Microsoft Monday: New Surface Pro And Pen, Xbox Game Pass, Mixer Game Broadcasting Service – Forbes

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at the 2016 Microsoft Annual Shareholders meeting at the Meydenbauer Center in November, 2016 (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Microsoft Monday is a weekly column that focuses on updates in regards to the Redmond giant. This week, Microsoft Monday includes details about the new Surface Pro, the new Surface Pen, the Bing Business Bot Service, the Windows 10 China Government Edition, the Whiteboard app for Windows 10, Bill Gates’ summer reading list, the Xbox Game Pass subscription service, the Microsoft Mixer live-streaming gaming service and much more!

Microsoft Announces A New Surface Pro

Last week, Microsoft announced the fifth-generation detachable PC known as the Surface Pro at a hardware event in Shanghai, China. This device is highly anticipated because it has been over sixteen months since Microsoft launched a new Surface. Microsoft is not referring to the Surface Pro as a “tablet” anymore as the tagline for the device is now: “the most versatile laptop.”

The new Surface Pro has a bright 12.3-inch PixelSense display. And this is Microsoft’s lightest Surface Pro ever as it starts at 1.7 pounds and it is 8.5mm thin. Plus the new Surface Pro has a “next generation hinge” that can make the device nearly flat as part of a “Studio Mode” feature.

And the new Surface Pro has the Intel 7th Generation Core processor known as Kaby Lake and Intel Iris Plus graphics inside. This helps power the Pixel display and 2736 x 1824 resolution (267 ppi) — giving it a 3:2 aspect ratio. The new Surface Pro also has improved battery life and graphics performance. Plus there are improved thermals to keep the processor cool without any fans. In terms of sound, the new Surface Pro has Omnisonic speakers with Dolby Audio Premium support.

Microsoft said the new Surface Pro has a battery life of 13.5 hours based on local video playback. Plus the Surface Pro has a built-in Qualcomm 4G LTE modem so you can connect to the Internet without a Wi-Fi connection. The front-facing camera on the new Surface Pro is 1080p, which means video calls and selfies will be sharper than previous models.

The new Surface Pro will be available in multiple variations. You can buy it with 128GB, 256GB or 512GB of internal storage. And it will have 4GB, 8GB or 16GB RAM options. The new Surface Pro is now available for pre-order with a starting price of $799. And it will go on sale on June 15th in these markets: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, U.K., and U.S.

New Surface Pen

Microsoft also launched a new generation of the Surface Pen. The sensitivity of the Surface Pen has been increased to 4,096 pressure levels and tilt functionality has been added. And Microsoft also added a deeper system tilt of up to 165 degrees, which will make using Microsoft Ink easier. Plus the Surface Pen has only 21 milliseconds of latency. The Surface Pen is available in the following colors: Platinum, Burgundy, Cobalt Blue and Black.

The Surface Pen also has a PixelSense Accelerator, which is custom silicon that enhances the colors on the 12.3-inch PixelSense display on the Surface Pro. In comparison to the previous Surface Pen, the new version is over two times more accurate and four times more pressure sensitive. The new Surface Pen will also be backward compatible with earlier Surface devices. “We did a huge step with the pen, a massive step,” said Surface co-inventor Stevie Bathiche via The Verge. “I’m so pumped about this.” Microsoft also told The Verge that the new Surface Pen is also “twice as responsive as the Apple Pencil.”

Unfortunately, the Surface Pen does not come included with the Surface Pro. The new Surface Pen is sold separately for $99.

New Type Covers With Alcantara Fabric

Microsoft also announced new Type Covers, which are built with Alcantara just like what is used on the Surface Laptop. The new platinum, burgundy and cobalt blue Surface Pro Type Covers will be sold separately for $159. And a regular black Type Cover without the Alcantara fabric will be available for $129.

Microsoft Flow For OneDrive For Business Has Been Released

About a year ago, Microsoft released Flow — which is a tool that automates business workflows just like IFTTT. Microsoft Flow launched in November as part of Office 365 followed by iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile versions. Microsoft Flow for OneDrive For Business has officially launched.

Users will now be able to launch Flow directly from OneDrive for First Release customers. “Microsoft Flow allows you to create automated workflows between your favorite apps and services to get notifications, synchronize files, collect data and more. You can turn repetitive tasks into multistep workflows. You can even make decisions in your workflow, like running an action only when specific conditions are met,” said Microsoft in a blog post.

Now Office 365 admins will be able to sign into Flow without requiring additional licenses and rules can be set up to determine how data can flow between OneDrive, Yammer, Outlook and many other services. Microsoft Flow integration will be available for customers in the First Release program over the month of May.

Microsoft Announces The Bing Business Bot Service

Microsoft has announced a new service that helps businesses quickly create a FAQ bot that customers can chat with through Bing search results. The Bing Business Bot asks business owners some questions about their business like the hours, handicap accessibility information and reservation policies. From there, the Bing Business Bot creates a bot that is based on the answers. And if the bot does not know how to answer the question, then it will ask the restaurant owner.

Microsoft Releases Windows 10 China Government Edition

At a hardware event in Shanghai last week, Microsoft announced the Windows 10 China Government Edition. This version of Windows 10 has a number of concessions, specifically government officials can use their own encryption, control updates, remove certain apps and manage the telemetry. Microsoft Windows was originally banned by the Chinese government in 2014 following the NSA revelations.

Microsoft spent about two years working with the Chinese government to prepare its rollout. The custom version of Windows 10 will be used by the Chinese government and state-owned entities. And Lenovo will be one of the first OEMs to build hardware with Windows 10 China Government Edition. The three government customers that are the first to pilot Windows 10 China Government Edition is the national level with China Customs, the regional level with the City of Shanghai (EITC) and the state-owned enterprise with Westone Information Technology.

“The Windows 10 China Government Edition is based on Windows 10 Enterprise Edition, which already includes many of the security, identity, deployment, and manageability features governments and enterprises need.  The China Government Edition will use these manageability features to remove features that are not needed by Chinese government employees like OneDrive, to manage all telemetry and updates, and to enable the government to use its own encryption algorithms within its computer systems,” said Microsoft’s EVP of the Windows and Devices Group Terry Myerson in a blog post.

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