(Pocket-lint) - 2020 is set to be a massive year for Microsoft. 2019 brought with it a bunch of new stuff including the Surface Duo and Neo that we’ll see in 2020, a new flagship London Microsoft Store, details about the new Xbox – see below – and the preview version of the Project xCloud game streaming service appear.

Microsoft is now built on cloud services, and remains the biggest name in cloud computing – a dominance demonstrated in no small part by May 2019’s announcement that Sony would be using Microsoft’s technology for its own cloud-based gaming service and other future media streaming services.

So why is 2020 set to be so big for Microsoft? Check out our big reasons below. And that’s without mentioning that January 2020 brings the final final final end of support for Windows 7 – goodbye old friend. Though StatCounter still reckons that nearly 27 percent of global Windows users are still using the operating system… 


The powerful new Xbox

Whatever anybody says, this is Microsoft’s key launch for 2020 alongside the new Halo Infinite game. The Xbox Series X (formerly known as Project Scarlett) will usher in a stunning new console generation alongside the rival PlayStation 5 and both will be with us in time for Christmas 2020.

Any of the other devices below could fail to sell well and it wouldn’t hurt Microsoft that much. In the unlikely event that Xbox Series X is a flop it would be highly damaging. The device looks a little like a tower PC and boy, will it be powerful with a custom CPU and Radeon graphics based on AMD’s very latest work. 8K will be supported alongside 120fps frame rates. Expect more details at the E3 show in June.


An overdue Surface Book

Surface Book will get a proper refresh in 2020. Microsoft’s pro-level laptop with detachable screen has proven itself worthy of being called a full MacBook Pro rival but it needs a little bit of a rethink with new internals – particularly powerful new graphics. If we get what we want, Surface Book 3 should be one of 2020’s best laptops alongside the incoming 14-inch MacBook Pro. We also reckon we’ll get a refresh for the underpowered Surface Go this year, too – could it use an ARM-based processor like the Surface Pro X?

Can Windows 10 X be a success?

It’s difficult to know which of the innovative new dual-screen Surface Duo and Neo devices will be most important for Microsoft on an ongoing basis, but we’re going to choose Surface Neo. That’s because it runs Windows 10 X, which is Microsoft’s latest spin on a more refined Windows experience that should run on stacks of new device categories we haven’t even thought of yet - some other partners are on board, too.

The issue here is that whenever Microsoft has tried a similar to launch an experience based just around Windows Store or particular apps in the past – Windows RT, Windows 10 S – it has totally failed. People expect to be able to install whatever they want on Windows. Can we get beyond that?


Can Microsoft market a phone?

Surface Duo is a phone – maybe not primarily, but it’s an Android device that will have a SIM and can make calls. Of course, Microsoft can sell Duo directly and in retail stores, but will it make it available via phone networks? It’s certainly going to be interesting to see how this will play out. Both dual-screen devices are due to be launched late in the year.

Microsoft’s move into Android devices is perhaps surprising, but it’s not half as fascinating as seeing how this device actually gets on – and what it’ll be like to use. The original demonstrations showed the ability to move apps between the two screens, so what will that work like in practice?


A new Surface Studio

In a similar vein to the Surface Book 3, it’s time for a new Surface Studio to hit the streets – and this time it might be more upgradeable. The Surface Studio is even more of a pro-level device than the Surface Book but it’s still an important play. Last updated in late 2018, it seems certain we’ll get Surface Studio 3 in 2020. 

A full launch for xCloud

With the new Xbox on the horizon, we’re also expecting Project xCloud to get a full launch as well. With Google Stadia and Apple Arcade now out there in addition to PlayStation Now and Nvidia’s GeForce Now, Microsoft needs to get its offering out there sooner than later. Because of its prowess in cloud tech, it may be able to successfully battle the enemy of cloud gaming – latency. We reckon xCloud will probably launch ahead of the new Xbox Series X, probably just after E3 in June.

Windows Hello on any PC and more

Windows Hello is Microsoft’s version of Face ID on the iPhone, although Hello also incorporates other biometric tech like fingerprint readers. If you’ve got a laptop with a Windows Hello webcam, you’ll know that it ‘just works’. But you need to have a Windows Hello-capable device. It’s been long-rumoured that Microsoft is working on a camera to bring Windows Hello support to PCs that don’t have it. Could we get that in 2020?

Also we wonder if Microsoft will launch more headphones in 2020. Microsoft’s Surface Headphones were well-received and its Surface Buds – true wireless earphones – will belatedly launch in the Spring. Could we see some more work in this area?

Writing by Dan Grabham.