Microsoft’s AI PCs Focus On Business-First Applications With Copilot

By Anshel Sag, Patrick Moorhead - May 7, 2024

It seems like all the vendors in the PC space are talking about their AI PC offerings, while Microsoft has talked extensively about its AI-driven Copilot—yet we never got to see Microsoft’s own take on the AI PC until now. During a Surface and Copilot virtual event at the end of March, Microsoft announced two new Surface PCs powered by Intel’s latest Meteor Lake Intel Core Ultra processors. Microsoft’s event focused on the power of Copilot for business and launched two new Surface PCs specifically designed to address the needs of business users. Microsoft also talked about enabling Copilot across any kind of a PC with new Windows 365 software, as well as software-based Windows 365 Cloud PCs.

Surface For Business

Surface for Business is a new product line from Microsoft that takes the company’s Surface line of prosumer products—which it was already selling into the enterprise—and makes a clear delineation between consumer and business models. At launch, Microsoft naturally led with its first AI PCs, talking about the new Intel Core Ultra with the latest CPU, GPU and, for the first time in an Intel processor, an integrated NPU. The NPU enables efficient AI-accelerated applications and is a big part of Intel’s push for its newly expanded AI PC acceleration program. Microsoft says that the new Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 are engineered to work seamlessly with Copilot and Windows 11 Pro.

Taking A Security-First Approach

Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 for Business also take a security-first approach to the PC with what Microsoft likes to call “zero trust chip-to-cloud security.” This includes near-field communications capabilities for secure multifactor authentication on Surface Pro 10 for Business and optional smart card readers for businesses and government applications on Surface Laptop 6 for Business. Microsoft also introduced a new Windows Hello Enhanced Sign-in Security feature. This new tier of Windows Hello adds an extra layer of protection by using specialized hardware and software to isolate authentication data.

Microsoft also enables granular USB-C disablement, including authorized or unauthorized docks. The company has also begun to rewrite key elements of its firmware using RUST to help further reduce attack surface. Microsoft is even deploying a secure supply chain for delivery, which is a valid concern for some government and defense customers.

New And Improved Features

The Surface Laptop 6 for Business comes in 13.5-inch and 15-inch display configurations, while the Surface Pro 10 for Business only comes in a 13-inch size. On these models, Microsoft implemented a new anti-reflective technology that reduces reflection by up to 50% while still using Microsoft’s 3:2 aspect ratio PixelSense touchscreens. Interestingly, neither the Surface Pro 10 nor the Surface Laptop 6 for Business ship with the latest Wi-Fi 7, but instead ship with Wi-Fi 6E. It’s a bit difficult to understand this decision considering that these systems are expected to have more longevity than a consumer PC, but it’s also possible that Wi-Fi 7 won’t be realized in enterprise infrastructure for years.

As for cameras, the Surface Pro 10 for Business for the first time features a 114-degree ultrawide 1440P Surface Studio Camera, while the Surface Laptop 6 for Business comes with a 1080P Surface Studio Camera. Both of these come with AI-accelerated Windows Studio Effects. These are the same four Windows Studio Effects—background blur, eye contact, auto framing and voice focus—that have become popular across previous Surface and Windows devices. Both systems also feature Microsoft’s new Copilot button for launching Microsoft’s many AI capabilities.

Repairability And Sustainability

Like many of its OEM partners, Microsoft is also approaching repairability and sustainability differently with this new generation of Surface devices. Microsoft has built QR codes into the product internals that link to a detailed service guide and include visual guidelines to help identify what types of fasteners are needed for replaceable components on the Surface Pro 10. Microsoft also says that the Surface Pro 10’s enclosure is made of 72% recycled content, including 100% recycled aluminum alloy and 100% recycled rare earth metals. The Surface Laptop 6 for Business claims 25.8% recycled content in its enclosure, but with the same materials percentages. On its website, Microsoft also provides a detailed list of which components are user-replaceable, including the SSD, battery, motherboard and many other parts of the system.

The Surface Laptop 6 for Business’ repairability on display
Microsoft

Pricing And Availability

The Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 for Business start at $1,199 with an Intel Core Ultra 135U and 8GB of RAM. That said, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend running a Windows 11 PC with AI workloads on only 8GB of RAM. In fact, I would like to see that memory configuration go away, especially considering how cheap GDDR5 RAM is now. Another thing to note is that Microsoft offers a one-year warranty for both products; unless the company offers a separate service plan with extended warranty, these devices should probably come with a longer warranty, possibly for a slightly higher price. In my opinion, business-grade products should be built to last and should carry warranties that support that.

Windows 365 And CoPilot

Beyond these new devices, Microsoft is addressing enterprise needs with secure software products. Empowered through the new Windows app (currently in preview), companies including Vodafone and Zurich Insurance are enabling their employees to securely access Windows from any computer. This is possible thanks to a piece of software called Windows 365 Cloud PC, which resides within the application, and through AI-driven cloud management using Microsoft Untune. Untune includes security features such as Windows Autopatch, which ensures that any potential vulnerabilities are patched as quickly as possible, keeping those virtual machines as secure as possible. At the launch event, Microsoft used the big marketing data and analytics consultancy Kantar as an example of a company that moved from on-prem to cloud management using Windows 11 Enterprise, Windows 365 Cloud PCs and Surface devices running Copilot.

Wrapping Up

Microsoft’s new line of Surface for Business laptops seems to represent a new approach for Microsoft with the Surface line of products. These devices feature Intel’s latest Core Ultra processors with the newly integrated NPU for efficient AI processing and the new Copilot button right on the keyboard deck. This allows Microsoft to lead the industry into the AI PC era with some of the first AI PCs for business, following the slew announced at MWC. Microsoft’s security-first approach is a solid one, and I believe that the features and functionality of these products are very appealing to businesses, especially at a starting price of $1,199—not necessarily cheap, but still accessible.

Microsoft is also addressing accessibility by making its adaptive accessories available for business with these new products. It is interesting to see Microsoft create a business-focused part of the Surface lineup, and I want to see how the company continues to expand its lineup of AI PC offerings through the rest of the year. Microsoft’s take on the AI PC has finally come to fruition, and I can’t wait to find out what else the company shows us at its Build event in May.

Anshel Sag
VP & Principal Analyst| Website| + posts

Anshel Sag is Moor Insights & Strategy’s in-house millennial with over 15 years of experience in the IT industry. Anshel has had extensive experience working with consumers and enterprises while interfacing with both B2B and B2C relationships, gaining empathy and understanding of what users really want. Some of his earliest experience goes back as far as his childhood when he started PC gaming at the ripe of old age of 5 while building his first PC at 11 and learning his first programming languages at 13.

Patrick Moorhead
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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.