NEW YORK — Microsoft refreshed its Surface tablet computers Monday, giving them longer battery life and better comfort on laps as the software giant continues its transformation into a devices and services company.
The company said it tried to address many shortcomings of the first-generation Surface models, sales of which have been slow. Microsoft needs to boost its tablet business to make up for sales declines in traditional desktop and laptop computers. Research firm IDC is forecasting a nearly 10 percent decline in PC shipments this year. IDC also said tablets will outsell traditional PCs in the last three months of the year.
The new tablet models come with a better built-in kickstand so they can rest more firmly on users’ laps while they sit on the couch. Microsoft also is making a docking station and a wireless mouse for business customers.
The Surface Pro 2 is for professionals who want the power of a laptop in a tablet. With a starting price of $899, the Pro 2 uses a full version of the upcoming Windows 8.1, meaning it can run any program written for Windows desktops and laptops.
The Pro 2 promises 75 percent more battery life than the debut Pro model, which came out in February. Microsoft did not specify the number of hours of expected use. There’s also an optional Power Cover accessory that extends battery life even further.
A cheaper model, Surface 2, offers a 25 percent improvement in battery life, which means it can get up to 10 hours of use. It also has a better screen compared with last October’s Surface RT. It uses Windows RT 8.1, meaning it can run only apps specifically designed for it. Microsoft is selling the Surface 2 starting at $449 and will continue to offer last year’s Surface RT for $349.
Keyboard covers will cost extra: $120 for a Touch Cover 2, which has a working, printed keyboard on the inside surface but whose keys don’t move when pushed, and $130 for Type Cover 2, which has keys that move. A $200 docking station also will come out early next year for Pro models.