Surface Book 2 release date, news and rumors

In the time that’s passed since the launch of the original Surface Book, there have been two MacBook Pro refreshes as well as several new iPads. Since October 2015, we’ve seen a souped-up Surface Book i7 and a Surface Laptop, but there’s been no Surface Book 2 in sight.

While it’s anyone’s guess when or if a Surface Book 2 will show up, our bet is that we’ll see it later this year for the second anniversary of Microsoft’s winning laptop. It would make sense to see it this autumn around the same time as the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update since Microsoft has been known to tie in hardware reveals with new software.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The sequel to Microsoft's first laptop
  • When is it out? Signs point to autumn 2017
  • What will it cost? Probably to starts at $1,499 (£1,449, AU$2,299)

Surface Book 2 release date

While the Surface Laptop and Surface Pro are now on the shelves of your local e-retailer, there’s no telling when the Surface Book 2 will be here. While it’s safe to assume October (based on the previous two Surface Book releases), there haven’t been any true leaks to confirm our suspicions. Only this fake one.

Back in March, ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley said that the Surface Book 2 would be a no-show at Microsoft’s subsequent spring hardware event, which turned out to be totally true. Instead, we saw the first of the Surface Laptop in early May, followed by the Surface Pro reboot a few weeks thereafter. 

Surface Book 2 price

Reports from DigiTimes led us to believe that Microsoft would reveal a more traditional clamshell laptop at its spring showing, resulting in a drastic reduction in price. As it turns out, those reports were only half right. Instead of the Surface Book 2, Microsoft churned out a new addition to its winning hardware lineup, this time referred to simply as the Surface Laptop.

While the entry-level Surface Book of today would set users back a cool $1,299 (£1,449, AU$2,299), this type of device would reportedly come in at a more modest $1,000 (about £810, AU$1,300). We can safely expect a proper Surface Book 2 hybrid – if one exists at all – would retain the same starting price of the original, i.e., $1,499 or AU$2,299 (about £978).  

At any rate, as Microsoft’s top-end hardware offering, expect the Surface Book 2 to at least exceed the cost of the Surface Pro and the Surface Laptop.

surface book 2

We’re about to see a clash of the chrome logos in coffee shops everywhere

What we want to see

For as much as we've been smitten by the Surface Book, firmware issues aside, there will always be room for improvement (that would be the case even if it had earned top marks from us).

From the screen size and resolution to the hardware inside, we have a few ideas for how Microsoft could craft an even more awesome Windows 10 tablet.

An even better screen

Display-wise, the current model sports a 13.5-inch panel with a 3,000 x 2,000 (267 ppi) resolution that's backed by an integrated Intel HD Graphics 520 GPU. The new model may utilize the same size screen but offer a more conventional 4K resolution: 3,840 x 2,160. 

This rumor aligns with public knowledge about Intel's Kaby Lake architecture, which includes the VP9 and HVEC 10-bit decode for better 4K video streaming, though we’ll take it with a heavy sprinkling of salt. To this day, none of the Surface devices use the 16:9 aspect ratio necessary for true 4K UHD. 

Still, if there’s a resolution bump in tow, there should come a better way to actually detach the screen from the keyboard. After all, one of the most vocal complaints of the original Surface Book was its “muscle wire” locking mechanism. Likewise, let’s hope the Surface Book 2 doesn’t suffer the same backlight bleeding currently plaguing the new Surface Pro.

Otherwise, we could see the Surface Book 2 go the way of many of the best 2-in-1 laptops, honing in on a 360-degree rotating hinge in lieu of a removable one. Besides, the muscle wire was largely criticized for a.) requiring power to function and b.) demanding that users hold down a key to disconnect the tablet from the hinge.

Even if it doesn’t go the way of a flip book, we would at least like to see the Surface Book 2 adopt a locking apparatus that doesn’t rely as much on gimmicky software implementations as it does getting the job done with ease and reliability.

surface book 2

The Surface Pen could use some updates, too

We need more power

At the very least, we need a device that can handle the latest Windows 10 Creators Update, unlike the Atom-based 2-in-1 laptops of just a few years ago. So it would make sense, given the conjectured release frame, to refresh the Surface Book with Intel's newest Kaby Lake processors, though we could even see a “Coffee Lake”-based system.

The Kaby Lake architecture supports up to quad-core processors as the default configuration with a thermal envelope of up to 95 Watts (W), meaning it shouldn't be a battery hog even with increased performance. What’s more, Kaby Lake offers native support of the faster USB 3.1 Type-C and Thunderbolt 3 specifications in addition to CPU/GPU performance enhancements.

That said, the Surface Book 2 will need better battery support overall, as the original provides only 4 hours of activity in the Clipboard and only 8 hours of juice in the base (based on our tests). Customers eager to use the Clipboard on its own would no doubt be disappointed by the current battery’s inept sustenance while consuming 4K video.

An improved battery would also be needed to support a built-in recharge dock for the Surface Pen. If a patent filing from October is to be believed, Microsoft may have an improved Surface Pen loop in the works that would not only holster the Surface Pen itself, but simultaneously charge it via the USB port on supported Surface devices.

More power might also be needed for an updated, discrete GPU option, too. As previously stated, the current model has an option for a Nvidia GeForce graphics chip based on the Maxwell architecture, which has a thermal envelope of up to 75W.

If Microsoft were to offer, say, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics chip, the power wattage requirements wouldn’t skyrocket and DirectX 12 support would assuredly be in the cards. This would fare well with gamers looking to take advantage of the latest API on their rotating laptop screen.

What would make the Surface Book 2 really shine is if it were to be VR-ready. It’s not too far-fetched, either, considering the company has said that its own “Mixed Reality” headsets will be available by Christmas, and we know that at least one of these will sport substantially lower PC system requirements than an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.

surface book 2

But we have no doubt that SB2 will be just as photogenic

A race to beat its new rivals?

Despite a good deal of talk about when the Surface Book 2 will be released and what it will contain, there were a handful of reports (albeit with dodgy reliability) speculating that the sequel to Microsoft’s first notebook was supposed to come out last summer alongside the Anniversary Update.

Of course, that never happened and a Surface Book 2 didn’t arrive in time to beat Apple’s late 2016 MacBook Pro to market, much less the next one. Especially considering the increasingly high demand for Macs as opposed to PCs, Microsoft’s next goal should be to get the Surface Book 2 out before next year’s round of MacBooks.

That's it for now. There are probably a few easter eggs hiding in the Windows 10 Creators Update that hint at a Surface Book 2, but if they exist, no one has found them yet. As such, it may be a while before we see Microsoft’s next convertible laptop in the flesh.

While we may still see a spring release for Surface Book 2, all bets are off on that being remotely certain. Instead, we would be more keen to bank on a late 2017 launch to correlate with the Fall Creators Update.

Joe Osborne and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article