The next Surface devices could finally get Thunderbolt. Here’s why that’s vital

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Microsoft’s annual Fall Surface event is coming up on September 22nd, but there’s already a big rumor that might be worth noting on the coming day. And no, it’s not about the “one more thing” device. Rather, it is about the port on said device.

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For the first time, Microsoft may include Thunderbolt support on the Surface, according to a report in The Nerdshala’s Tom Warren.

For most people, this seems like a small change. But that’s why Thunderbolt may finally make Surface devices deserving of the “Pro” designation they’ve always had.

A long-standing problem for Microsoft

Microsoft Surface Pro 7 Keyboard
Riley Young / Nerdshala

To understand why this is so exciting, let’s take a step back. Ever since Thunderbolt hit the scene and became more mainstream on PCs, Microsoft has been very reluctant to adopt it.

These days, Thunderbolt ports look like USB-C ports. You’ll know you have a Thunderbolt device when there is a lightning bolt near the port on the laptop or tablet. Even this year’s iPad Pro has Thunderbolt. Still, Microsoft has always opted for the standard USB-C Thunderbolt on all of its devices.

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That means that despite selling “Pro” tablets like the Surface Pro 7+ and Surface Pro X, Microsoft’s devices over $1,000 don’t support Thunderbolt technology. This probably isn’t a deal-breaker for some, but it means expensive, professional equipment with slower port speeds, more limited docking, and the inability to power accessories like external graphics.

Thunderbolt lets you transmit data at up to 40GBps for faster transfers to USB drives and external SSDs. For multimedia, you can output to two 4K monitors at 60Hz (or one 8K display). When it comes to mobile productivity, you can use Thunderbolt on your computer with USB-C to charge smartphones at up to 100 watts of power.

According to Microsoft, the lack of support for Thunderbolt has to do with security.

If you look at the market now, Microsoft’s $1,000 Midrange Surface Pro 7+ There is no port. Still, if you turn to Lenovo, and opt to buy Lenovo’s ThinkPad X12 Detachable, you’ll get Thunderbolt 4 included. This is the new Thunderbolt standard, which could bring a performance boost and other benefits. Both devices have the latest processors from Intel, but Microsoft opts to exclude the Thunderbolt part on the motherboard.

According to Microsoft, the lack of support for Thunderbolt has to do with device security. Documents leaked in 2020 revealed that Microsoft believed Thunderbolt 3 was not secure. Microsoft believed this could lead to “indirect memory access”, where someone with bad intentions and extensive hacking knowledge could use the right tools, techniques, and ports to access the data stored on the device. can use.

The lack of Thunderbolt may also be due to Microsoft’s desire to sell its own products. While you can find a variety of Thunderbolt docks that work with almost any PC that supports the technology, Microsoft wants you to use the Surface Connect instead. company sells a special surface dock 2, which uses proprietary Surface Connect ports to power dual monitors, and adds a USB-C port, a USB-A port, and an Ethernet jack to your Surface.

Microsoft hasn’t commented on the exact rationale behind its slow adoption of Thunderbolt, but it seems to be changing its tune.

change for good

Microsoft Surface Pro 5 2017

Even as with all Pro products currently sold by Microsoft, there’s one more on the way. Microsoft is rumored to be working on some sort of Surface Laptop Pro model, which could potentially be a professional-level content creation machine.

This upcoming laptop, more than any other Surface device, could benefit from Thunderbolt 4. This new laptop is rumored to have the latest RTX mobile graphics from Nvidia and new processors from Intel, which sounds good. Microsoft will be selling an all-powerful Surface with features in line with other mainstream machines, and it will mix its hardware with its software.

Having Thunderbolt support lets you unlock new levels of productivity on Surface devices – just like Windows 11 wants to do it for you.

Better late than never, right?

More importantly, you also connect to an external GPU via Thunderbolt 4. So, let’s say you buy a budget-level Surface Laptop Pro without RTX or GTX graphics, you can always buy an external GPU and add one later. Given that Microsoft is marketing. Geared toward Windows 11 gamers, it would be a natural fit for the new Surface devices powered by the operating system.

Elsewhere, the new Thunderbolt 4 standard lets you quickly wake up the computer at a touch of a keyboard or mouse when connected to a Thunderbolt dock, and has the same direct memory attack protection that Microsoft was afraid of.

Better late than never, right? The time seems right for Microsoft to finally come out with Thunderbolt, and Surface devices will be better for it.

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