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Microsoft Surface Tablets - What They Are And What Is The Difference Between The Windows RT And Windows 8 Pro Models

Updated on July 14, 2012
MIcrosoft Surface
MIcrosoft Surface | Source

What is Microsoft Surface?

The new Microsoft Surface is neither a software product, nor a big touchscreen table, as we've come to expect from Microsoft, but a new line of hardware and more specifically tablets or tablet PCs. This is Microsoft's answer to the iPad and the wide range of Android tablets available from a wide selection of manufacturers that are currently dominating the tablet market segment. With this bold move Microsoft would like to disrupt the industry and become a leading tablet manufacturer, also providing a good share and standing for their new operating system that could work for both conventional x86 personal computers and ARM-based mobile devices that have recently grown in popularity. So let's look at the two devices.

Both of the devices have similar looks and their main external features are the same. Both models have magnesium bodies that are very sturdy and scratch and fingerprint resistant with the amazingly hard to damage Gorilla Glass 2 covering their screens, which have been said to showcase great viewing angles. Both devices have a clever and useful kickstand on the back side which can make them very comfortable to use and both models can take advantage of two types of magnetic keyboard and track pad covers - one which is fully multitouch and another that has conventional three dimensional keys that some of us seem to always crave and need in order to be productive. The Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro is a bit thicker than the Microsoft Surface Windows RT, but this is because it packs a lot more bang. The Windows RT model is going to sport an ARM-based CPU manufactured by nVidia, which would limit the Windows 8 experience to the mobile styled Metro interface. On the other hand the Windows 8 Pro version would sport a fully functional Ivy Bridge ultrabook grade CPU manufactured by Intel, which would provide it with a lot more processing power and the ability to run both interfaces, supported by Microsoft's new operating system Windows 8 - both desktop and Metro. So let’s look into each device in a bit more detail.

The new Microsoft Surface with an army of interchangable keyboards
The new Microsoft Surface with an army of interchangable keyboards | Source

Mircosoft Surface

Spec
Parameter
Processor
nVidia Tegra-based ARM chip
Display
10.6 inch; ClearType HD capacitive touchscreen
OS
Windows RT
Internal Memory
32GB / 64 GB
Thickness
9.3mm
Weight
676g
Bettery
31.5Wh
Accessories
Touch Cover, Type Cover, VaporMg Case & Stand
Intup / Output
microSD, USB 2.0, HDMI, 2x2 MIMO antennae
Availability
together with Windows 8 in fall 2012

Microsoft Surface running Windows RT

The Windows RT model which will probably be known as simply Microsoft Surface is going to run on an nVidia-manufactured ARM-based CPU like most of the modern tablets, manufactured by mobile phone makers with the biggest names in the segment currently being the Apple iPad, all the Samsung Galaxy Tab models, the Acer Transformer series and the cheaply-priced Kindle Fire with very few other brands being able to make a dent.

Microsoft are hoping that this interesting new design, the abundance of color options and the innovative accessories are going to make this model stand out as a media consumption, internet surfing and gaming platform that is going to give their current competition a serious run for their money. If the pricing is the same and Microsoft manages to make enough applications available to make this well-designed product more useful, it has a serious chance of following the surging success of the Kindle Fire in gaining significant market share. For now things are unclear since the Microsoft Phone strategy hasn't yet panned out as they were hoping in their partnership with Nokia. The Redmond giant is surely hoping that this new venture into manufacturing will finally make them as big in mobile computing as they are in desktops.

The new Microsoft Surface Pro with the simple but innovative photo-frame style kickstand
The new Microsoft Surface Pro with the simple but innovative photo-frame style kickstand | Source

Microsoft Surface Pro

Spec
Parameter
Processor
Intel Core i5 (Ivy Bridge)
Display
10.6” ClearType Full HD Display
OS
Windows 8 Pro
Internal Memory
64 GB / 128 GB
Thickness
13.5mm
Weight
903g
Battery
42Wh
Accessories
Touch Cover, Type Cover, VaporMg Case & Stand, Pen with Palm Block
Input / Output
microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, 2x2 MIMO antennae
Availability
3 months after Windows 8 launch

More promotional photographs

Lookin almost like a laptop
Lookin almost like a laptop | Source
The devices slick design from the side
The devices slick design from the side | Source
And another color option
And another color option | Source
No keyboard
No keyboard | Source

Microsoft Surface running Windows 8 Pro

While it's younger brother with ARM circuitry is going to be battling in the mobile computing tablet segment, the Microsoft Surface Pro version is going to try and produce the long-awaited and hyped about tablet/laptop hybrid that is supposed to disrupt the whole market. It is going to try to position itself in the ultrabook segment specification-wise, but is going to try to differentiate itself by its dual nature. It is not going to be a tablet with detachable keyboard and it's not going to be a full on laptop (or ultrabook) with a touchscreen.

The operating system that Microsoft have planned for it has one crucial advantage over the competitors. It can run as a touchscreen device only with its dedicated Metro style user interface, while it can also run the full desktop version of Redmond's new OS - Windows 8. For people that require flexibility and are not deterred by larger size and weight, this might be a great purchase that would solve their mobile computing problems.

The competitiveness of this device is questionable in it would be really interesting to see how much customer attention it would get. It is innovative and interesting, but it might turn out to be too much of a hybrid and people sticking to their "old-school" ultrabooks, laptops and tablets. It's also questionable if software developers would be support the system well enough for this device to become the new iPad killer. One thing is certain though, this would be no flop and it will certainly influence the way we view mobile computing in the future.

The release of Windows 8 is actually putting Microsoft in a much better position to compete for mobile, tablets and even a minor resurgence of the PC market.

Surface by Microsoft Promo Clip

Comments

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    • Distant Mind profile imageAUTHOR

      Distant Mind 

      6 years ago

      I think the Surface Pro will practically be a ultrabook with a detachable keyboard and a touchscreen. The question is if it will be a powerful one, or a mediocre one. My guess goes to relatively powerful one that would be able to replace most people's laptops. But we'll only know for sure, when the specs get announced.

    • Distant Mind profile imageAUTHOR

      Distant Mind 

      6 years ago

      You are right. We really need to wait and see how things will pan out. I think it's interesting.

    • James McCullough profile image

      James McCullough 

      6 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

      The journalists only had roughly 90 seconds to handle the Surface, weren't allowed to use the keyboard, or really do much at all. The Pro version is going to be running the Windows 8 apps, which developers will be building for. I think the big key is how the keyboard works, whether it will have 3/4G access and the price. If it's priced below the iPad, it's going to do very well.

    • Distant Mind profile imageAUTHOR

      Distant Mind 

      6 years ago

      Well, there are already hands-on reviews, but things aren't really fully operational yet. In the end, we all know what the Metro interface is and it hasn't really changed. What is going to make or break this tablets is the ecosystem's ability to provide the user with third party apps. If they don't manage to do that, the iPad will stay on top.

    • James McCullough profile image

      James McCullough 

      6 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

      Sure looks like a compelling product to me. Wish there were more details about it and hand's on reviews. Hopefully, Microsoft will allow people to play with them more in the near future.

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