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Two new enterprise-focused Microsoft Surface devices unveiled by the tech giant mark its first major push into the rapidly-accelerating AI PC market.

The Surface Pro 10 for Business and Surface Pro 6 are the latest entries to Microsoft’s Surface lineup, described as “AI-powered PCs built for a new era of work”.

Microsoft described the two laptops as its first Surface AI PCs built exclusively for businesses, with shipping to commercial customers starting from April 9.

Neither laptop’s design will change dramatically, and will look largely the same to their previous versions, with the most significant changes coming under the hood.

Both will feature Intel’s latest Core Ultra processors, the new Copilot key, and a neural processing unit (NPU) to accelerate AI workloads.

Microsoft claimed the new Intel platform will help extend battery life on the devices, promising up to 19 hours of battery life on the Surface Pro 10 for Business.

The company has typically lagged behind the rest of the PC market in adopting the latest Intel chips, but with the Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6, both ‘for Business’, it will be one of the first to ship Intel’s cutting-edge processors.

The Surface Pro 10 for Business will offer customers either the Core Ultra 5 135U or the Core Ultra 7 165U, and a choice from 8GB up to 64GB of RAM.

Microsoft announced it will ship the Surface Pro 10 for Business with an NFC reader so organisations can easily incorporate devices like YubiKey NFC security keys for authentication.

The company also added it would be bringing 5G to the device, the first time Microsoft has done so on an Intel platform.

The device does have a minor hardware tweak, now including two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, as well as Microsoft’s Surface Connect port

The base model will ship with a 256GB Gen4 SSD at $1,199.

With the addition of neural processor units (NPUs) and specific buttons to launch Microsoft Copilot, AI is going to be firmly in the hands of the average worker from now on. And a new range of Surface devices with both features is a clear sign of that trend in progress.

Demand for generative AI has led us to this point and no matter how fearful regulators are of its misuse or wider impact, the fact that it is now changing the way we manufacture and use hardware highlights its inevitable integration into our lives and businesses.

Microsoft’s work with generative AI is already bearing fruit as the company has seemingly positioned itself front and centre of this race. The tech giant’s close relationship with OpenAI has enabled it to capitalise on the generative AI boom sparked by the launch of ChatGPT in late 2022.

Surface devices have been fitted with NPUs since 2019 and the benefits of these AI chips become more impressive with each year. But with Copilot we have a very visual representation of those capabilities.

Manufacturers like Dell and Lenovo have already integrated Copilot buttons into their business-centric hardware and more will likely follow throughout this year and the next.

The era of AI PCs is upon us

A wave of computers designed with AI in mind are expected to flood the market in 2024, with Canalys estimating the new class of device will spur total PC shipments in 2024.

The consultancy predicted AI PCs will spark renewed growth in the market, with PC shipments expected to reach 267 million units in 2024, an 8% increase on 2023.

Canalys also predicted that by 2027, 60% of PCs will be ‘AI-capable’, arguing that the generative AI explosion will precipitate a significant transformation in terms of both hardware and software.

Similar analysis from Gartner said AI PC shipments will surge in 2024, and will account for nearly 25% of all PCs by the end of the year. It predicted 54.5 million AI PCs will be shipped when 2024 draws to a close.

This market acceleration has been building for several months now. In late 2023, Intel chief executive Pal Gelsinger declared AI PCs will be the “star of the show” in 2024 and beyond.

Source: ITPro   By: Bobby Hellard

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