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.


Surface for Windows RT

Screen 10.6-inch ClearType HD Display
CPU ARM processor
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)
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



    STFU whilst I stuff my money in your mouth!!!!!

    I am so keen!

    Only thing that would hold me back is the hope that Nokia will release a Windows RT tablet with Nokia Drive built in. Straight into the dash of my car that would go!

      Wow - You could build the dash as a removable tablet dock and when the Tablet is plugged in it would control your sound, navigation and provide digital feedback from your car's systems. I like it!

        My plan is an audison bitone for digital audio into the car and volume control.
        USB noise cancelling microphone mounted in the A pillar.
        Bluetooth sync my phone to the tablet for voice calls and to stream music. Also to provide internet to the tablet.

        I really hope there will either be Windows RT tablets with FM radio also, or that you will be able to get an FM radio tuner for windows RT.

    They should have called it "The next of Kin". Isn't that who you call when something dies?

      Nice try but it doesn't quite hit the mark.

        Why doesn't it quite hit the mark?

          That should have been a reply to Kroo's lame attempt at being clever.

    I don't get why people say it needs to be priced better than an's biggest selling point is that it runs Windows 8 and it's not an iPad. I'd pay a premium for that

      +1 there

        Maybe you would pay a premium, but most people will not. The Windows RT 32GB version needs to be priced the same as the the 32GB iPad to directly compete. What happened with the introduction of the iPad is most people realised that they didn't need a full computer for most task (I am referring to the general population here). Additionally the iPad introduced computing to the remanding of the population that where computer illiterate (unable to use a full operating system). For the professional population the iPad is convenience devices as it does some things better than a full computer and it extremely mobile. If Windows 8 RT is not directed to the same consumers as the iPad then it is targeting the wrong market and that market will opt for the full Windows 8 experience over RT.

          Not to consumers maybe, but businesses will eat this up. Already businesses have mobile work stations. Imagine if every employee is just given a windows 8 tablet, which they can use as a desktop AND tablet, to show in meetings and just chatting away.
          "Hey Dave, can you show me the report you've been working on?"
          *Dave undocks his tablet and shows the report. When he's finished he puts the tablet back into the dock, and continues working away

            Agreeing with you for the Intel tablet but not the ARM RT tablet as it is not full blown Windows. I have noticed a lot of people think that they can use legacy applications on RT which is Metro only. Agree business will eat up the Intel tablets.

              That and the RT version of windows can't integrate with Active Directory so that will make things a bit of a pain. People with half a clue wanting them for business purposes would hopefully go for the Pro version anyway.

                Could still have metro-based enterprise apps that have built in logins... but yea, that's pushing it. Gunna be Windows 8 x86 for proper enterprise.

          One would hope that, like all PC products, the recommended retail price will bear little resemblance to street pricing. If JB Hi-Fi can sell them for $50 less than an iPad, it won't matter what the recommended price is.

          While consumers don't need a full computer for most tasks, they still need a full computer to suplement their iPad.

          They don't need a full computer to partner with their Windows 8 Tablet. That's where the savings are.

            My post are regarding to Windows 8 RT. The Pro Tablet is competing with the ultra book space and I think people will pay the same price as ultra books for it and it will do well. The RT tablet is competing with the iPad, Android space. Price it above these (or if distributor like JB HiFi cannot sell them for less than the iPad) I think it will have problems with sales, as like you have indicated there will be no saving as you would need the full Windows 8 to use your legacy apps (a second full computer).

      And they call Apple fanboys sheeple. So so sad.

    Interesting device. I like the concept of the attachable keyboard similar to an iPad smart cover. It will also be interesting to see the level of Office capability that ships with the tablet as that is one area where iPad and Android tablets do not shine due to missing fonts & software incompatability, the majority of my corporate documents either fail to load or render horribly on both iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab.
    I'm not sure how useful the attachable keyboard will be in real use-cases like commuting on the train - at the moment, I am using a Samsung Galaxy Tab and Swype is brilliant in this event.

      There are two different ones - the soft, membrane Touch Cover or the Type Cover, with a very thin mechanical keyboard. The latter should be a lot better but I also think it would look just as striking with an Arc Keyboard in front of it.

    Very interested in how W8 will affect the Tablet industry. Microsoft will need to find the perfect price point that makes them accessible to the unwashed masses but high enough to ensure they're not losing money hand over fist just to get into the market.

      If it can be competitively priced against the iPad, it should be a winner. A reasonably priced tablet with a proper operating system? It'll practically sell itself!

    I'm not seeing the appeal of that keyboard if you need to use a kickstand with it.

      What, would you rather have the display flat on your desk while you type?

    I would at least look at one of these to buy however it would have to be less than a decent android tablet to win me over.

    Microsoft are always so late to the party, I see no innovation in this, just another device with a different OS offering nothing new. MS will most likely prohibit these into oblivion with their corporate licensing anyway.

      Microsoft were so late to the game console party, I see no innovation in the XBox, just another device with different platform offering nothing new.

        Yep, Macintosh is so innovative and Windows is doing nothign new

      That's right, if I see another bloody tablet with a multi-touch keyboard built into the screen cover and an integrated kickstand, I'll bloody well scream.

    Anyone have any ideas for an app to write for this thing? I have played with metro development and it's simple enough, I can supply the code... Just need someone with an idea.

      Feel free to code for me haha. Need a volunteer to code some apps for a community radio station.

    lets see where the sales are on 12 months... they will be crap.. watch this space...

      Apple should pay you 50m/year so they dont have to hire Nelson market research:))

    What type of display does it have?


    Keeping is simple.

    More competition and alternatives is always good for the consumer, it will drive innovation and price down. +1 for Microsoft.

    I like the shot of Ballmer's big pile of cocaine at 0:07 in the video.

    Tablets look great too - do a decent job of this MS and I will seriously consider ditching my ipad. Going backwards, screenwise, could be the main issue though.

    Stylus? Digital Ink? I wonder how well it work as a drawing tablet.

    Wow, some of the complaints here are over the most trivial things. Mostly about the stand and the keyboard.
    Does that mean everyone agrees the actual tablet itself (with the plethora of inputs, the stylings of Windows 8 and the surface) is just amazing?

    "The first device, called the Surface for Windows RT". They never learn do they..

    Am I missing something? Can this tablet run the apps that I have on my PC? Or do they have to developed/ported across to this tablet?

      The Intel version will run legacy applications. The ARM version will not (which is the thinner one)

    Interested in Microsoft Products are you?

    Check this out :)

    It looks like a decent bit of kit. I think that the full PC type tablets will replace laptops before too long, but I don't think that MS will own the space like it hopes to. There are already competitors in the market with i5 tablets running full versions of windows (, and by the looks of it the keyboard is a nice gimmick but not as good as a proper keyboard.

    Well, I for one have wanted outlook on a tablet since the first iPad. This might just give me that reason to ditch my iPad and come home... the shiny toy apple lets me buy but not fully play with is getting boring.

    there is a lot of people in here ignoring the fact that a lot of people (myself included and i know several others) who have been buying ipads and android tablets while we wait for a full OS for our tablets. andorid and ios arent full OSs they are cut down ones that give most of the core functionality a full OS does but with the bells and wistles cut out.

    lets face it and ios can handle a little of the load but you cant get a full office on those devices. you cant connect 4 hdds at once through a usb hub, you cant install full versions of a lot of programs or use full featured networking.....these things are going to sell like wild fire...cause this is like you apple fans getting mountain lion on ipad or getting ubantu on an android device but with them being set up for touch....its just much better

    I have 2 Ipads, i use em pretty much cuz I m fk busy. but honestly, you can lose your active mind easily with the IPAD.if i got much of free time i d prefer an android and Win RT tablet

    I used to work for one of the big banks who introduced a mobile working environment using Macbook airs running Windows XP (not hard to guess where it was). Great concept, but the tech was not quite there... XP antiquated, problems with docking/undocking, slow startup, people still wanted to use their ipads. This thing will truly revolutionise the workforce for big companies who want to take the plunge into the 21st century. You've got a tablet, laptop and computer all in one. As long as it has enough Grunt to run the office suite it will suit 90% of users. Plug in your laptop to the light projector and get out a stylis for some min d mapping, do some proper work on the train on the way home, and possibly most importantly encourage large companies to finally ditch windows XP, the options are limitless, and this thing will fit in so much better to the corporate environment than the ipad does.

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