As successful as Windows is on desktop and laptop, Microsoft has struggled to make serious inroads with mobile.  Windows Phone floundered for a long time, and third-party Windows tablets aren’t as popular as products running iOS or Android.

Still, Microsoft does have a few bright spots. The Surface line of tablet/laptop hybrids fills an intriguing niche, and the company looked to take its OS to devices of all sizes with a universal Windows strategy.

At a press event this week, Microsoft unveiled the future of Windows on mobile with new Surface and Lumia devices.

Surface Pro 4

After seeing sales success with Surface Pro 3, Microsoft isn’t changing the formula much with Surface Pro 4.

Surface Pro 4 has a slightly larger screen (12.3 inches) and packs more pixels in the display (now 2736 x 1824 pixels, 267 ppi), but still manages to slim down to be a little thinner and lighter than Surface Pro 3.

The new Surface also sees upgrades to the Type Cover and Surface Pen, with the latest Type Cover providing a larger glass trackpad and backlighting, while the new stylus has better pressure sensitivity.

Surface Pro 4 also has access to better processor, memory and storage configurations than Surface Pro 3.  Users can purchase customized Surface Pro 4 models with up to 16GB RAM and/or a 1TB SSD.

After both Apple and Google recently announced iPad and Android devices with hybrid features and a typing cover, Microsoft has to be feeling somewhat vindicated for going after this market.

Against iPad Pro and Pixel C, Surface is the only device running a full desktop operating system. Surface also includes the stylus with the base purchase; Apple Pencil is a separate $99 purchase, and Pixel C doesn’t have an announced stylus.

Surface Pro 4 starts at $899 (without keyboard cover) and will be released on Oct. 26. I wouldn’t be surprised to see even more competitors enter this space.

Surface Book

Just as Microsoft seemed to be betting big on tablets that can act like laptops, they pivot and break out a laptop that can act like a tablet.

Surface Book, what Microsoft is calling the “ultimate laptop,” appears to be the most versatile laptop to date.

At first glance, it looks mostly like a standard laptop.  It’s got a 13.5-inch display, keyboard and trackpad.  That’s about where the normalcy ends.

The hinge on Surface Book, which Microsoft calls a “dynamic fulcrum,” is a sort of coil/accordion design that allows the touchscreen display screen to flex completely back around the rear of the device.  It’s unique, but not the best aspect of Surface Book.

The real killer feature is the ability to completely detach the screen from the keyboard base and hinge for use as a standalone tablet.  Where Surface Pro is a tablet with enhanced typing through the touch cover, Surface Book is a laptop that can instantly be used as a tablet.

Microsoft isn’t compromising with internals, offering fast i5 and i7 Intel processors and a variety of memory and configuration options.  The computer can also use a more powerful discrete graphics card (optional purchase) when connected to the base. Microsoft is going right after Apple with this device, touting Surface Book as twice as fast as MacBook Pro.

Microsoft hopes the versatility and power provided by Surface Book will eliminate the compromises people feel they have to make when choosing between laptops and tablets.

Surface Book starts at $1,499 and will also be released on Oct. 26.

Lumia 950, 950 XL

Still not ready to give up on smartphones, Microsoft announced two new flagship Lumia phones.

Lumia 950 and 950 XL are the new devices Microsoft hopes will begin a new era for Windows Phone.

Both have good specs, with 6 and 8 core Snapdragon processors, respectively.  The new phones also have screens over 5 inches (5.2 inches on the 950 and 5.7 inches on the XL) with a resolution of 2560 × 1440 pixels and 3 GB RAM.

While the specs are about what you’d expect, the real potential of these devices lies in how they work with Windows 10.

First previewed back in May, the Continuum feature makes an appearance with the new Lumias.

With Continuum, the phone acts like a mini computer, capable of connecting to a mouse and keyboard, as well as sending out display to a larger monitor.  When “docked,” the user can run Windows 10 universal apps through the phone, but displayed on the large monitor for a desktop-like experience.

The ability to quickly hook up your mobile device to a larger workstation would be extremely useful to users in certain lines of work, especially those who often work remotely or on the go.

The technology isn’t completely refined yet and will likely evolve as more users and developers get involved with Windows apps, but it’s a clear picture of how the future of mobile devices might look.

Microsoft’s efforts with their new tablets, laptops and phones to push the boundaries of convergence is refreshing.  Don’t be surprised to see several of the best features in their new products reflected in the competition.

This is the opinion of Times Online Project Specialist Andrew Fraser. He’s on Twitter at @andrewfraser.