Announcing: The Microsoft Surface Tablet
On June 18, 2012, Microsoft unveiled its answer to the iPad, as well as the unspoken question, "What are we supposed to do with Windows 8?" The Microsoft Surface tablet is pretty slick, and may set a new standard for the tablet industry. Here’s a first look at the new device...
What is Microsoft Surface?
The Surface prototype shown off by CEO Steve Ballmer looks incredibly cool. Its 10.6 inch display is framed by a black, beveled chassis made of "vapor-deposited magnesium," or VaporMg. A kickstand folds out from the back of the Surface, a simple innovation that has eluded other tablet makers until now. The Surface even comes with a touch-sensitive keyboard that doubles as a display cover, clamping firmly to the display's edges with magnetic fasteners.
If you want to watch the video of Microsoft's hour-long unveiling of the Surface, you can see it here. If you don't have an hour to burn, continue reading here to get the facts without the Redmond hype.
Two versions of Surface will be produced. One will run Windows RT on an ARM processor, while the other will run Windows 8 Pro on an Intel processor. The latter is intended for users who want to run legacy Windows apps; it will include a stylus, too. The RT version of Surface will support 32 or 64 GB of SSD storage, while the Windows 8 Pro version will support 64 or 128 GB.
Surface tablets with Windows RT will include a microSD slot, USB 2.0, and a Micro HD port. The Pro versions will have a microSD card slot, USB 3.0, and Mini Display Port. RT devices will weigh about 1.5 pounds and be about 0.36-inches thick. Surface Pro will weigh closer to two pounds and will be half an inch thick.
The Windows software that you're using on your desktop or laptop PC will not run on Windows RT. You'll have to wait for an RT version of your favorite Windows software packages, do without, or go with the more expensive version of the Surface that runs Windows 8 Pro.
Two types of cover/keyboards will be available for Surface. The Touch Cover's keys have no "give" while the Type Cover's keys give slightly. The Type Cover is aimed at touch typists. You'll have to try it yourself, but Microsoft says these keyboards (which also include a trackpad) will allow you to type twice as fast as you would on a glass surface.
Surface: Availability, Pricing and Controversy
The ARM version of Surface with Windows RT will be available around October, in time for the consumer holiday shopping season, and the business-oriented Windows 8 Pro version will arrive about three months later. Pricing has not been announced, but a Microsoft rep said that the ARM version will be priced similarly to other ARM-based tablets on the market. Based on that, I'd guess at a price tag somewhere in the range of $500 to $600. The Windows 8 Pro version will be priced to be competitive with ultrabooks, so I'd expect that means around $1000.
While the Surface seemed to perform well over WiFi, mobile connectivity specs were conspicuously missing from the Surface announcement. For now, all we know is that the Surface has dual wifi antennas for "the best possible wifi performance." But we'll surely hear more about 3G/4G options as Microsoft closes deals with carriers. The company was also mum about battery life.
Microsoft is running the risk of alienating its hardware partners by releasing hardware of its own. Possibly, Microsoft has not been entirely happy with the tablets its partners have made, and is trying to show them how it should be done. But they're also running the risk of undermining the ultrabook market, while at the same time, courting them to develop hardware to run their flagship Windows 8 software.
Microsoft's track record in hardware has been spotty. The Xbox is a home run with consumers, but the Zune was a foul ball. Will Surface be a grand slam, providing serious competion for the iPad, Kindle Fire and other Android tablets currently on the market?
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome! Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 19 Jun 2012
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Announcing: The Microsoft Surface Tablet (Posted: 19 Jun 2012)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved