What to expect from Microsoft's special Surface and AI event on September 21

 AI-generated Microsoft event graphic
AI-generated Microsoft event graphic

Microsoft is hosting a special event in New York City on September 21 and remains tight-lipped about what we’ll see, but my sources have been able to shed some light on what exactly Microsoft is planning to talk about.

I do my best to set expectations around what the company might discuss at these special events every year, just as I did with the previous Surface event in fall 2022. The rundown for this year's main highlights will be new Surface hardware and a focus on the AI capabilities coming to Windows 11 and Surface alike.

So, with all that in mind, here's the low-down on everything I hear will be announced during the event, with spoilers ahead!

Windows 11, Microsoft 365, and AI

Windows AI Copilot
Windows AI Copilot

It's been the year's theme for Microsoft, so you can expect to hear more about its artificial intelligence plans for Windows 11 and Microsoft 365. I'm told a specific highlight will be third-party plugins launching in preview for Windows Copilot, which will enhance the AI's capabilities as a 'Windows assistant.' The company already has third-party developers lined up, including Mem, Adobe, and Spotify, some of which will be demonstrated.

Third-party plugins will be the lifeblood of the Windows Copilot. Without it, the assistant is nothing more than a smart web searching interface, so the company will spend time detailing how this new plugin system will empower users. I suspect we'll also get an overview of the AI-driven Windows 11 version 23H2 update that's expected to start rolling out in the next handful of weeks.

I hear that Microsoft 365 Copilot will get some airtime during the event too, though I'm unsure what exactly will be highlighted. I know that Microsoft plans to launch the assistant for consumers next year, so perhaps that will be made official on the day.

I understand that Microsoft will talk about how artificial intelligence in Windows can be enhanced with dedicated hardware, showcasing how specific AI workloads can be improved using an NPU (neural processing unit.)  This is where the Surface portion of the event will likely take center stage. I know the company has been working on new AI features for Photos, Paint, and Snipping Tool, which may officially be unveiled during the event as well.

On the hardware front, Microsoft will be shipping new Surface PCs this fall. Last year, Microsoft's fall event included the Surface Pro 9, Surface Laptop 5, and Surface Studio 2+, which primarily featured spec bumps and updated internal designs that enhanced repairability. This fall, you can expect much of the same for other products in the Surface portfolio.

Here are all the devices I'm told are expected to launch this fall, and what I hear is new with them:

Surface Laptop Studio 2

Microsoft Laptop Studio on a colored background
Microsoft Laptop Studio on a colored background

The star of the show this fall will be Microsoft’s new Surface Laptop Studio 2, which will feature an updated 13th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, up to 64GB RAM for the first time in a Surface product, and dedicated graphics in the form of NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4050 and 4060 laptop GPUs. I’m also told the device will feature a dedicated NPU/VPU to power many of the new AI experiences unveiled during the event.

Curiously, I’m told Microsoft will not be selling a variant of the Surface Laptop Studio 2 with an Intel Core i5 processor, meaning the entry-level SKU will start out of the gate with an Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD storage, and Intel Iris Xe graphics. This means the starting price of the Surface Laptop Studio 2 will be higher than its predecessor, but you will get a better CPU and more storage for the money.

On the outside, my sources say the overall design remains the same but with an expanded selection of ports, including one USB-A port and a microSD card reader in addition to the already present dual Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports. I also hear the device will ship with an updated haptic touchpad with extended granular feedback levels.

Regarding the display, I’m told the Laptop Studio 2 will feature an updated display that's brighter with support for HDR content. Unfortunately, the company is not planning to introduce a larger size as some had hoped, meaning 14.4-inches will remain the only display size available for the Surface Laptop Studio 2.

Surface Laptop Go 3

Surface Laptop Go
Surface Laptop Go

Microsoft is also planning to ship a refreshed Surface Laptop Go 3, codenamed Gulliver, which will feature an identical design to its predecessor but with 12th Gen Intel Core i5 processors. I hear the 4GB model has been scrapped, meaning the entry-level config will start with 8GB RAM for the first time, but this will come at an increased starting price.

I also heard that Microsoft plans to offer the Surface Laptop Go 3 with 16GB RAM for the first time in its consumer store. Previously, the Surface Laptop Go with 16GB RAM was exclusive to Microsoft’s commercial channels. Regarding how this device fits in with the AI theme, I’m told the company will highlight its ability to utilize Voice Clarity capabilities, one of the AI features part of Windows Studio Effects.

Surface Go 4

Surface Go back
Surface Go back

Next, I hear Microsoft will introduce an updated Surface Go with a newer Intel N200 processor and a redesigned internal layout that makes the product more repairable. Microsoft originally intended to ship a new Surface Go with ARM this fall, but my sources say the product has been postponed.

Like the Surface Laptop Go 3, I hear Microsoft has scrapped the 4GB RAM variant of the new Surface Go, meaning the entry-level model will ship with 8GB RAM out of the gate. This also means the starting price will likely be increasing.

On the outside, the Surface Go 4 will look the same as its predecessor, and I’m told the device will only be sold to commercial customers, just like the Surface Pro 7+ was when it was first announced in 2021. I hear the Surface Go 4 will feature Voice Clarity AI capabilities for the first time.

New Surface Hub 2S

Surface Hub 2S
Surface Hub 2S

Announced earlier this year, Microsoft will begin shipping its new Surface Hub 2S this fall, pre-loaded with a new OS dubbed 'Teams Rooms on Windows.' The new Hub will feature an upgraded 11th Gen Intel Core i5-11300H, providing a massive performance jump over the 8th Gen processor found in the current Surface Hub 2S.

Additionally, I hear the new Surface Hub 2S will finally enable rotation, allowing the screen to be used in either landscape or portrait mode as was initially advertised in 2018. The new Hub 2S will be sold as a complete package and as a standalone compute cartridge for customers who may want to upgrade their existing Surface Hub 2S devices instead.

I'm not entirely sure if this device will get any airtime during the event as it's an enterprise-only product, but I do know it's supposed to start shipping this fall. So maybe it'll be there.

No Surface Pro 10 or Surface Laptop 6

Curiously, I'm told there are no plans to ship a new Surface Laptop or Surface Pro this fall. So, if you've been holding out for those, I wouldn't hold your breath. I hear Microsoft is saving those for the bigger Windows vNext push next year, but that's a story later.

We also won't see a new Surface Duo or Surface Studio AIO, which is unsurprising.

Overall, the hardware announcements will be relatively minor this year, save for the Surface Laptop Studio 2, which is shaping up to be a little more significant. It's good to see Microsoft removing the 4GB RAM models from its lineup, but this will increase the starting price for all the base configurations.

Windows 12?

Windows 12 Concept
Windows 12 Concept

I've seen a few people theorize that Microsoft may take this event as an opportunity to tease the next major version of the Windows platform, which we know is currently in development under the codename 'Hudson Valley' and is expected to launch next year. My sources say this is unlikely. While the next version of Windows is said to be much more AI-centric, I think it's still too early to take the wraps off those plans currently.

That doesn't mean Microsoft can't tease that something more is coming soon, but I would not count on it. I think it wants to focus on Windows 11 23H2 (read our review of Windows 11 2023 Update) and the new Surface PCs launching this fall.

So that's everything I'm hearing we will and won't see at the special event in New York City. Of course, Microsoft may have some surprises up its sleeve, so you'll have to tune into our event live blog on the day to find out the news as it happens. Windows Central will be on the ground on September 21, so don't miss it!