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What to expect at Microsoft's big hardware event on October 6th

Expect Surface tablets, Lumia smartphones, and maybe more at a rare Microsoft hardware event.

Microsoft hardware event October 6 Surface 4 tablets Lumia smartphones
Microsoft Surface tablet Credit: Image credit: Microsoft

You don't usually see "Microsoft" with "hardware event," unless they are a guest, but Microsoft will be holding just that, a hardware event, on October 6 in New York City. The company sent out invitations on Monday morning.

Of course, Microsoft did not say what hardware would be on display, but it's fairly easy to guess. The most obvious choice is Surface 4, unless they change the name. The Surface 3 models are now more than a year old, ancient in hardware terms. 

It really is time for a Surface update. Intel has released the Skylake processor, and Microsoft now has Windows 10. Plus, Apple has its new iPad Pro, Lenovo has a 12-inch tablet, and Dell has one coming in the next few months.

Then there's the Lumia business. Microsoft is sticking with it for now despite the fact that the Nokia acquisition has cost the company billions. The rumor is that two new flagship devices will be introduced: a 5.2-inch Lumia 950 with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor and 1080p display, and the 5.7-inch QHD Lumia 950 XL with the newer Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor. 

The final piece of hardware rumored for the event is an update to Microsoft's wearable, the Microsoft Band. It has been almost a year since its release, and at the time, it was viewed as a 1.0 product. In other words, it needed work. There isn't much floating around on the new Band, but it has nowhere to go but up.

On an unrelated note, you may have heard rumors last week that Microsoft was looking to buy a piece, or maybe all, of AMD. On the surface that seems ridiculous, but AMD is the chip supplier for the Xbox One and AMD is teetering on the brink of oblivion with plunging sales and continued losses.

Well, Citi's semiconductor analyst Chris Danely threw some cold water on that idea, saying "we seriously doubt it" and noting that Microsoft has a close partnership with AMD's rival Intel, among other reasons. He also noted that AMD has a cross-licensing patent agreement with Intel and any company buying AMD would have to renegotiate that deal, which would be awkward.

Danely said it might be possible that Microsoft acquires AMD's semi-custom processor businesses, although that too seems unlikely. The custom semi business not only makes the Xbox One's processor, it also makes the processor for the Sony PlayStation 4, and Sony would not sit quietly by and let that happen.

AMD is in rough shape, no question about it, and these rumors are constant. I'd say take them with a grain of salt, but really, you shouldn't take them at all when it comes to Microsoft. At best, Microsoft can throw them a financial lifeline like it did with Apple in 1997, but that's as far as it will go.

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