NEW YORK – Microsoft refreshed its Surface tablet computers Monday, giving them longer battery life and better comfort on laps as the software giant continues its transformation into a devices and services company.
The company said it tried to address many shortcomings of the first-generation Surface models, sales of which have been slow. Microsoft needs to boost its tablet business to make up for sales declines in traditional desktop and laptop computers.
The new models come with a better built-in kickstand so they can rest more firmly on users’ laps while those users sit on the couch. Microsoft is also making a docking station and a wireless mouse for business customers who need the mobility of tablets but also desire the traditional ways of using computers while in the office.
“We’ve definitely gotten a year smarter,” said Brian Hall, general manager of sales and marketing for Surface.
The redesigned Surface tablets come at a time of transition for Microsoft. Earlier this month, Microsoft struck a deal to acquire Nokia’s phone and services business for $7.2 billion. The company is also searching for a CEO to replace Steven A. Ballmer, who plans to retire within the next year.
The Surface Pro 2 is targeted at professionals who want the full power of a laptop in a tablet-style device. With a starting price of $899, the Pro 2 uses a full version of the upcoming Windows 8.1, meaning it can run any program written for Windows desktops and laptops.
The Pro 2 promises 75 percent more battery life than the debut Pro model, which came out in February. The improvement comes partly from the use of Intel’s Haswell chip, which uses less energy.
A cheaper model, Surface 2, offers a 25 percent improvement in battery life, which means it can get up to 10 hours of use. It also has a better screen compared with last October’s Surface RT. It uses Windows RT 8.1, meaning it can run only apps specifically designed for it. Microsoft said it now has 100,000 apps, or 10 times what was available last year. Like other RT tablets, Microsoft is including a version of its Office software for free with the Surface 2.