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New Microsoft Surface - Windows Tablet

Updated on July 24, 2012

A New Tablet

The Microsoft Surface is a new tablet computer that was announced June 18, 2012 at a small media gathering in Los Angeles. Steve Ballmer gave the keynote to introduce the product, followed by a brief question and answer period for journalists to get more details and to look at the devices on their own. There are very few hands-on reviews currently, but the information below will be updated as more information is released into the wild.

Microsoft Surface is scheduled to be released later this year, with a Pro version coming in early 2013.

No prices have been released for it as of yet, but below is what we do know about it. You can download the full spec sheet if you want more details.

At the very bottom are quotes and links to some of the major tech journalists writing about the Surface and its impact. Be sure to read through some of them.

We believe that any intersection between human and machine can be made better when hardware and software are considered together.

This combination of hardware and software works together to deliver an amazing experience.

We see that combination working in our PC ecosystem. We believe in the strength of that ecosystem. Of software and hardware partners working together. Those are essential to the re-imagining of Windows.

- Steve Ballmer, from the keynote.

The Specs

The Microsoft Surface is going to come in two different versions, Surface RT and Windows 8 Pro. The differences between the two are mainly under the cover, the processor chips being used.

The Surface RT is being powered by an ARM chip, and will be running Windows RT (the so-far unreleased version of Windows 8). The RT is 9.3mm thin, weighs 1.5 pounds. The RT will come with either 32GB or 64GB of storage, and will feature a 10.6" ClearType HD display. The resolution is currently unknown. Both the RT and the Windows 8 Pro Surface tablets will come with a built-in kickstand to help support the device on a flat surface. For connections, it will feature: microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD Video, and have a 2x2 MIMO antennae.

The Windows 8 Pro Surface tablet will be using Intel's Ivy Bridge chip, and be running Windows 8 Pro as an operating system. It will be slightly thicker at 13.5mm and weight 1.9 pounds. The storage space will either be 64GB or a 128GB hard drive. The display is to be a ClearType Full HD screen - again, no screen resolution is known at this time. For its connections, it will feature: microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort Video, and the 2x2 MIMO antennae.

Both versions of Surface have two cameras - rear and front facing. The rear-facing camera is angled at 22 degrees, so when you have the kickstand open, you can rest the Surface on a table and record a live meeting. There are stereo speakers and dual microphones which help you sound much better and are optimized to work with Skype.

Touch and Type Cover

The Surface tablet is going to include the option for two different covers, which include a full-size keyboard.

The Type Cover is going to be a full keyboard that is only 5mm thick. When the keys are pressed, they will only depress slightly, but still be more tactile than a full virtual keyboard on a screen.

The Touch Cover is going to be a full keyboard that is 3mm thick. It is completely multi-touch, includes a touch pad, and will use pressure sensitive technology which will improve upon the speed of your typing.

Both keyboards will also feature a small touchpad at the bottom of the keyboard rows, connect to the Surface tablet by a magnetic connection, and come in a variety of colours. There is no information available as of yet as to whether the keyboards are included with the Surface or come at an additional cost.

Thoughts on Surface

And yet, despite all these unknowns, I’m already deeply smitten. Not because the Surface is so great—though it seems like it might be—but because it represents a new and potentially powerful force in the tech industry. For the first time in its history, Microsoft is taking PC hardware as seriously as it does software. The software giant is coming around to a maxim that archrival Steve Jobs always held dear—that the best technologies come about from the tight integration of code and manufacturing, and that no company can afford to focus on just one half of that equation.

- Farhad Manjoo, Why I Love Surface | Slate

A shift can be seen in Windows as well, With RT, Microsoft is leaving the legacy desktop behind, except as a thin shell in which to run Office. If Office was fully ready for Metro, I think that the Desktop would be 100 percent gone. (Of course, as both are built by the same company, I do have to raise an eyebrow at my own theory.) The company isn’t letting third-party developers get to anything except metro on the ARM-based RT platform.
Stephen Hackett, Microsoft's Shift | 512 Pixels
Although the Surface looks like an elegant device, Forrester Research analyst Sarah Rotman Epps criticized Microsoft for not using attention focused on Monday's announcement to highlight some of the reasons that it might be a better option than the iPad. For instance, she thinks Microsoft could have shown how its video calling service, Skype, will work on Surface or how people might be able to use its motion-control sensor, Kinect, on the tablet.
- Ryan Nakashima, Microsoft's Surface Tablet Aims For Productivity (site not available)
In enterprise, Apple is David. The Goliath in enterprise that is Microsoft wants Apple’s market in mobile enterprise. Apple hasn’t entrenched itself nearly deep enough in enterprise. Microsoft has the ability to successfully corner the mobile enterprise market just as it has with the desktop enterprise market. Goliath is bringing the Surface to the table and inside of the enterprise market, it has a fighting chance of succeeding.
- Justin Watt, Goliath Wants David's Market

In fact, the entire tablet was designed in-house by Microsoft’s teams, and if you believe what was said in the presentation yesterday, design and functionality in hardware has suddenly become a big deal in Redmond.

That’s a big shift, and it’s an important one. The announcement of the Surface shows that Microsoft is ready to make a break with its history — a history of hardware partnerships which relied on companies like Dell, HP, or Acer to actually bring its products to market.

Joshua Topolsky, With the Surface Microsoft just started writing its new chapter

Microsoft this week showed itself willing to do what was once unthinkable: design and sell its own PC hardware. This is a profound change of direction for Microsoft and the entire PC industry. The iPad, however, has been out for so long and has been so successful that no one seemed shocked by Microsoft’s announcement. But make no mistake: for better or for worse, Surface marks a watershed moment in PC industry history.
John Gruber, Surface: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
So Microsoft faces a dilemma. Their business model of expensive software on cheap hardware is not sustainable. The future is nearly free software integrated into moderately priced hardware.
Horace Dediu, Who Will be Microsoft's Tim Cook?
Using iPads or Tablets for Work

Microsoft Surface Keynote


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    • James McCullough profile image

      James McCullough 5 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

      I'm looking forward to seeing what they can do. I think something else on the market would help drive Apple forward with its development which would encourage Microsoft to keep going. It's a win-win if they can produce a reliable product in my opinion.

    • Anjili profile image

      Anjili 5 years ago from planet earth, a humanoid

      I'll wait and see how it performs, then give it a try. I hope it enriches our normal web-based experiences. Thanks for sharing. Voted up

    • James McCullough profile image

      James McCullough 5 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

      I'm starting to read/hear more about how the Surface isn't a direct competitor to the iPad, but will be targeting more corporate people who need a keyboard more. It will be interesting to see what happens when it is released later on.

    • profile image

      jasontoheal 5 years ago

      Im looking forward to getting hold of a Surface to compare it to my iPad. Thanks for posting.