October 17, 2012

Everything You Wanted to Know About The Microsoft Surface Tablet

Microsoft Surface is an upcoming series of tablets designed and marketed by Microsoft. It was announced by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at a Los Angeles event on June 18, 2012.
The Surface will be available in two versions, “Surface” and “Surface Pro”. The “Surface” model will run the Windows RT operating system and use an ARM CPU. The “Surface Pro” model will run the Windows 8 Pro operating system and use an Intel CPU. The display is a 10.6 inches (27 cm), 16:9 widescreen HD Display (Surface), or Full HD Display (Surface Pro).

The Coolest Features

VaporMg™ casing
The casing of Surface is created using a unique approach called VaporMg (pronounced Vapor-Mag), a combination of material selection and process to mold metal and deposit particles that creates a finish akin to a luxury watch. Starting with magnesium, parts can be molded as thin as .65 mm, thinner than the typical credit card, to create a product that is thin, light and rigid/strong.

Integrated Kickstand
The unique VaporMg approach also enables a built-in kickstand that lets you transition Surface from active use to passive consumption – watching a movie or even using the HD front- or rear-facing video cameras. The kickstand is there when needed, and disappears when not in use, with no extra weight or thickness.

Windows RT and Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 RT Preview
The fact that you get a full-blown version of Microsoft Office on a tablet is a really good sell. RT will have a slightly stripped down version, but its obvious that Microsoft is pushing the enterprise use cases with this tablet, as I really see this being incredibly useful in IT and office environments.

Front and rear-facing 720p HD video cameras
Surface also has built in HDMI, HD video camera. “If you use your PC to design and create things, this is for you. It’s less than 2 lbs, less than 14mm. It’s a full PC.” The surface also has a great resolution display.

Extremely Durable
Steven Sinofsky, President of the Windows and Windows Live Division, on Twitter showcased that Surface can be converted into a Skateboard and still hold the weight of a whole person!

Below is a comparison of Microsoft Surface to other prominent tablets in the market, right down to the technical specs:

Microsoft has already placed an order for 3 million to 5 million tablets, similar to amount of tablets orders placed for Google’s Nexus 7 tablet and Amazon’s Kindle Fire. There is definitely market demand, but for consumers it may be a tough sell. You are paying $100 extra for the keyboard, and $499 is a very high consumer price point. Another challenge for Microsoft will be making sure the average consumer can differentiate between these tablets and the full Windows 8 experience. In any case, I firmly believe Microsoft is looking at the long tail and business users, as apposed to quick wins in the low end consumer market.

Another challenge is that the tablet is not going to run x86 apps. Right now you’re limited to what’s available in their app store which is comparatively tiny to the x86 app market. Companies have made large investments into Google, Apple and Amazon apps and are not going to be quick to place another investment into a Microsoft market app. Despite the app problem, the focus of Surface is that it is a content-creation tablet, not just a content-consumption one. Even the RT version of Surface has the features for creators to get real things done. Updating your presentation on the go, writing a full proposal for an important client while you are on the jet, or even design a sketch for your new website feature while you are on the coffee shop! Doing all that in iPad or Android tablet is a nightmare.

One exciting part of Microsoft’s Windows RT experience is that it will open up the market for manufacturers that want to create their own Windows RT tablets and devices. This may see a whole new device-agnostic market opening up in competition with Android.

Be sure to check out the first official Surface ad below. It doesn’t show much in terms of features, but is pretty fun to watch:

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  1. Anon October 17, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    “Someone on Twitter showcased that Surface can be converted into a Skateboard and still hold the weight of a whole person!” It was not someone but Steven Sinofsky himself, President of the Windows and Windows Live Division at Microsoft.

  2. Mike October 17, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    Hi Anon, I’ve added the reference :) Thanks for that

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