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August 12, 2017

Microsoft Surface Book 2 news: It’s time for an update, but Redmond remains silent

by John_A

Microsoft hasn’t released much Microsoft Surface Book 2 news yet, but more information is on the way this fall. For now, here’s what we know and what the rumors say about the successor to Microsoft’s latest 2-in-1 laptop.

The Surface Book 2…was actually the Surface Laptop

In spring 2017 a flurry of rumors about the Surface Book 2 hit the internet windmill. They said, among other things, that the Book 2 would have a more traditional clamshell hinge, would be a traditional laptop instead of a hybrid, and would be released very soon.

That didn’t happen. Those rumors described another product, the Surface Laptop, which had all those qualities and was positioned to appeal to customers who preferred a true laptop instead of a hybrid. Our review of the Surface Laptop found it’s a beautiful system, but the decision to ditch features that make Surface unique makes the system less remarkable than its peers.

However, the Surface Laptop’s existence does tell us a bit of what the Surface Book will continue to be. It seems likely the Microsoft Surface Book 2 will retain a form similar to the current model, since ditching its tablet features would make it redundant with the Surface laptop.

An updated hinge seems likely

Will the hinge change for the Book 2? The rumors say yes. Remember that the updated version of the Microsoft Surface Book, released October 2016, came with the same hinge but a reduced gap. People weren’t big fans of the gap that the original hinge created, which increased thickness and was a dust trap. A redesigned hinge is likely for the Book 2.

Other rumors state that the Book 2 may not be detachable, either. It is likely to still be a 2-in-1, but with a reversible screen. This would be an easy way to fix some of the complaints that the original Surface Book was unwieldy when it came to detaching the touchscreen.

Coffee Lake CPUs

Here is where things get interesting: Some of the latest rumors say that the Book 2 will be using the Intel Coffee Lake CPU, also known as 8th gen Intel Core.

The latest version of the Book uses Kaby Lake, so it appears that Microsoft may want to wait for Coffee Lake for the second generation. We’ll know more about Coffee Lake by the end of August 2017.

If this information is correct — and every day we go by without a Surface announcement makes it seem more likely — then it gives reason to think the Surface Book 2 won’t show up until late in the holiday 2017 buying season, at the soonest.

Why? Intel processor releases tend to be gradual. It takes months for them to become common after the initial roll-out, and if Microsoft were to release a Surface Book 2 with 8th gen Core, the company would need a large enough supply of chips to meet at least part of demand.

Practically speaking, that makes a release shortly after the arrival of 8th gen Core unlikely. It’s not impossible, as Microsoft could specifically team up with Intel to make the Surface Book 2 one of the first 2-in-1s with its new processor. However, we’ve not heard any rumors to that effect yet, and Microsoft hasn’t announced a press event near Intel’s official 8th gen Core press event, which happens August 21.

Release date is 2017-2018

There are two possibilities for a Surface Book 2 release window. First, Microsoft announces it in the fall at a Fall Creators Update conference, and releases it in time for the holidays. Second, Microsoft waits to announce the Book 2 and plans for an early 2018 release.

Currently we suspect the second option, due to the Coffee Lake reports and lack of production rumors. However, 2017 is still very much a possibility.

This is heavily based on speculation, however. Microsoft itself has said nothing about the Surface Book 2. We don’t think that silence indicates a lack of care for it, but simply that the company is playing its cards close to its chest.

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