Microsoft (MSFT +1.2%) had already suggested new Surface models would launch this year, but their arrival dates had remained a question mark.
First-gen Surface sales have underwhelmed, particularly for the ARM-based Surface RT. FY13 (ended in June) Surface sales only amounted to $853M, and Microsoft took a $900M Surface RT inventory charge in the June quarter.
The rumor mill indicates the Surface Pro 2 will have an Intel Haswell CPU, better battery life, an adjustable kickstand, and up to 8GB of RAM. The second-gen RT model will reportedly have a better display (1080p) and improved battery life. Both models are expected to offer new Power Cover (keyboard with built-in battery) and docking station accessories.
But more than any hardware improvements, the consumer reaction to the software improvements delivered by Windows 8.1 could determine whether the new Surface models fare better than their predecessors.
With OEM partners largely turning their backs on Windows RT in the face of weak demand, Microsoft could soon have the RT tablet market mostly to itself.