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Microsoft brings Thunderbolt to Surface computers

The high-speed Thunderbolt 4 port introduced in the Surface Laptop Studio and Surface Pro 8 will replace the USB-C ports found in older Surface computers.

Microsoft introduced Thunderbolt ports Wednesday in its latest Surface computers, the first of its products to get the high-speed data transfer technology that's compatible with multiple docking stations.

Microsoft added the Thunderbolt 4 to the new Surface Laptop Studio and Surface Pro 8. The new port will replace the USB-C ports in previous Surface computers that supported only Microsoft's docking stations.

Microsoft long avoided making the transition to Thunderbolt, a bidirectional input/output data transfer technology. Most of its competitors, including Apple, Dell, HP and Lenovo, feature the Thunderbolt port.

"My use case of [Thunderbolt] is one cable to provide data, power and display output for my laptop as a simplified docking station," said Otmane Fettal, DevOps engineer at Morocco-based FY COMPUTING.

Fettal said that he thought there was much promise to the USB-C alternative that Microsoft pitched, but he found it "super confusing" to use.

Thunderbolt was one of many advancements in the latest Surface hardware.

The Surface Pro 8 has two Thunderbolt ports on one side
The Surface Pro 8 comes with longer battery life and a Thunderbolt 4 port.

The Surface Laptop Studio, an all-new product, adds significant design changes to the portfolio. Users can prop the screen on the keyboard like a tablet on a stand and adjust it further to transform the laptop into a thicker tablet. But unlike the Surface Pro, the keyboard is not detachable. 

Microsoft increased the battery life of the Surface Pro eight to 16 hours per charge and added 43% more computing power than the previous model and up to 1 TB of storage. The 2-in-1 tablet comes with the 11th-generation Intel Core processor. It magnetically stores the Surface Slim Pen 2, a writing utensil designed for the Surface touch screen.

Microsoft designed the Surface lineup for Windows 11, the operating system upgrade available on the same day as the new devices. 

Microsoft also redesigned its foldable smartphone. The Surface Duo 2 comes with a triple camera lens on the outside of the fold. It also features 5G and a mini screen on the outside that shows notifications.

The Surface Pro 8 starts at $1,100. The Surface Laptop Studio starts at $1,600 and the Surface Duo 2 at $1,500. All the new models are available for pre-order online and generally available Oct. 5.

Maxim Tamarov is a news writer covering mobile and end-user computing. He previously wrote for The Daily News in Jacksonville, N.C., and the Sun Transcript in Winthrop, Mass. He graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in journalism. He can be found on Twitter at @MaximTamarov.

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