesigned keyboard either, as the connectors haven’t changed, ever. You can use a Type Cover from the original Surface Pro and it will work with a Surface Pro 7+.
A high refresh rate screen
Windows 11 supports dynamic refresh rates, which can adapt to what you’re doing. However it gets done, it’s time for a high refresh rate display. We’ve seen it on Apple’s iPads for years now, and it’s popular on phones.
Here’s a better reason for it though. Gaming laptops have offered high refresh rate screens for years. That extra millisecond that buys you could make a difference in a game. Unfortunately, those screens tend to make other compromises, because it’s all about that gameplay. The Surface Pro 8 has an opportunity to be the PC that makes a high refresh rate about a better experience for everyone, not just gamers.