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Microsoft just unveiled a serious competitor to Apple's Macbook Pro

And the new addition to the Surface range, which Microsoft called its first laptop, came with a twist.

The Surface Book, described by Microsoft as its first laptop.
The Surface Book, described by Microsoft as its first laptop.
Image: Microsoft

MICROSOFT TOOK ITS biggest step towards challenging Apple’s Macbook range by unveiling two new premium Surface devices.

At a press event in New York, Microsoft unveiled a number of upgrades and developments to existing product,.the highlights being the Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book, the latter described as Microsoft’s first laptop.

Microsoft says the Surface range has helped bring in $3 billion in revenue for the company since 2012, but the focus today was very much on premium products.

The Surface Pro 4 continues to build on the foundations set by the last three Pro devices. It comes with 12.3-inch screen, a bigger trackpad –  a common complaint regarding previous Surface keyboards – and a fingerprint sensor.

Microsoft claims the Pro 4 is 50% faster than a Macbook Pro and it comes with 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage.

The stylus also received an upgrade and can now detect 1,024 different levels of pressure sensitivity. It also comes with an eraser at the back, allowing you to remove mistakes or errors without having to put it down.

Source: Surface/YouTube

The surprise was the announcement of a second Surface product called the Surface Book. Pitching it as the company’s first laptop, the 13.5-inch screen device is designed for power users and gamers and was described to be the fastest laptop of its kind out there.

But as a grand reveal, it turned out the Surface Book has a removable keyboard, bringing it more in line with the design ethos the Surface range follows.

Only US prices were revealed at the event with the Surface Pro 4 starting at $899 while the Surface Book will start at $1,499. No prices or release date for other regions were announced.

Source: Surface/YouTube

Hololens and new phones

A number of other products were covered and announced at the two-hour event. The event also included another demo of Hololens, its augmented reality headset, where it showed off its gaming capabilities and introduced wearable holograms.

In the demo shown at the event, Hololens detected an item held by the player (likely a specialised controller) and turned it into a holographic weapon which was used to shoot flying robots in the room.

It now officially has a price, but only for those interested in developing programs for it. The developers kit, which will include the headset and developer tools, will cost $3,000 and will be made available in the first quarter of 2016.

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Source: TechSolid/YouTube

Other devices revealed included an upgrade Microsoft Band, the company’s fitness tracker, and two new Lumia devices.

The Lumia 950 comes in two versions, normal (5.2-inch) and XL (5.7-inch). Both come with two antennas to ensure connectivity at all times, OLED screens, and a 20MP camera which can record 4K video and is said to work well in low-light situations.

As part of its Lumia announcement, it also revealed the Display Dock, an adapter that lets you use your phone like a desktop and connects to keyboard, mouse and monitor.

Display Dock Microsoft's Display Dock which turns any phone running Windows 10 into a desktop. Source: Microsoft

Much like the Surface range, only US pricing was revealed with the Lumia 950 starting at $549 while the Lumia 950 XL starts at $649.

Source: Microsoft Lumia/YouTube

Since the theme of the event was Windows 10, it was revealed that more than 110 million people are now running Windows 10, more than two months after it was first released.

The company aims to have a billion devices running Windows 10 within two to three years.

Read: Europe’s top court has torn up the rules on how US tech giants use your data >

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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