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Surface Pro 5 up next? Microsoft teases cover keyboards

Microsoft is expected to reveal its next hybrid tablet-laptop at an event in Shanghai on Tuesday.

Get ready for the next generation of the Surface Pro.
Sarah Tew/CNET

Microsoft changed the way we think about tablets. Can it do that again?

That question is at the heart of Microsoft's upcoming event Tuesday in Shanghai, during which it's been rumored to be announcing a new Surface tablet.

Panos Panay, Microsoft's vice president of devices, pretty much seemed to confirm a new tablet was coming when he tweeted an image late Sunday of four cover keyboards with the words: "Working session. 30 hours to go." It's a not-so-subtle tease that Microsoft is working on the next-generation Surface Pro 5, presumably using new cover keyboards.

The Surface isn't just another computer, however. The tablet-computer hybrid represented a radical new approach in computer designs when it first hit store shelves in 2012. Since then, other companies have followed with competing products, including Apple's iPad Pro -- which even borrowed the keyboard-cover idea from the Surface -- and Google's Pixel C.

Microsoft has since offered new updates, fielding more capable "pro" laptops, as well as the Surface Book, which is more like a laptop than a tablet.

The real question is whether the Surface can become more than that. The Surface drawn attention from tech heavyweights, but it hasn't caught on more broadly with everyday consumers. It's had a string of disappointing sales announcements, though Microsoft continues to add devices to the product line -- most recently with the student-focused Surface Laptop.

Microsoft is widely expected to unveil a new Surface Pro at an event Tuesday in Shanghai. The hybrid tablet-laptop isn't expected to see major changes, as indicated by a leak last week, but you can expect more horsepower at the very least.

Microsoft wasn't immediately available for comment.