Microsoft hints at Surface Pro battery accessory

Microsoft has responded to early reports of poor battery life from the Surface Pro, hinting at the potential for a battery accessory

8 Feb 2013
Microsoft Surface Pro

Microsoft has hinted at plans to release an external battery add-on for its Surface Pro tablet, addressing concerns from early pre-release reviews that its poor battery life could be a sticking point for buyers.

More an Ultrabook sawn in half than a standard tablet, the Surface Pro sits alongside the Surface RT as Microsoft's top-end portable computing offering. Running the full desktop version of Windows 8 on an Intel processor, the Surface Pro is undoubtedly an impressive device, but battery life is around half that of the Surface RT - as little as four hours of active use per charge.

Answering community questions on the Reddit site, Microsoft's Panos Panay, corporate vice president in charge of the Surface line, explained that changes made to the connector on the base of the tablet - dubbed the 'Accessory Spine' in official Microsoft lingo - were introduced into the Surface Pro specifically for an external battery option. "[An external battery] would require extending the design of the accessory spine to include some way to transfer higher current between the peripheral and the main battery," Panay explained, before adding: "Which we did."

Exactly what form the external battery would take is not clear, but with the positioning of the Accessory Spine at the base of the device it's likely Microsoft is planning a full-size keyboard accessory with integrated battery, as seen in the popular Asus Transformer line of Android tablets. While this would add bulk to the tablet, and turn it into more of a laptop, it would also likely double the battery life of the device.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has had to cancel a planned launch event for the Surface Pro due to a snowstorm in New York. While the press event, which would see the first production models going on sale early in Union Square, will no longer be taking place, the company has confirmed that it will still be releasing the tablets for purchase in the US and Canada on Saturday.

Read more