Microsoft's new Surface Studio and Win10 updates target creative users

The Surface Book also gets a major performance and battery boost

panos panay surface studio 2016
Panos Panay, Microsoft's Corporate Vice President of Surface Computing, shows off the new Surface Studio at the company's press event in New York City on October 26, 2016. Credit: Blair Hanley Frank

Microsoft today revealed new Windows features and new hardware, all squarely aimed at the high-endmarket long associated with Apple.

Surface Studio takes a fresh look at the desktop PC

There were many rumors about a forthcoming all-in-one Surface desktop PC, and Microsoft showed them to be true. The Surface Studio is an all-in-one PC with an ultrathin, 28-inch, 4.5K touchscreen. The screen is mounted on a pair of hinges that let it sit up vertically like a traditional desktop computer, and lower down to a drafting position, where the display is only inclined to the desk by 20 degrees.

surface studio cutaway Blair Hanley Frank

A special version of the Surface Studio with a clear case reveals some of the device's inner workings.

The Surface Studio's base is what holds the computer's brains. The base model features a quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, 1TB of storage, 8GB of RAM, and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX965M GPU with 2GB of VRAM. Buyers can scale up it to a quad-core Intel Core i7 CPU, 2TB of storage, 32GB of RAM, and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX980M GPU with 4GB of VRAM.

Buying a Surface Studio will set you back quite a bit. The base model costs $3,000, and the top-of-the-line Studio costs $4,200.

Although out of reach for most buyers, it's an opportunity for Microsoft to show off what a PC can do.

panos panay writing surface studio Blair Hanley Frank

Panos Panay, Microsoft's corporate vice president of Surface Computing, writes on the new Surface Studio.

Most of all, it seems like a direct attack on Apple's desktop offerings, with its focus on creative output. Macs have been the computers of choice for many creative professionals, but it's clear that Microsoft is aggressively going after that market with this launch, trying to capitalize on Apple's aging product lines.

What will be interesting to see is how use of the touchscreen ages. One of the big issues with touchscreen desktops is that users often keep large monitors at arm's length, which means that touching the screen for even a short period of time can get tiring very quickly, and even risk repetitive strain injuries. The Studio's drafting configuration, which brings the screen close to the surface of the table, may help alleviate some of this problem, but it'll take long-term testing to prove that out.

Windows 10's Creators Update pushes creativity for everyone

While the Surface Studio emphasizes creative output of PCs, the Windows 10 Creators Update is supposed to bring creation capabilities to the masses.  The update will be available this spring for Windows 10 users everywhere and will bring many new capabilities.

surfacepro4 paintui Microsoft

The new Paint 3D app lets users create and manipulate 3D models.

One of the major emphases of the new release is a focus on creating 3D content. Microsoft Paint is getting a refresh that adds support for creating and manipulating 3D models. Those models can be shared with the world using Microsoft's new Remix 3D community, which will host models shared from Paint 3D, Minecraft, and Trimble's SketchUp.

On top of that, the Creators Update also includes some new sharing features that are designed to make it easier for people to share content with people close to them. Portraits of users' close friends will show up in the Windows taskbar. Dragging files onto those portraits will open up a dialog that lets users quickly share those files.

Surface Book gets a turbocharged upgrade

Microsoft also announced a power boost to its Microsoft's Surface Book laptop/tablet hybrid. The new Surface Book with Performance Base gets 16 hours of battery life, to help with what Microsoft Corporate Vice President Panos Panay said was a common request from users.

panos panay surface book 2016 Blair Hanley Frank

Microsoft's Panay demonstrates the new Surface Book.

The basic high-performance Surface Book sports 256GB of solid-state storage, an Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M GPU with 2GB of VRAM. Microsoft also offers upgraded models of the Surface Book with up to 16GB of RAM and up to 1TB of SSD.

That performance comes with a price tag starting at $2,400. People who want the absolute top of the line Surface Book must pay $3,300 for the privilege.

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