On the Surface, more than it seems

Updated: Sep 30, 2020

Oh, why do they do that? Let's talk Microsoft, and why the Surface audio accessories surprised everyone. Read on.


Violins, love them or hate them, they can make beautiful music, or they can scratch out your eyeballs.

It's the same at Microsoft, where some decisions leave you pleased and others leave you perplexed.

Everyone was surprised when Microsoft released the Surface Headphones. Why the heck are they building headphones? They're not a music company! They're not an audio company!

After the near-death experience of the Groove music service, and the deep grave that sinks the Zune music player in to obscurity, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Microsoft wouldn't dare touch anything to do with audio, ever again. Yet they did.

They're Great

Even more surprisingly, the Surface Headphones are great! Universally praised by tech geeks and audiophiles alike, the team that brought us the Surface Pro brought us another hit.

Sorry to sound like a broken record, but the Surface Headphones 2 built on the success of version one, and refined the experience while making them cheaper to buy. Another win.

Level Up

Then they levelled-up again, with the Surface Earbuds, another fantastic audio device, and a great accessory to add to the Surface ecosystem.

And that...

And that brings us neatly to my next point, which is, that the Surface Earbuds are more than just an audio device.

In much the same way that Windows can be arranged and re-arranged and have multi-tasking going on underneath, so too do to the Surface Earbuds.

Not only can you use them to listen to audio, but you can use the touch-sensitive sides to raise and lower the volume, skip tracks, move back and forth, while listening to music or a video.

Moreover, you can use them to progress slides in a PowerPoint presentation. Really. Yes. They can also be used to enable captions and subtitles, and do translations on the fly. Smart. Apple AirPods don't do that.

It makes sense

It makes sense. That seems to be the mantra of the Surface team. If something makes enough sense, let's do it, and let's do it really really well.

All of this audio engineering in both the Surface Headphones and the Surface Earbuds make even more sense when you realise they are designed for a future product - the Surface Duo - as companion devices.

it's all well and good to pair your headphones or earbuds with your Surface Pro and watch YouTube, or stream your favourite show. It's even better to pair them with your Surface Laptop, Surface Book 3, or Surface Studio and watch that corporate PowerPoint presentation on the big screen, with great personal audio direct to your ears.

For anyone who has ever tried to pair your headphones or earbuds with your iPhone, well, it's not quite as good.

Enter the Surface Duo, the smart device that's not a smartphone, it's a productivity powerhouse by day, and a relaxation tool by night.

The Duo can pay audio, video, games, music, streaming, presentations, do video calls, Teams meetings and even regular phone calls - and this is where the Surface Earbuds truly shine, when you pair them with the Duo and have a very neatly engineered and customised audio experience, where you can use the touch-enabled features on the Earbuds to do great things on screen, like advancing slides, without having to put your hand over the screen and miss important details.

Even more sense

It makes even more sense when you consider another up-coming product, the Surface Neo dual-screen tablet. This thing looks awesome, and is going to make the best use of the Surface Headphones 2 and Surface Earbuds, along with the Surface Pen.

As for the Surface Neo, it's not yet released, so for now, we're just scratching the surface.

Until next time,

Xavier Zymantas


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Who is Xavier Zymantas?

Xavier Zymantas started out as the boy genius and piano player who completed 12 years of schooling by age 15, started university at age 15, finished two IT degrees by age 19, worked as a computer programmer for 9 years, then became self employed as a technology consultant. Xavier moved into general consulting and now offers insights, tips, tricks and techniques across a range of business areas.

Xavier's mind works differently, and he often uses techniques from speech, music, travel, business, and life to generate outcomes specific to each business. While each problem may be different, shockingly the solutions are remarkably similar.

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