If you've been waiting for Microsoft to announce the Surface Pro 5 tablet, then I have bad news for you — Microsoft's Panos Panay told CNET last week that "there's no such thing as a [Surface] Pro 5."
That's a huge bummer for lots of people who were hoping that Microsoft would unveil a new Surface Pro 5 at its upcoming event in Shanghai on May 23rd. It also makes that event even more mysterious, since Panay himself has hinted via an Instagram post that the event will see some kind of Microsoft Surface hardware announcement.
In the bigger picture, this raises some concerns for Microsoft's larger Surface strategy. The current Surface Pro 4 tablet, the flagship of the Surface product lineup, hasn't gotten a significant refresh since its launch in 2015. Now, Microsoft blames the age of the Surface Pro 4, plus increased Windows tablet competition, for a 26% dip in the Surface business last quarter.
Still, Panay dropped some hints as to what's causing the holdup, telling CNET that Microsoft is looking for "meaningful change" before it releases another tablet.
In other words, says Panay, the company isn't looking to just release the same device with upgraded specs; he wants "experiential change" that makes an impact in the way that people actually use it, like a lower weight or a hugely improved battery. If it can't come up with big changes like that, he says, Microsoft won't bother releasing it.
So on the plus side, that means that whatever Microsoft releases next should be a meaningful upgrade over the Surface Pro 4. On the other hand, it means that would-be Surface Pro 4 buyers are more likely to look elsewhere for a premium Windows 10 tablet.
Finally, while we've heard some rumors about a Surface Pro 5, hinting that it would only be a minor refresh, it now seems more likely that Microsoft is going to announce at least some minor upgrades to the existing Surface Pro 4 rather than a whole new device.