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Microsoft confirms Surface NOT DEAD YET, next-gen version coming

Denies report it's planning to axe the line

Zombie cloud

Microsoft says it's still committed to its Surface tablets despite disappointing sales, and that it will keep pushing the kit through at least one more generation of the hardware.

The software giant wasted no time in responding to a report by Taiwanese business rag DigiTimes that claimed Microsoft was "not very aggressive about development of a next-generation Surface and is likely to terminate the product line."

In a blog post on Thursday, Surface general manager Brian Hall said that, on the contrary, Microsoft is committed to "the continued growth of the Surface brand."

"We have kept our roadmap plans close to the vest, as we needed to properly land new Surface products in a competitive market," Hall wrote. "But we've always said that we have a roadmap of products."

To prove his point, Hall said that many of Microsoft's current Surface Pro accessories will be compatible with the next generation of the Pro slab, including the Type Cover, Docking Station, power adapter, Ethernet adapter, and more.

He stopped short of saying when a new Surface Pro might appear, however, or what it might look like.

Microsoft launched the latest generation of its professional-grade fondleslab, the Surface Pro 3, at an event in May. It hit store shelves in the US in June and debuted in the UK and 25 other global markets in August.

But although Microsoft has been coy with hard sales figures, the numbers don't look good. Despite having rolled out three generations of the hardware so far, Redmond's Surface group reportedly remains in the red, with total losses said to be as high as $1.7bn.

In its most recent annual report, the software giant said it spent $1.9bn on Surface during the 12 months that ended on June 30, 2014, for revenues of just $853m. And Surface revenues were down 18 per cent in the fourth quarter of Microsoft's fiscal 2014 as compared to the third (though to be fair, the Surface Pro 3 had only just launched at the close of the year).

And then there's the matter of the much-rumored Surface Mini, said to be an eight-inch or smaller slab to round out the line. In a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission in July, Microsoft acknowledged that it had decided "not to ship a new form factor," adding fuel to speculation that the Surface line was on the skids.

Now that Redmond has committed to releasing another generation of slabs, however, let the speculation commence as to how the new kit might be configured – Core M, anyone? – because Microsoft isn't saying.

"Of course we'll have to wait and see about what those products may look like or when they might come to markets," Hall said. ®

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