Microsoft bumped Surface Pro 2 specs two months after launch

Douglas Soltys

January 2, 2014 9:45pm

Imagine that you received a Surface Pro 2 from a loved one over the holidays. Now let’s say said they allowed you to open your gift early, because you just couldn’t wait, and you happened to download the recently recalled software update, which happened to bork your new tablet/PC hybrid. You’d probably be pretty bummed out, but still excited to use your new tech toy once the patch is released.

How would you feel if I told you that your Surface Pro 2 is already out of date?

The Verge is reporting that by late December, no more than two months after launch, Microsoft started shipping Surface Pro 2 tablets with updated Intel processors. The new Surface Pro 2 model features an Intel i5-4300u processor clocked at 1.9GHz, compared to the launch units i5-4200u chip at 1.6GHz. The new chipset also includes Intel’s Trusted Execution Technology, which allows for improved software security.

A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the switch in a statement to The Verge:

“Microsoft routinely makes small changes to internal components over the lifetime of a product, based on numerous factors including supply chain partnerships, availability, and value for our customers. With any change to hardware or software, we work to ensure that the product experience remains excellent.”

Microsoft did not confirm, however, if unaware holiday shoppers who paid the same price for an inferior unit could return the tablet for the updated model.

While Apple has made similar iterative hardware changes to iPads over the years, I’m hard pressed to ever remember a change coming so quickly after launch, and during the holiday season, no less, when a large number of devices would be sold. This stuff happens all the time in the PC space, but as I’ve written recently, Microsoft will not succeed by acting like a PC company in a post-PC world. Consumers don’t like feeling as though they’ve been ripped off, and they certainly don’t like feeling as though they made the wrong purchasing decision over the holidays. I’m sure only a few Surface Pro 2 buyers will notice the bait-and-switch, saving Microsoft from public outcry, but that doesn’t make it any less of a shame.

SourceThe Verge

  • Jeremy Filth

    Ouch..

  • deltatux

    ASUS did that to us Transformer Prime owners. The product itself had several design flaws and to slap us in the face, they fixed the design flaw on the Transformer Infinity which was released about 4 months after the launch of the Prime and didn’t bother fixing ours nor exchanging them for free. Talk about massive slap in the face!

  • frostythesnowman

    If its any consolation, that’s a fairly minor bump considering the 15W TDP is a bigger limit than the clock speeds are in practice. Looking at my unit; engage the GPU and CPU simultaneously or push both CPU cores hard and it doesn’t lock at 2.3Ghz despite running well below the temperatures that would prevent a full turbo. It’d be interesting to see some benchmarks run, I’d expect in the range of 5% improvement.
    As a Pro 2 owner, this really isn’t too concerning to me. Its not like they made some large change that dramatically improves the experience in some way, fixes severe design flaws or the like.

    • Shoey5

      Well said

    • d a

      It isn’t a big deal to you, someone who understands this but the optics are horrible. People just love to beat on MS anyway.

    • jackjiarocks

      as a pro 2 owner, i am worried if there are problems with 4200.

  • sellib

    Well, there is the iPad 4 coming out about 6mths after the 3. That would be about the closest for Apple.

    • oz

      What about the multiple LCD panels, of varying quality, from different manufactuers they use in their screens or ssds or ram etc…

  • King kobi

    the surface 2 is not 199 at future shop I’m not sure where you’re getting your information from.

    • King kobi

      It was 299 for 64gb and 249 for 32gb surface rt. Are you sure it was 199?

    • King kobi

      No worries brother I get mixed up with prices sometimes. I was able to snag a surface rt 32gb on black Friday. Definitely a sweet deal. Not too worried about games I have a galaxy note 2 for yg a that. The surface is far more productive then any other tablets. Happy New Year mate.

    • wes

      Think he’s confused with RT and Pro. Like most people.. Its not his fault, but rather its Microsoft’s.

    • wes

      Lol happy new year

  • Shoey5

    This is common practice in the industry, especially with other components, market grows fast, and pricing/availability can change just as quickly. You see this everywhere, just take a look at your router and note the Version number indicating the hardware differences.
    With that said, it’s not like they upgraded it to an I7…despite what’s on paper actual benchmarks between the 4200u/4300u aren’t that far apart. TXT is nice but if anyone knew what it was and needed it, they wouldn’t have gotten a surface just yet so if they wanted one, it’s a bonus to them now.
    My guess is that the 4300u was available in the quantity they needed and probably priced similar or cheaper than the 4200u so it’s what they threw into the lot.
    Gotta love the bloggers though and their end of the world to every little piece of news….

    • cloakster

      100% correct. i5-4300u is now readily available for manufacturer’s to buy at the exact same price as the i5-4200u. I think this is the smartest decision MS has made with their tablets.

    • Nadefrenzy

      Provide any other instance with a leading technology product that such a “common practice” has occurred within just a few months of release.

    • Shoey5

      Go to a support page and take a look to see if there is a V1, V2, V3 etc for a product line. These versions indicate different hardware thus the requirement for different firmware’s. I’ve run into this many times in the past, sometimes looking for an older version (different hardware) due to specific requirements like an unadvertised feature not in a hardware part. Of course sometimes parts are compatible and are just streamlined so no versioning but there are other signs to distinguish the lots…serial numbers, package marketing etc. It goes beyond parts to even manufacturing locations, one lot of serial numbers could be manufactured in say the US and another in Mexico…
      It’s a competitive market, sometimes it comes down to availability, sometimes to pennies in price and sometimes even to production schedules outside your control requiring a need to find a different production site. As has been pointed out by many in the comments, the 4300u is on part in performance/price and more available for this reason, what do you want them to do discontinue the Surface Line because they can’t get any 4200u procs at a decent price?

    • Nadefrenzy

      You really think that they’re out of 4200U cpus? How can you say for sure? How can you even say that the 4300U is a cheaper buy? Based on what a bunch of random people on an internet site said? You really gonna buy that?

    • Shoey5

      Go to Intel’s website, they are the same price. Intel themselves have been known for selling faster CPU’s as lower speed and simply locking them because it was cheaper for them.

  • Igor Magun

    Unless there’s some kind of flaw in the prior CPU, which there doesn’t seem to be, I doubt most users will notice the 0.3GHz difference. It was likely a purely business-driven decision, rather than something to do with the product itself. Really no reason for owners to be miffed here.

    • Nadefrenzy

      300MHz is a big difference. I’d feel ripped off if they got the extra bump for the same price that I paid.

  • Jérémy Letendre-Côté

    Ouff, I bough one and returned it a couple weeks ago, I am so so happy!

  • wes

    Uh… Its the Surface Pro 2. That would make the base price 899$ and not the Surface RT @ 64 gig at 300$. Either I misunderstood you or you misunderstood.

  • cloakster

    I like this decision by MS a LOT. Intel always updates their cpu’s 2-3 times a year and for some reason manufacturer’s never update their PC’s accordingly. The 4200u and 4300u have the exact same cost, so why not use it? This is how the PC industry works, those who will actually benefit from this increase already knows that.

  • Quantos

    For some reason, some reason seem to believe that any changes made to a product after its release date is a slap to the face of early adopters. Thing is, early adopters are just that, people who purchased the product as-is, when it came out or very soon after. I don’t understand how a company can be faulted for that. If anything, this particular instance sounds like Intel made the 4300u available, which Microsoft decided to add to the Surface 2 Pro because it respected the requirements (TDP) and price (I can’t imagine Intel really bumping up the price a lot or even at all for what just seems to be a clock increase due to a more mature build process). Are manufacturers supposed to hold for a while after the product is released to update it? I understand that the rationale probably is something along the lines of: “Well, it’s only been two months, why didn’t they just release the product like this in the first place?” That would be a valid critique only if the upgrade in question was available at release, or even prior to release date in order to account for QA and testing.

  • John Tresidder

    How is it bait and switch. Everyone thought they were buying the original hardware, then Microsoft made it better without telling anyone. So they baited With hamburger and switched it to steak. How is that wrong. People are getting more than they expected, not less!

  • Zed Ahmad

    Yes! Shame on Microsoft! They sold me Windows 3.1 and now they’ve got the gall to not give me a free copy of Windows 8! How dare they!

  • beyond

    well if people who bought the first iteration are upset at this, then maybe Microsoft should give them a gift card of at least $25 to compensate for the price/performance difference if any.

  • Dirty_Harry2

    I wish Microsoft built all PCs. Great build quality and specs, no bloatware, AND they do incremental upgrades throughout the year? Fantastic. Meanwhile their OEMs put out plastic crap packed with bloated nagware Norton/McAfee/Adobe/games/15 toolbars that make the PC run like garbage out of the box.

  • Nadefrenzy

    Surface RT for even $99 is a joke. Surface pro is a whole different case tho.

    • Nadefrenzy

      iPads are not a joke at all. You gotta be one very uninformed individual to make that statement comparing a full fledged OS to a mobile OS.

      Also, RT is horrible for movie playback. It can’t even handle 720p MKV video files.

      The games collection on Windows RT is big joke too. iPad crushes the Surface in that as well as apps tons of which are actually very essential apps ie TD Bank’s app.

  • kent

    There is no inferiority. it performs the same, the MHz is just marketing number by intel