Microsoft just announced Microsoft Surface Earbuds, to go alongside their over ear headphones.
- Gesture controls
- Dual directional mic array with noise reduction
- Charging case giving up to 24 hours battery life
- “Office 365 Integration” (the video example is apparently taping them to move PowerPoint slides forward)
Available later this year starting at $249.
The Keynote demo showed speech to text in PowerPoint. That’s more a feature of PowerPoint and Office 365 than the earbuds. In the keynote and the marketing videos, the Microsoft Teams logo is flashed up.
However, like the surface over-ear headphones, it looks like they will not be Microsoft Teams certified.
The key reason being wireless headsets or earbuds need a USB dongle to meet the current certification requirements. Microsoft and headset vendors say the Bluetooth chips/stack in most laptops is not “voice grade”/good enough quality. Therefore the dongle handles the Bluetooth and to the PC its a USB device.
Today the Jabra’ 65t earbuds are certified for Microsoft Teams, but they do ship with a USB dongle
I still don’t fully understand the technicalities of this, the Bluetooth in phones and iPads seems to be ok for voice quality. If any experts want to enlighten me please do, I would love to do a deeper blog on this.
In the Surface’s case, Microsoft owns the PC/laptop hardware, could they not put the best Bluetooth technology in the devices? Even if they were only certified in combination with Surface hardware that might be interesting.
For now, if you want certified buds, the Jabra 655’s are the best option to look at.