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Microsoft ups the ante, unveils Surface Book, new smartphones

New York :Centered around the recent rollout of Windows 10 operating system, Microsoft today unveiled a slew of new products, including new smartphones and a ‘Surface Book’, as the technology giant takes global rivals Apple and Google head-on.

Part of the company’s cloud-first mobile-first strategy, Microsoft unveiled two connected devices—HoloLens and Microsoft Band—as well at an event being live streamed from the city.

“Windows 10 has over 110 million users (within 2 months of launch)… We now begin a new chapter of Windows 10 with new devices built of Windows 10 from us and our partners. We built Windows 10 for a new era of more personalised computing,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said.

“We’re moving people from needing to choosing to loving Windows, and these devices promise to fuel even more enthusiasm and opportunity for the entire Windows ecosystem.”

The Surface Book, which will compete with Apple’s Macbook and Google’s Chromebook, will run NVidia’s GeForce graphics processing unit (GPU) with 12 hours of battery life.

To be available from October 26 for USD 1,499 (about Rs 97,700), the laptop includes a detachable, touch-enabled 13.5-inch screen that works with the Surface pen.

Microsoft’s Panos Panay said the device is “2x more powerful” than Apple’s Macbook Pro.

It also launched the Lumia 950 and the 950 XL featuring 5.2- and 5.7-inch screens, which will be priced at USD 549 (about Rs 35,780) and USD 649 (about Rs 42,300), respectively.

The smartphones with a 20-MP rear camera will be available in November.

The Lumia 550, due in December, will be priced at USD 139.

Microsoft, however, did not give specification details.

Microsoft has made a mark in the enterprise and gaming space globally, but has struggled against iOS (Apple) and Android (Google) in the mobile phone market.

Besides, Microsoft also unveiled the latest version of the Surface Pro featuring a 12.3-inch display. Panay said Surface Pro 4 is faster by 30 per cent than its predecessor and 50 per cent than a Macbook Air.

Pre-orders for the Surface Pro 4 start on October 7 starting at USD 899. The device rolls out on October 26.

The much-awaited HoloLens will start shipping in the first quarter of 2016 for USD 3,000. HoloLens is the world’s first fully untethered holographic computer powered by Windows 10.

Microsoft Band 2, priced at USD 249, features a new curved display and Microsoft’s Cortana (personal assistant) to enable users to reply to texts or set reminders. It will be available in the US from October 30, with additional markets to follow.