Devices ‘more powerful and customisable’.
Microsoft’s announcement of the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 bring with it ‘improved processing power, longer battery life, better display and camera resolution’, as well as a kickstand with two angles for lap or desk balancing.
Microsoft also claim that enhancements in Windows RT 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Pro also make the tablets more powerful and customizable.
The Surface 2, replacing the Surface RT, is powered by an NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor, which should make apps run faster and smoother and increase the battery life to up to 10 hours for video playback. The tablet is now capable of 108-p video, too, with the 10.6-inch full HD display. The USB port has also been upgraded to USB 3.0.
Camera resolution has increased, with a 3.5-megapixel front camera and 5-megapixel rear camera, both capable of capturing 1080p video and featuring improved low-light performance. The tablet is also marginally thinner and lighter than its predecessor, at 0.35 inches (9mm) thick and 1.49 lbs (676g).
The Surface 2 will ship with Windows RT 8.1, bringing improvements in areas such as personalisation, search, multitasking, built-in apps, the Windows Store experience and connectivity to cloud-based storage.
The new Xbox Music allows users to stream songs for free, and users can also download an updated Video app and games such as "Halo: Spartan Assault" from the Windows Store. Surface 2 is comes pre-loaded with Microsoft Office 2013 RT and is available in 32GB and 64GB configurations, starting at £359.
The Surface Pro 2 is the successor to the Surface Pro and is powered by a fourth-generation Intel Core i5 processor which, combined with other improvements, delivers "increased performance and up to 60 percent longer battery life than Surface Pro," according to Microsoft.
Starting at £719, the Surface Pro 2 will be offered in 64GB and 128GB configurations with 4 GB of RAM and 256GB and 512GB configurations with 8 GB of RAM.
Microsoft released its original Surface tablets last October, but it has suffered from terrible sales, only shipping around a million units in the first three months of 2013. The sales handed Microsoft a measly 2 per cent share of the tablet market in the first quarter, and by the second quarter their tablets had dropped out of IDC’s Top 5.
"Microsoft has been humbled by modest sales of Surface, but it’s not giving up. Microsoft is doubling down on Surface, making needed hardware improvements to appeal to businesses and consumers," said Sarah Rotman Epps, senior analyst at Forrester.
"The first version of Surface, especially RT, couldn’t compete with Apple’s products. Surface 2 is better positioned to compete with iPad, and Surface Pro 2 attempts to take on MacBook Air as well as competition from Lenovo, Samsung, and HP."
Microsoft said that customers purchasing either device will receive free Skype calling to landlines in more than 60 countries for one year, unlimited Skype WiFi on their Surface 2 or Surface Pro 2 at more than 2 million hotspots worldwide for one year, and 200 GB of free SkyDrive storage for two years.
The company also has six new accessories, including three new types of cover, a docking station for the Surface Pro that lets users connect their tablet to an external monitor, Ethernet, speakers or a power supply, a car charger with a USB port, and a special-edition Arc Touch Mouse that has been updated to match the look of Surface.
Customers can pre-order the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 from 13.00 BST today, either online at http://www.MicrosoftStore.com, in Microsoft Stores, or from select retailers including John Lewis. The device will become available on 22 October.
"The original Microsoft Surface was well received by our customers and we’re really excited about the new thinner, lighter and faster devices," said Harry Boughton, junior buyer for tablets and telecoms at John Lewis. "You can be assured that we will be offering our leading two year guarantee at no extra cost when these launch in our stores on the 22nd October".