Although Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 is more than 18 months old, a major upgrade probably isn’t happening soon. Panos Panay, Microsoft’s head of Surface devices, recently told CNET that the company won’t launch a fifth-generation Surface model unless “it’s meaningful and the change is right,” adding that he’s looking for an “experiential change,” such as significantly better battery life or a lower weight.
On some level, this could just be a branding issue. Intel has been slowing the pace of new PC processors lately, and the latest generation is only a minor improvement over what’s inside the Surface Pro 4. It’d be tough to extract a major redesign from those improvements, so even if Microsoft refreshes the Pro 4’s processor—as rumored ahead of a May 23 press event in Shanghai—perhaps the name won’t change. But with the Surface business in decline from its $1 billion-per-quarter highs, Microsoft may have to lean on the recently announced Surface laptop for rejuvenation.