Recent quarterly financial results show a 22% decline in Surface revenue and it has been attributed to Microsoft not refreshing its Surface Pro lineup. Surface Pro 4 currently constitutes lion’s share of Microsoft’s Surface sales. Microsoft has not released successor to Surface Pro 4, which is already ageing as per Industry standards.

But if Panos Panay, the man credited for bringing Surface product range to life, is to believed, next Surface Pro 5 or Surface Next, as he likes to call it, mayn’t necessarily feature hardware changes. Panos in fact has said that Surface Pro 4 will remain competitive for next 5 years.

When it’s meaningful and the change is right, we’ll put it on market,” he said of the still-hypothetical next Surface Pro. “Meaningful change isn’t necessarily a hardware change, which is what a lot of people look for. They’re like, ‘Where’s the latest processor?’ That’s not what I mean. I’m looking for an experiential change that makes a huge difference in product line.” Examples he cites include making big strides in battery life or dropping the weight significantly, rather than just upgrading the processing power.

“You’ll see that same meaningful impact when Pro 5, or Pro Next hits the market,” Panay said, quickly qualifying that, “there’s no such thing as a Pro 5.”

So, does that mean that instead of Surface Pro 5 with next-gen hardware and innovations, Microsoft will repeat a Surface Book with performance base kind of follow-up. We have heard about that too, but it is surprising to see Microsoft loosing grip of market reality at such a stage when Surface was slowly becoming a force.

Buyers have become accustomed to 12-months product life-cycle and what they expect as a minimum in a successor is hardware refresh. So, if Microsoft reveals a Surface Pro 4 Refresh instead of Surface Pro 5, it will very soon see its market-share eroding even more. Competition is fierce and Apple will grab such an opportunity with both hands.

Microsoft has teased next Surface Event in China on May 23 and this may mean no Surface Pro 5 launch at this event.