Microsoft announces Windows 8 Tablet called Surface at their mystery event in Los Angeles

The announcement of the two new types of Windows 8 Tablet called Surface by Microsoft

Who says old established corporations are too dogged to learn new things? Microsoft would definitely tell you otherwise, as one thing they’ve appeared to have learned is how to create an amazing amount of buzz for an event dubbed the “Microsoft Mystery Event” in Los Angeles last Friday. They managed to generate a lot of notice, nearly comparable to the hype of the World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC).What did they do with this buzz? They created an even bigger buzz. They announce something that could change the way we work and how we use our computing devices – they announced Microsoft Surface.

Windows 8 Tablet Surface Touch Cover

What is Microsoft’s Surface tablet – is it just a Windows 8 Tablet?

Surface is the new Windows 8 tablet. Actually it’s not a tablet. It’s the range of tablets that runs a version of Windows 8 OS. Microsoft appears to be bringing out two versions of the “Surface” tablet range, one that runs Windows 8 Pro Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor and another that runs Windows 8 RT on Nvidia ARM processor. It’s clear they are separating the devices for two different markets: the Pro version for enterprises and enthusiasts; the RT version for consumers. Click here to find out more about what is Windows 8 RT.

Surface for Windows RT will be in a similar price range of other ARM-tablets, they will have ARM processors in both 32GB and 64GB models. Surface Pro, the model with the Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor comes in 64GB and 128GB models and will be priced on a par with Ultra book-class PCs.

Release of Surface RT will be in line with the Windows 8 launch scheduled sometime this “fall”, whilst the Surface Pro version will come out a few months later.The device itself has a built-in kickstand that pops in and out easily to allow for the device to angle for viewing. Both devices comes with a cover that doubles up as a keyboard for typing input.

Of course there are many existing covers for tablets which already double up as a stand. There are also many third party keyboard/bluetooth devices for other tablets but if Microsoft does this correctly and well, then they have something that could outshine the rest.

Windows 8 Tablet Surface Side View

What does the Microsoft Surface tablet offer?

The Surface will come with Corning Gorilla Glass 2.0, the same glass screen as on a large number of other tablets and mobiles, notably the Nokia Lumia range and Samsung SII and SIII devices. It will support a 10.6-inch display and has an aspect ratio of 16:9. The Surface Pro version will boast a “Full HD display” which I can only assume is a 1080p/1080i whereas the Surface RT version will boast “HD Display” which I assume to be 720p.

The case is magnesium made from a unique process when the metal is molten, at least according to Microsoft. They call this material VaporMg (pronounced Vapor Mag). VaporMg can be moulded down to 0.65mm and the kickstand itself is 0.7mm thick which is thinner than most credit cards!

The device will come with two types of keyboard covers. They are the Touch Cover, a thin keyboard cover, and the Type Cover which is a thicker keyboard cover and gives better tactile feedback. An interesting fact Microsoft have given in regards to the Touch Cover for the Surface tablet is that it’s 3mm thick.Both covers have a magnetic edge for easy attaching and the Touch Cover makes an audible click when attaching and then the Windows 8 background changes colour to let you know it is connected.It also has an accelerometer built in, so it knows when its folded back and it will deactivate the keyboard.

Displayport is supported on the Surface Pro device allowing ease of connectivity to other display devices and is going to be the new standard which is overtaking VGA, DVI and the like. The Surface RT device will support microHDMI.

The Surface tablets have “perimeter venting” for keeping them cool whilst running the ARM or their i5 processors. Well what is perimeter venting you ask? As Microsoft describes, “It’s a groove ringing the whole tablet… You never block it with your hands. You never even feel it”. That sounds pretty cool to me.

Windows 8 Tablet Surface different cover colours

Full Specs for the Microsoft Surface Tablet

Surface for Windows RT

  • OS: Windows RT
  • Light(1): 676 g
  • Thin(2): 9.3 mm
  • Clear: 10.6” ClearType HD Display
  • Energized: 31.5 W-h
  • Connected: microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HDMI Video, 2×2 MIMO antennae
  • Productive: Office ‘15’ Apps, Touch Cover, Type Cover
  • Practical: VaporMg Case & Stand
  • Configurable: 32 GB, 64 GB

Surface for Windows 8 Pro

  • OS: Windows 8 Pro
  • Light(1): 903 g
  • Thin(2): 13.5 mm
  • Clear: 10.6” ClearType Full HD Display
  • Energized: 42 W-h
  • Connected: microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort Video, 2×2 MIMO antennae
  • Productive: Touch Cover, Type Cover, Pen with Palm Block
  • Practical: VaporMg Case & Stand
  • Configurable: 64 GB, 128 GB

You can the details gathered here on the official Microsoft Surface site (www.surface.com or www.microsoft.com/surface).
Windows 8 Tablet Surface stand facing

Thoughts on the Microsoft’s Surface Tablet

We may as well play the comparison game as many see the Surface tablet and RIM’s Playbook in the same category and, of course, who can forget the largest player, the Apple iPad? While you can grab the third party kits such as keyboards or stands for either devices to give the same options for the device, will they work as well as the Surface Tablet?Or maybe we should think about this from a different point of view. Will the Surface work as well as the other devices? Only time will tell how well Microsoft executes the Surface plan and how well the public will take to it.

The main strength of the device will be the large number of machines already running the Windows platform and many users will want ease of interoperability between devices. While the other devices offer a certain level of interoperability, the Surface will surely give a seamless experience being a Microsoft OS but again, only time will tell.

Another indicator of strength is how the application experience will be on the device. iPad has the App store and countless number of apps in its repository but Surface will have Office – the workplace killer app – and a large number of existing x86 applications that already run on a Windows OS not to mention its own version of the App store.

Windows 8 Tablet Surface with stand and touch cover

People are already talking about the Microsoft Surface Tablet and are speculating whether it is or is not the new iPad killer. I say it isn’t an iPad killer. It’s on a different level to the iPad. It doesn’t do just what an iPad does and it doesn’t do just what a laptop does. It does something of an in-between. How well it does it? That should be the question people should be speculating upon. You can find out more information from the Microsoft’s announcement site here.

What are your thoughts on the announcement of the Windows 8 Surface Tablet?

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