What Is The Microsoft Surface Tablet?

Microsoft doesn't want to take any chances with Windows 8 — if it's going to be the best operating system ever, it's going to need some serious hardware. So Microsoft has built its own tablet. Meet Surface.

MORE: Microsoft Announces Surface Tablet

The Microsoft Surface is a tablet and a PC at the same time...

Microsoft's home-cooked tablet is a very thin cookie: the non-Pro version is only 9.3mm thick (a little less than the iPad), 676g (a little more than iPad), and packs a 10.6-inch, 16:9 "ClearType" 1920x1080 display, available with either 32GB or 64GB of storage. ClearType is definitely aiming for a retina connotation, although Microsoft's screen falls short of Apple's 264 pixels per inch at 208.

Surface packs the usual front-facing and rear-facing cameras, an SD slot, as well as a full-sized USB port, along with some neat tricks: magnesium casing, DisplayPort out, Gorilla Glass, a kickstand (hmm) and a subtle groove around the entirety of the device to help keep the Pro version cool. Microsoft also claims Surface will have the best Wi-Fi reception of any tablet ever, with 2x2 MIMO antennae — wireless antennae that are harder to block while you're holding the tablet.

...that comes in two versions...

This is an ugh! or a yeah! depending on who you are, but Surface, like everything Windows, will come in two flavours. The aforementioned super-skinny variant runs Windows RT on an ARM processor (like the one in your phone or most other tablets), while the Pro version runs an Ivy Bridge Core i5 x86 processor and "ultrabook specs", whatever that means. It'll be a little thicker and heavier, though not by much. The Pro Surface will be available with either 64GB or 128GB of storage.

...that runs Windows 8...

Surface is designed specifically for Windows 8's best tricks: it'll support semantic zoom (awesome!), a stylus (not awesome!), while providing a perfectly super-flat frame for the perfectly super-flat Metro UI. Only the Pro version will run the standard Windows desktop, the full OS, meaning requisite software like Office and Photoshop are on the go with you. The RT brother will only roll with Metro "apps". The Pro should be the best of both computing worlds.

...and uses one of the coolest accessories we've ever seen.

The Surface can be paired with a magnetic cover, just like the iPad's. They come in a Crayola box of colours, just like the iPad's. But the Surface's cover also doubles as a full, extremely thin keyboard and multitouch trackpad, whereas the iPad's is just... a cover. This is a brilliant move on Microsoft's part — one of the most clever things it's ever squeezed out, and something that instantly makes Surface one of the most exciting devices we've eyed in some time. Not just another black rectangle.

Unfortunately, there's no word on pricing just yet (beyond a meaningless claim of "competitive"). Expect to pay tablet-ish prices for the RT version, laptop prices for the Pro version — probably around the MacBook Air range. As far as availability, we only know Windows RT will launch alongside Windows 8, and the Ivy Bridge super-version will follow 90 days later. Hey, look, a company that isn't Apple just built something awesome. [Microsoft]


Comments

    Was the little apple quip at the end really necessary?

    This tablet sounds like another step in the right direction for the technology. I have an Asus Transformer Prime, and despite some unexplained reboots and quite a few programs not responding occasionally, it is a great bit of kit.

    I think the idea of a detachable keyboard is brilliant, and paired with windows, we finally have a hybrid that may have you questioning the need for a laptop.

    Any info on possible battery life?

      Yes. The quip was necessary.

        +1

      yeah i dont think it was either...

      The s3, trasformer prime, asus ultras. all awesome

    It's very impressive and I've excited about this Tablet....until I see the price for it when on sale in Australia.

      And probably at only 4 times the price! :-D

    fingers crossed there's a 3g version. that's the only thing that would hold me back.

      and yes, you can tether but that smashes phone battery...

    No price, solid release date or battery life. The only reason this is happening now is to preempt whatever Google is announcing next week.

      No, it's to kick the other OEM's into innovating more. MS isn't happy with its hardware partners, and showing them they need to step up a gear or two, or MS will kick dirt in their faces as they speed off

    That cover just made me horn for one of these real bad

    Well, this is what Win8 was for. Good to see they're pushing out some matching hardware.

    my big question is, do i get the RT or the Pro.

    ive been looking at getting an ultrabook and i think the pro would give me all the features i needed but in a much fancier package.
    only thing is whats the graphics capability going to be like, id really like to be able to get some non tablet games on the go

      AFAIK very few Ultrabooks have a discrete GPU and the GPU in Ivy Bridge is actually quite adequate for modern games (at 720p, low detail). I don't know what games you want to play but Intel HD4000 will manage the likes of Starcraft 2 just fine.

      I don't want anything less than a 630M, so I doubt the Surface Pro will suit my needs. But with the Type Cover I can see it being a great replacement for most people who use ultrabooks today.

      The consumer is better off getting a RT version, since all you'll do is consuming.
      If you're a professional designer or programmer then you should think about getting the Pro.
      Businesses, on the other hand, must be seriously tempted to buy their employees the Pro version instead of a laptop. Especially if they're a big corporations with mobile workstations already

        Consumers have different needs, it's not just developers of programmers that need some of the higher specifications. What about artists? Vloggers? Video Editors? People who dabble in photoshop, flash, after effects or resource-heavy application use.
        Not to mention light/mobile gamers who want more than just oversized iPhone games?

        Also your grammar is terrible.

    If I can get Managed Exchange on this I'm buying about 5 for my office.

      You can. We will find the idea of an iPad for business a joke once Windows 8 tablets enter the market.

      There are many other benefits to running Windows 8/server 2012 in a company too - http://windowsteamblog.com/windows/b/business/archive/2012/04/18/introducing-windows-8-enterprise-and-enhanced-software-assurance-for-today-s-modern-workforce.aspx

    If it can run windows desktop programs well, then might just buy it. Who needs an apps market when you can just install whatever you use in your PC.

      Developers would be flocking to the marketplace, so your choices in quality apps will be limited if you're looking elsewhere. The marketplace is essential if you're to have a sustainable app development community being paid for their efforts. Apple showed the way with the App Store

    Patent that smart cover ASAP.

      Patent or no Patent, ebay will have iPad/Android versions in no time I am sure.

    I love my iPad but i'm really excited for this, especially being its Microsoft.

    Finally, an iPad that comes with a keyboard, which is portable for home and for meetings. Hopefully Apple didn't already plan for this for their next edition of iPads.

    Personally I think they went in wrong direction. A Microsoft phone woulda been better that docks into a tablet (like asus padphone).

    The stylus is actually quite a big deal in the creative community. A graphics tablet with screen and no processor usually cots upwards of $2000 au. This "Surface for Windows 8 Pro" tablet will offer that at 600dpi (a real, accurate, pointy stylus and not like a terrible capacitive stylus with a big bulging rubber tip that people use on the iPad) that should be super accurate for use in Adobe Illustrator and other digital art apps...it's actually super cool that they are doing this and Gizmodo says "not awesome". Lame. I'm a graphic designer and this is going to be AMAZING for me and the other millions of professional artists/designers.

    Also, the stylus is going to have "Palm Block" - ie. it blocks capacitive input (hands/fingers) when the pen is near the screen.

    In my opinion this is a huge sell point, along with the cool Touch Cover.

    Well I guess it's good to see a tablet OS used for a tablet. Too bad they had to corrupt the desktop OS to foist the same UI on us. Maybe they think every body in the world just browses, chats or plays angry birds on their PC and doesn't do real work.

    Too bad the full HD version is only for Ivy Bridge. Not sure why they can't offer it on ARM. iPad still creams it for resolution. 1366 x 768 holds no interest for me in anything larger than a Galaxy Note.

    I'm confused, can it run any Windows application that I have on my PC? Or do apps have to be developed that will run on this tablet?

    How do I get this to work with my Macbook, or iPhone...?
    ....wait, I'm locked into Apple...NNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

    (should have seen this coming)

      and yet your iPad works well with windows... SUCKERS!

    This thing looks slick! Has it's own keyboard cover will it be the end of case sellers like http://www.casebuddy.com.au?

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