Microsoft Announces “Surface” Windows 8 Tablet

| Product News

Microsoft ended hours of speculation Monday by announcing Surface by Microsoft, new Windows 8 tablets the company will develop and manufacture on its own. The device is being introduced in two models, one for Windows RT and one for Windows 8 Pro, and they will be released starting later in 2012.

Surface by Microsoft

Surface for Windows RT

The company made the announcement in Los Angeles on Monday evening in a media event that borrowed several techniques in Apple’s arsenal. Microsoft didn’t tell reporters what would be announced ahead of time, fueling much speculation in the tech blogosphere, and Big Redmond did Apple one better by even hiding where in LA the event would take place until a few hours before it began.

Both models are the embodiment of Microsoft’s stated belief that media tablets should be extensions of the PC and be able to run the same software as a PC. Windows 8 (Windows RT is a Windows 8 variant) and the Metro interface are the company’s attempt to bridge the two paradigms.

Surface by Microsoft

Surface for Windows 8 Pro - This slinky black affair comes with a matching pink keyboard…

Surface for Windows RT is 9.3mm (0.37 inches) thick, and it weighs 676 grams (1.49 pounds). Surface for Windows 8 Pro is heftier, at 13.5mm thick (0.53 inches), with a weight of 903 grams (1.99 pounds). In comparison, Apple’s iPad is 9.4mm (0.37 inches) thick, and it weighs 652 grams (1.44 pounds).

The smaller model will be powered by an ARM processor made by Nvidia, while the Windows 8 Pro model will run an Intel processor. Both versions will feature a—and we’re not making this up—“VaporMG” shell made of magnesium. Microsoft said it will be made using a vapor deposition processor.

Surface for Windows RT will come with either 32GB or 64GB of storage, while the larger model will come with 64GB or 128GB of storage.

The display on both models is 10.6 inches, but the screen on the Windows RT is described as a “ClearType HD Display,” while the Windows 8 Pro model features a, “ClearType Full HD Display.”

Microsoft said that it will be releasing Surface for Windows RT when that OS is released later this year. The company didn’t specify pricing, but said it would be priced similarly to other ARM-based media tablet on the market.

Surface for Windows 8 Pro will be released roughly three months later, with pricing more in line with so-called “ultrabooks,” which means it will be competing more with MacBook Air than iPad.

Microsoft’s Specs

OS

Windows RT

Windows 8 Pro

Light(1)

676 g

903 g

Thin(2)

9.3 mm

13.5 mm

Clear

10.6” ClearType HD Display

10.6” ClearType Full HD Display

Energized

31.5 W-h

42 W-h

Connected

microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD Video, 2x2 MIMO antennae

microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort Video, 2x2 MIMO antennae

Productive

Office Home & Student 2013 RT, Touch Cover, Type Cover

Touch Cover, Type Cover, Pen with Palm Block

Practical

VaporMg Case & Stand

VaporMg Case & Stand

Configurable

32 GB, 64 GB

64 GB, 128 GB

1, 2 Actual size and weight of the device may vary due to configuration and manufacturing process

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29 Comments Leave Your Own

nealg

Price not mentioned so it would seem that it was going to be higher than expected so they decided not to mention it.

The other thing not mentioned was battery life. Maybe shorter than expected so they decided not to mention it.

Just reading the description, this would seem to compete more with ultrabooks than with the iPad but it will compete with the iPad, but not if the base version is 200 buck higher than the iPad. It if works as described, it sounds like MSFT may have done a nice job on this. Will just have to see how it all fits together.

Neal

RonMacGuy

Pretty cool looking, but for all that space it is taking up you may as well just buy a MacBook Air.  Keyboard is pretty neat.  Is that a touchpad?

ibuck

Looks like the sum total of Microsoft’s collective imaginative capability went into the cover/keyboard, with none left for the graphics or name.

Why does an image of plaid bermuda shorts and pale white legs with black socks come to mind?

skipaq

Looks like an interesting take on a tablet. Price will be important. The touchpad plus keyboard cover is a really good idea.

Lee Dronick

I am looking forward to trying one to see how it compares.

I am sure that MicroSoft doesn’t care too much about my opinion, but I think that having just one OS would be better.

Why does an image of plaid bermuda shorts and pale white legs with black socks come to mind?

Because you used the satellite view in Google Maps to look into my backyard. smile

d'monder

Interesting concept.  Will have to see it in person.

That said, is anyone else getting the gut feeling that it’s missing… something?

Lee Dronick

You know what is missing D’Monder? The original MicroSoft Surface, that big table thing, they renamed it PixelSense

John Molloy

“1, 2 Actual size and weight of the device may vary due to configuration and manufacturing process”

Says it all. they have no idea what this is going to cost or sell for.

They are playing from the Microsoft playbook of years ago:

“Don’t buy Apple stuff, we have shiny stuff over here, look at us, we’re Microsoft and we have shiny stuff”

GinKo

The VaporMG is interesting. Vapor deposition of Magnesium is usually only used because the base metal magnesium alloy doesn’t have particularly good corrosion resistance. Hence the deposition of high purity Magnesium in a really thin layer.

I don’t think that the whole case is vp’d, that’d be just nuts. But the verbiage on the MS website implies otherwise.

jfbiii

The name is probably the “most right” thing about it, IMO. That kickstand has the potential to be a complete fail. How easy is it to bend that thing just a little bit and have it never fit right ever ever ever again?

It must have a fan, otherwise why the unblock-able vents? I wonder if it has asymmetric blades. And why not post the creation video? That actually sounded cool, if derivative.

I’m interested to see one. I’m interested to see their partners reactions.

Lee Dronick

Is that a rear facing camera?

Answered my own question, yes it has fore and aft cameras. Teach me not to read far enough on the product website.

wab95

Okay, Bryan, I’ll bite.

MS are now officially selling ‘vapour-ware’.

That said, despite their being late to tablet table, given their instal-base, they remain a competitor to be taken seriously. We have yet to see consumer reaction to, and market effect of, their new OS. The tablets, though not beautiful, appear to be functional.

In my view, whether MS succeed or fail with their offerings will be subject to the same forces that doomed the Zune; namely the ecosystem. Is this an integrated component of a whole solution to an evolving problem of how to manage and utilise our data, of any kind, in a way that minimise inconvenience but maximises productivity and satisfaction - in a word - provides the ‘best in class’ user experience.

For MS, given its instal base, it may not even need to achieve ‘best in class’ performance, so long as it is not substantially inferior to Apple (or Google - but Google struggle on the tablet front).

‘Good enough’ may be just good enough to purchase new life for MS, and stanch the haemorrhage, even if only for awhile.

mrmwebmax

+

I have to wonder at how one is supposed to interact with the thing. Looking at the Win RT model with the blue keyboard, will users need to both use the keyboard and interact with the touch screen at the same time? That sounds like an ergonomic nightmare.

geoduck

A production unit in the hand
is worth two mock-ups in Marketing.

I’ll refrain all judgement until this hits the streets and places like PCWorld, CNET, and TMO get to take it for a spin.

Lee Dronick

Mrmgraphics, from what I understand it uses both touch screen or keyboard.

I am with Geoduck, we need to wait and see. However, this guy already loves it.

ctopher

In general, this looks like a cool device.

What really disappoints me however is that Microsoft did not follow Apple’s script to the letter. How cool would it have been if Mr. Ballmer started the presentation talking about Windows 8… then revealed a brand new Internet Explorer for Windows 8 that takes advantage of multi-touch and tablets, Then build up the excitement with a wicked cool version of Office, Outlook and Excel with flying tabs or whatever and then… one more thing… Microsoft’s Surface Tablet!

That would have been cool. Then he could have the audience over the moon when he says “And it’s available on-line right now and in the stores tomorrow!”

Talk about a shot over the bow!

The one thing a Windows tablet has over all the Android competition is a healthy application eco-system.

Sure they never could have kept it under wraps until it’s all complete, but they sure could have built a buzz!

Anyway, if the iPad is the sports car of Post-PC devices, then the Surface looks like the compact pick-up truck.

I remain skeptical of the keyboard however. It might be really great or it might be the Achilles heel of the whole thing, a lousy mushy, flat mess.

But I’ll definitely stop into Best Buy to check one out!

John Molloy

But I?ll definitely stop into Best Buy to check one out!

Except you won’t be able to. Microsoft are only selling them online and in their stores.

Basically this is a Windows Ultrabook with a soft foldable keyboard and trackpad.

Kevin

Correct me if i’m wrong but isn’t the point of a tablet not to use a keyboard? I dont know about this one. I’m usually pretty open to whatever microsoft brings out being a mac user primarily, but i just think their just dragging on the coat tails of apple. If it wasn?t for the ipad there would have been only an announcement for windows 8.

I know apple wasn?t the first to try and bring out a tablet. Microsoft went down that road once before and it wasn’t a rousing success. To me it just feels like and other laptop wich isn’t what a tablet should feel like.

BlueDjinn

The keyboard-on-the-cover is an interesting idea, and they deserve kudos for coming up with something new for once.

HOWEVER, you’d be unable to use a soft keyboard on your lap or in bed, which means the only time you could use it would be at an actual desk or table…in which case you’d be better off using an actual hard keyboard with tactile feedback, etc.

As for the kickstand, that’s actually a good idea *if* it’s sturdy enough not to break or wobble. The only complaint that my wife has about her iPad is that the smart cover is too unstable when used as a vertical stand (ie, the rolled-up triangle setup).

RonMacGuy

What really disappoints me however is that Microsoft did not follow Apple?s script to the letter.

Don’t forget the video of the guy with an accent talking about the design. Perhaps a Scotsman instead of a British guy, since we all know from Star Trek that the best engineers are Scottish.

(Sounding like Scotty from Start Trek) “Wot’s amazin aboot the Surface is how mooch engineerin went into it. It’s like the kickstand is built right into the back. It actually folds flush with the device. And the keybrd attaches to the side of the device (with magnets, perhaps?!?).  It’s like they are made fer each odder.  And, it’s powered with di-lithium crystals for a 20 year battery life between charges.”

Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.  grin

That kickstand has the potential to be a complete fail. How easy is it to bend that thing just a little bit and have it never fit right ever ever ever again?

No kidding. With my kids, it would be broken off or at least bent within a week. I’m sure it latches somehow with a click when folded in, but any amount of tweak or bend and it would forever not click in anymore and just walking around with it would have the kickstand continually flopping around.

But hey, I hope it works well and starts to suck share from the android garbage tablets that are out there.

Lee Dronick

HOWEVER, you?d be unable to use a soft keyboard on your lap or in bed, which means the only time you could use it would be at an actual desk or table?in which case you?d be better off using an actual hard keyboard with tactile feedback, etc.

There may be longitudinal stiffeners similar to Apple’s iPad cover so the keyboard might be usable, but how well and even if, remains to be seen. I guess you can always use the touch screen.

Don?t forget the video of the guy with an accent talking about the design.

I just went to the Surface webpage, the link to video there is “Coming Soon.” As Ctopher said they could have rolled this thing out better. I can’t help but think that the day the Surface goes on sale that Apple will announce the new iPad, “On sale right now”, and it will be miles ahead of the competition. Don’t show your cards until the betting is complete.

Except you won?t be able to. Microsoft are only selling them online and in their stores.

There is a MicroSoft Store here in San Diego so I will be able to examine a Surface when they go on sale. I am not sure of the wisdom of not selling it through other resellers.

I wish them well, competition is good.

mrmwebmax

+

Mrmgraphics, from what I understand it uses both touch screen or keyboard.

I am with Geoduck, we need to wait and see. However, this guy already loves it.

Interesting, the thought of interacting with the screen when the kickstand is in use. MS had better make the thing extremely stable, else I could easily see where touching the screen too hard would collapse it backwards.

The keyboard cover is a nice feat of engineering, but the ergonomics of bouncing between the screen and keyboard still don’t strike me as ideal.

RonMacGuy

Lots of talk about the keyboard and kickstand.  What’s interesting to me is that Apple focused on and came out with the iPad and basically let the world work out the Bluetooth keyboards/cases/stands/etc.  There are now hundreds and hundreds of third party devices to interact with the iPad.  Yet Microsoft feels it necessary to build in a kickstand and its own keyboard.  No criticism I guess, just an interesting approach.

I suspect there are similar keyboards that are made for the iPad that are thin, soft, act as a cover or are part of the case, etc.  Don’t really know, as I am fine using the on-screen keyboard on my iPad.  But if I really needed it, I could easily research and find one to my liking, as well as a case that has a kick-stand in it.

One criticism I guess - by building the kickstand into the device itself, Microsoft is begging for tons of returns, repairs, etc.  And where is the warranty line drawn?  Fine line between “my kid sat on it with the kickstand out and broke it” and “I was just typing away on it and the kickstand bent and collapsed backward.”  I suspect they will think differently about it and not release the final product to consumers with the stand.  My guess - it will look more like, hmm, an iPad.

Speaking of which, one interesting note is if you look at the Apple iPad Accessories page (iPad Accessories) the choice of blue and pink keyboards in the pics above are nearly the same exact shade of blue and pink as are in the iPad smart covers, except the iPad covers are much more muted whereas the Microsoft keyboards are much brighter/bolder.  I wonder if there will be gray and green options as well.  What’s the sincerest form of flattery again?!?!?

Lee Dronick

Lots of talk about the keyboard and kickstand.? What?s interesting to me is that Apple focused on and came out with the iPad and basically let the world work out the Bluetooth keyboards/cases/stands/etc.? There are now hundreds and hundreds of third party devices to interact with the iPad.? Yet Microsoft feels it necessary to build in a kickstand and its own keyboard.? No criticism I guess, just an interesting approach.

A lot of small businesses make money off of the iPad and iPhone.

Jamie

So . . . their tablet is a laptop? The appeal of this as a tablet device is eluding me, it’s innovative how, exactly? I’m having a hard time differentiating it from already-existing touch capable PCs. Throw in a mouse and you pretty much have a regular computer, and those machines are no fun to navigate via their vertical screens. Hell, even the original Big Ass Surface is at least at an ergonomically correct angle.

iOS devices are useful to me in their simplicity, not for all the junk I have to attach to them to make them useful. If I wanted to lug around a laptop, I’d lug around a laptop, and it would be a MacBook Pro.

Fail, Redmond.

davidneale

Don?t forget the video of the guy with an accent talking about the design. Perhaps a Scotsman instead of a British guy

The Scots are British, and I speak as a Welshman, sadly also classified as British. What neither a Scotsman nor a Welshman is, is English, of course (an Englishman also being British, all the same).

Make a Venn diagram illustrating this concept.

davidneale

I suspect there are similar keyboards that are made for the iPad that are thin, soft, act as a cover or are part of the case, etc.? Don?t really know, as I am fine using the on-screen keyboard on my iPad.? But if I really needed it, I could easily research and find one to my liking, as well as a case that has a kick-stand in it.

Absolutely. And what is really nice about the iPad’s keyboard is that it changes, either automatically through an app to provide specific functions, or on user request (I use Belgian and Spanish keyboard layouts, for example).

mjkphoto

Until voice recognition software is standard (and useable) on all tablets, a keyboard is necessity. Remember the Apple Newton???? Great handheld. The Newton Keyboard made it better. Too bad Mr. Jobs didn’t have faith in it. Mistake. The iPad is larger than the Newton 2000.

I think this Microsoft Tablet may be a winner. Fold back the keyboard/cover when you want a tablet, fold out the keyboard when you want to do some serious writing. Makes applications much more robust, for those of us who use a computer for more than just web surfing and texting.

The Kindle Fire is a nice device, for what it is: a book reader, video viewer, email/web browser. It comes with an Office app, which is all but useless without a keyboard - catch that, all but useless for document creation without a keyboard. With a MacBook Air, one doesn’t need an iPad.

I wish Microsoft all the luck with their new device. Apple needs someone to knock them down a few pegs.

Paul Goodwin

Jamie. I agree. The keyboard and kickstand are counter to the beauty of a tablet’s simplicity. I repeat myself here, but 90% of the time I’m using an iPad it’s on my legs. The external keyboard and kickstand would just be extra weight and volume and completely useless….it’s a cheesy laptop. Their focus group on what this thing should be had blurry vision. If people really want the extras, they can buy them.

And Lee. I still have my System 7 disks too. 6.0.4 too I think, and an SE to put them in…oh, and a PowerBook 540c.

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