Yesterday evening happened what everybody was expecting, at an event in Hollywood, Microsoft unveiled "Surface", the company's very own tablet PCs which will be available in two configurations: With Windows 8 and with Windows RT. Company executives around Steve Ballmer showed the two Windows tablets and accessories that feature significant advances in industrial design and attention to detail. According to the presentation, Surface is designed to seamlessly transition between consumption and creation, without compromise. It delivers the power of amazing software with Windows and the feel of premium hardware in one exciting experience.
Conceived, designed and engineered entirely by Microsoft employees, and building on the company's 30-year history manufacturing hardware, Surface represents a unique vision for the seamless expression of entertainment and creativity.
Extensive investment in industrial design and real user experience includes the following highlights:
- Software takes center stage: Surface sports a full-sized USB port and a 16:9 aspect ratio – the industry standard for HD. It has edges angled at 22 degrees, a natural position for the PC at rest or in active use, letting the hardware fade into the background and the software stand out.
- VaporMg: 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.
- Touch Cover: The 3 mm Touch Cover represents a step forward in human-computer interface. Using a unique pressure-sensitive technology, Touch Cover senses keystrokes as gestures, enabling you to touch type significantly faster than with an on-screen keyboard. It will be available in a selection of vibrant colors. Touch Cover clicks into Surface via a built-in magnetic connector, forming a natural spine like you find on a book, and works as a protective cover. You can also click in a 5 mm-thin Type Cover that adds moving keys for a more traditional typing feel.
Two models of Surface will be available: One running a SoC ARM processor featuring Windows RT, and one with a third-generation Intel Core processor featuring Windows 8 Pro:
Surface for Windows RT
- OS: Windows RT
- Light: 676 g
- Thin: 9.3 mm
- Clear: 10.6" ClearType HD Display
- Energized: 31.5 W-h
- Connected: microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD Video, 2x2 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: 903 g
- Thin: 13.5 mm
- Clear: 10.6” ClearType Full HD Display
- Energized: 42 W-h
- Connected: microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort Video, 2x2 MIMO antennae
- Productive: Touch Cover, Type Cover, Pen with Palm Block
- Practical: VaporMg Case & Stand
- Configurable: 64 GB, 128 GB
One of the strengths of Windows is its extensive ecosystem of software and hardware partners, delivering selection and choice that makes a customer's Windows experience uniquely their own. This continues with Surface. Microsoft is delivering a unique contribution to an already strong and growing ecosystem of functional and stylish devices delivered by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to bring the experience of Windows to consumers and businesses around the globe.
Surface for Windows RT will release with the general availability of Windows 8, and the Windows 8 Pro model will be available about 90 days later. Both will be sold in the Microsoft Store locations in the U.S. and available through select online Microsoft Stores.
While no prices were given, at yesterday's presentation, it was said that the Windows RT will be priced "like comparable tablets based on ARM" while the Windows 8 version "will be priced on par with Ultrabook-class PCs"; whatever this means.
Unfortunately it sounds like, that a worldwide launch isn't planned for the initial release, giving OEMs the chance to sell their Windows 8 and Windows RT tablet outside North America. However, only time will tell if customers will understand the concept of two identical looking tablets with two identical looking OS which have different features sets and prices.
And, to keep rumors ongoing, a final question is left: Is Microsoft also considering a "Surface Windows Phone" which would be the Zune Phone or Xbox Phone as rumored and speculated all the time since Windows Phone 7 was announced; and even before? If Windows Phone 8 is really that close to Windows RT, it wouldn't be a big step for Microsoft and since yesterday, Redmond has a new brand it could use for such a phone - Surface!
Cheers ~ Arne