Microsoft unveils anti-iPad tablet Surface
Microsoft today unveiled its new tablet device, the Surface. CEO Steve Ballmer introduced the Surface as part of a “whole new family of devices”, indicating that Microsoft is ready to break into the emerging and lucrative market of mobile computing.
Microsoft announced that there will be two Surface models; one for Windows 8 Pro and the other for Windows RT, which is the ARM-fuelled counterpart. The Pro model packs a more fully-fledged operating system, has a larger battery at 42Wh and customers have the option of 64GB or 128GB storage, which is double the capacity of the RT Surface.
The tablet size is similar to Apple’s latest iPad, which is 9.4mm thick, although Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft’s Windows division, noted the comments on the Surface’s marketable difference from the iPad, calling the Surface a “tablet that’s a great PC – a PC that’s a great tablet”. Sinofsky’s point is supported by the Surface’s kick-out stand, ideal for propping the tablet while watching films and the Surface also comes with a detachable keyboard secured by magnets – something that the iPad is notably lacking.
The Surface’s debut is linked with the release of Microsoft’s much-anticipated Windows 8 operating system, which has been designed with tablets and mobile computing specifically in mind. Although Microsoft has yet to announce a release date for Windows 8, analysts expect the software to come out later this year.
Tech reviewers attending the product launch in Los Angeles commented on how light the device is, speculating that much of the weight is probably made up of the battery and screen. The tablets are made of VaporMg, a light and strong magnesium alloy which accounts for the lightweight feel, and which could be a contributing factor in poaching potential iPad customers who may be tempted by the lighter design. Both Surface models have stereo speakers, twin cameras and dual microphones, and the Windows 8 Pro version supports pen input at 600dpi resolution, meaning you can “write” on the screen, making notes and annotations on documents as needed.
The RT Surface enticingly includes Microsoft Office, with MS Home and Student 2013 pre-installed on the device, providing a practical alternative for customers with tablet requirements aside from power and high screen resolution.
Microsoft has implied that the US release will occur later this year, with the UK release presumably following. They have also promised that the price tag will be similar to the iPad’s, which Apple retails for £329 upwards, depending on the model and storage capacity.