Microsoft Announces Surface Tablet [Updated]

After much cloak-and-dagger-style secrecy, Microsoft today unveiled two Microsoft Surface tablets — 9.3mm thin devices powered by Windows RT and Windows 8.

The first device, called the Surface for Windows RT, is designed to be super-thin with beveled edges, a magnesium case and has a USB 2.0 port on board. The two tablets will run a series of apps specifically designed for it, including Xbox and Netflix (for the US-only, of course), complete with a link to the Windows application store. We also know that it's covered in Corning's Gorilla Glass 2.

The device will come with a super-thin kickstand that connects using magnets to keep the device level for desk-based media consumption, and it also acts like a cover and a multitouch keyboard. That's impressive.

Microsoft demonstrated a full-version of Office for the ARM-powered Windows RT Surface tablet during the keynote, before calling the device "a great choice for professionals".

The company wasn't done with surprises though, unveiling a second Surface tablet — dubbed Surface for Windows 8 Pro — running a third-generation Intel Core i5 (Ivy Bridge) chip for full Windows 8 support. The Intel tablet comes with a stylus that magnetically clips to the side of the device and the tablet itself supports digital ink.

For the Intel-powered surface, Microsoft gave users the same multi-touch keyboard they had on for the ARM-powered Windows RT Surface, before adding another Type Cover which integrates the screen cover with a physical keyboard and touchpad.

Microsoft was cagey with pricing and availability details, saying that the Surface tablet for Windows RT will priced the same as other ARM-powered tablets, while the Surface for Windows 8 Pro tablet will be priced like an ultrabook. The ARM tablet will launch with Windows 8, which is rumoured to be around October, while the Intel tablet will come three months later.

"With Windows 8, we don't want to leave any scene uncovered...we wanted to give Windows 8 its own companion hardware innovation...something new, something different," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said before announcing the the Surface tablets.

Steve Ballmer opened the event by talking up change in the technology landscape over the last few years, citing cloud computing as one of the big drivers for change. He added, however, that "Windows is the heart and soul" of Microsoft's business. The pre-announcement bragfest went on, with Ballmer saying that Windows powers over a billion computers worldwide. Windows 8, Ballmer said, would serve as a reimagination of the Windows product, citing IDC figures stating that 375 million PCs would ship this year alone.

The exuberant executive moved into a conversation about mobility, admitting that the future of the PC is mobile, before breaking into a retrospective video about Microsoft hardware dating back to the 1980s, right through to the Xbox and Kinect before toasting to the next 30 years of products.

Ballmer said that the most successful piece of Microsoft hardware has in fact been the Xbox line of products, saying that a combination of hardware and software all built by the company is key to its success.

There was a lot of build up to the event over the last week, with rumours circulating that US book retailer Barnes and Noble were involved in the announcement. The book chain came out and denied the rumours this morning, however, saying that it was in no way connected with Microsoft.

Specifications

Surface for Windows RT

Screen 10.6-inch ClearType HD Display
CPU ARM processor
RAM TBA
Camera TBA
Storage 32GB, 64GB, Expandable Storage TBA
Connectivity TBA, 2x2 MIMO Antennae
Weight 676g
Price TBA

Surface for Windows 8 Pro

Screen 10.6-inch ClearType HD Display
CPU Intel 3rd Generation Core i5 (Ivy Bridge)
RAM TBA
Camera TBA
Storage 64GB, 128GB, Expandable Storage TBA
Connectivity TBA, 2x2 MIMO Antennae
Weight 903g
Price TBA

MORE: What Is Your Next Tablet? 45 Tablets Compared.

Images: Getty/Kevork Djansezian


Comments

    Really like this Surface, the screen could be larger, i5 model look good for me, look forward to release and some real reviews. Mac vs Microsoft is so over-rated, if you don't like Microsoft why bother looking at the article.

    woah im really not a tablet fan but that is a hot piece of kit!

    http://i3.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/000/264/241/9e9.gif

    SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

    interesting it has a stand, and keyboard, cool, sort of laptop, but most likely can't use it on a train. That's a mod idea.

    Passed on Pad1,2 & 3, and probably a good thing.

    Microsofts Surface............. We can charge your iphone while it backup to our Surface. All apple products are boring and have been for awhile this looks awesome and all those people saying windows 8 is just a tablet OS ......YES YES IT IS thats the whole reason why it was made. Win 7 has heaps of life left for the desktop but the main reason win 8 was made was for tablets and mums and dads PCs. I will be one of them for sure.... WHO wants to buy a ipad I cant even watch a movie on it with out going through all this bull sh1t of changing the format ...and I own the digital copy of it.....

      actually, you can put any movie in any format on the ipad dullard. It's a matter of buying a 99c app that plays anything. I do on mine all the time. It's called "it's playing" and it plays bloody everything.

      If you're going to comment on what an iPad can and cant do, make sure you're definite it can and cant do these things before talking crap.

    I LOL'd at the presentation where it freezes, right as he says you can smoothly surf the net or whatever. Jeez MS, if you're going to present something, make sure it works first and be sure that the keyboard you're presenting is also able to be tested out by patrons, not a "concept idea"

    Typical MS crap. Buggy, Freezy and above all, late to the game. Bravo.

    I think this would be a great option for the underfunded university student who wants expandability and freedom from apple restrictions such as iTunes (sorry, big fan of drag and drop.)
    Also the features of HDMI and USB connectivity are fantastic, and absent on the iPad.
    Overall it seems like a much more polished product.
    If the pricetag is around the rumored price for the RT version, Apple will have a serious contender on it's hands.

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