Microsoft Intros Surface Studio Computers For Creative Computing

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Microsoft today introduced its new Surface Studio computer line, touchscreen computers that are designed for creative computing tasks.

The Surface Studio can be used as a traditional workstation or as giant touchscreen desktop. It features a high-resolution 28-inch 4.5K screen that is designed to work with pen, touch and Surface Dial — a tangible dial controller.

Here’s the official Surface Studio intro video:

The entry-level Surface Studio system starts at $2,999, but has relatively low-end specs (1TB / Intel Core i5 – 8GB RAM / 2GB GPU), for digital audio work. A Core i7/16GB version is available for $3,499 and a maxed out system (2TB / Intel Core i7 – 32GB RAM / 4GB GPU) for $4,199.

microsoft-surface-dial

In addition to the Surface Studio, Microsoft introduced the Surface Dial – a tangible knob controller that can be used to: adjust volume or other settings; make tool selections; and as a navigational tool.

Here’s the official intro video:

When you place the Dial directly on the screen, it brings up a set of digital tools specific to the app that is open.

For example, with Surface Dial, artists can change the color or the size of their brush tip as they paint without ever moving the pen away from the screen. The combination of Dial, pen and touch controls are designed to let you work in a more immediate and tactile way.

Surface Dial will be available for US $99, starting Nov. 10.

With the Surface Studio and Surface Dial, Microsoft is creating a new computing form-factor that’s tailored to creative computing tasks. It remains to be seen whether the new capabilities are supported by music and audio app developers – but it’s not hard to imagine ways these tools could be used in music production.

What do you think of Microsoft’s new Surface Studio and Surface Dial? Share your thoughts in the comments!

29 thoughts on “Microsoft Intros Surface Studio Computers For Creative Computing

  1. $99?

    Obviously for an iPad sized one… I can’t imagine one being as big as in the video, having any type of processing power to make it competitive in graphics/audio and be at that price point

  2. Can buy some interesting synths for that price and remain computerless!

    Except for the old Atari ST with Notator I have only bad experiences with computers and audio software, so I decided never to walk that path again (and obviously don’t trust Microsoft on this). This product might be very nice for graphics, but that’s not my cup of tea.

    1. really? computers have been a fairly stable mainstay of music production and performance for the better part of the last 2 decades.I have been recording and performing for probably the last 15+ years with laptops+equipment…..

  3. Similar to Lenovo’s ideacentre all-in-one PCs, which also feature multitouch screens that are fully adjustable.

    If they only ran iOS, I’d be sold. 😀

  4. I can see this being really appealing to graphic designers but $3k for an i5, hybrid drive, and 8 gigs of ram is just ridiculous. The Surface Book offers 256gb, 8gigs and a dual core processor at $2399, that’s $100-200 less than the top of the line (non cto) quad core MacBook Pro which will have a quad core Skylake and most likely 16gigs and 1TB SSD standard starting tomorrow. Seems like all Microsoft has done is made Apple’s prices look reasonable.

  5. It seems to be perfect for all kind of graphical work (except you can see how the pencil is drawing with a lag in the promotional video).
    I couldn’t have one on my table though and I like to keep my head straight when sitting rather than looking down.

  6. Price is too high, but if future models emerge which are cheaper and have a good specification, and can see this merging the desktop/laptop computer with the tablet. I think it opens up the prospect of tablet music apps (iOs/Android) running on such a PC directly alongside AU/VST type software instruments. It has mini displayport, so they need to produce matching external displays that can tilt down in the same way. Add in USB MIDI controllers and a good audio interface and you have a highly innovative software studio setup. As for the ‘puck’ it sort of reminds me of Reactable – which begs the question whether the company that produces Reactable would produce a version with physical ‘bits’ to go with this PC.

  7. All things come full circle. Microsoft the company that was deemed to have died has resurrected and they are actually making the creative industry, from movies to music a priority. A clever tactic that was Apple’s territory for decades, however Apple has foolishly ignored this all important segment now for nearly a decade as it has focused on the very profitable consumer business.

    As a Mac user from early childhood, this is a stunning reversal of fortune for Microsoft. The stodgy behemoth has become nimble and forward thinking. Whilst Apple is regurgitating legacy products.

    Time will tell if Microsoft can carry this momentum and steal Apple’s industry appeal. One thing is certain, they are paying attention to Apple’s blueprint of yesteryear and executing it brilliantly.

  8. After using the Wacom Cintiq for years then purchasing a microsoft surface, you realize they didnt really knock it out of the park just yet. Something about that surface screen being so slippery, it was extremely hard to draw on and my job is to draw. Maybe i was spoiled with a cintiq but whatever they have going on with the screen glass and the pen nib on the cintiq is far superior than the surfaces. Sucks, because i was all about the portable windows operating system with photoshop and After effects running pretty good. And FL studio on the Bart train was awesome as well.

    1. My setup is similar.
      MS surface Pro 4 + Reason Rewired to Ableton + bounch of VST + Kontrol Master

      100% pure happiness 🙂

      Surface pen, really sucks!

  9. Very intriguing computers from Microsoft.

    Like some earlier commenters I’m a died-in-the-wool Apple user but Microsoft seems to be more forward thinking right now, more adventurous technologically.

    For audio they still have the issue of the fact that the ecosystem that supports OSX (or MacOS as they now call it) is deeply embedded into the pro audio community. Just to give a personal example, my Universal Audio thunderbolt interfaces represent a major investment that serves as a convincing impediment to migrating to a Windows system.

    Where Apple really is letting down artists and music pros, though, is in some of their weird consumerist policies. To give an example: I discovered the hard way recently that you can no longer officially download MacOS 10.11, since 10.12 is available. But, 10.12 is not supported by a lot of audio software yet (including especially the drivers for my aforementioned UA interfaces) and is thus a complete no-go for my music production. Apple’s refusal to allow me to download 10.11 from their website or app store shows how deeply out of touch they have become with media professionals, who must have 100% control over which operating system they are running due to the byzantine demands of various interlocking applications.

    One has to hope that Microsoft will light a fire under Apple to get their act together for music, graphics, and video production so that we all don’t end up having to start over in 5 years with Windows computers.

  10. Lol!! I thought my recent investment on kontrol master device was a mistake when I see this surface dial thing.
    Not really, for a moment I’ve felt really bad lol 299$ vs 99$ is a huge difference, after see how MS dial device work…no way!! The whole process of that onscreen menu selector is slow, for graphic arts, mmm maybe is ok, for a DAW….come on!
    Im very happy with my kontrol master unit, perfect and smoth control of all my VST, Ableton and rewired Reason, is really usefull specially on the final mix stage. 🙂

  11. This could be very cool..However i remember reading reviews about surface pro 4 saying that it is kind of a disaster with audio, so i have my doubts…

    1. Me too! I’m currently in the market for a Windows system w/ touchscreen that will run Bitwig. A Surface 4 or Surface Studio might be The Answer – but I’d like to see an announcement from Bitwig, first. It’s not clear to me (at this time) whether or not Bitwig will support touch screens larger than 1920×1080 resolution.

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