Microsoft New Tool for Surface Pro to be the Ultimate Mobile Computer

By Xyla Joelle L. Fernandez

Dec 09, 2016 10:09 AM EST

The Surface Pro is a very good mobile computer: it's light, thin, fast, and versatile. Microsoft has also addressed many of the bugs that were present when we reviewed it at launch over a year ago, making it a reliable machine as well. We've used it everywhere from the train to the office to my couch.

While the Surface Pro is very good right now, it could be great with just a couple additions: longer battery life and integrated cellular connectivity, whether that's LTE, 5G, or beyond. Mobile professionals will tell you that a perfect mobile computer can last all day away from an outlet and can get connected to the internet no matter where it is, without having to rely on Wi-Fi access or using a hotspot from another device.

Microsoft dropped the news that it will soon enable the full Windows 10 operating system and all of its legacy apps to run on ARM-based processors essentially the same chips that are in your phone. ARM processors offer a different set of benefits compared to the x86 Intel chips every Windows laptop uses now - most notably better power efficiency and integrated cellular connectivity.

A Surface Pro with an ARM processor could potentially alleviate my two major issues with the current product: its battery life and lack of cellular connectivity. ARM-based tablets such as the iPad or Google Pixel C can go days between charges; I'm lucky to get through half a day with my Surface Pro. It'd be wonderful if my Surface Pro could do the same as those other tablets while still giving me a full Windows 10 experience.

The Surface Pro as Microsoft's "ultra mobile" option would make a ton of sense given that Microsoft now has an ultra-powerful computer in its lineup with the Surface Book. I could easily envision a product lineup split between the Surface Pro for mobile professionals running on ARM processors and the Surface Book for those with more powerful needs running on Intel's latest chips.

Microsoft has released Surface computers with integrated LTE in the past, most recently the Surface 3 that was available from Verizon in the US. But the Surface 3 was distinctly not pro: it had a smaller display than the Surface Pro 3 and ran on Intel's weaksauce Atom processors that provided a pretty lousy experience doing anything intensive.

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