Microsoft Surface Tablet – The Cure All Tablet?

At a press release today Microsoft  announced the Surface Tablet, Microsoft’s foray into the tablet market. The unit is made of lightweight magnesium, has a 10.6″  HD ClearType display with full size USB, 2X2 MIMO Wifi, Display Port, microSDXC, Gorilla Glass screen and a built in kickstand . Much like the Apple Smartcover, screen covers connect via magnets however there’s also the Touch Cover, a  3mm thick cover that’s actually a pressure sensitive  multi-touch keyboard and trackpad as well as the Type Cover, a 5mm thick fully tactile keyboard/cover combo.

The unit will come in both an Intel version running Windows 8 or an ARM variant running Windows RT. The Intel version is slighly thicker and heavier at 13.5mm and 1.9lb compared with 9.2mm and 1.5lbs for the ARM version. The Intel unit will also support a dual digitiser setup that supports both touch and Digital Ink with an active pen and also USB 3.0. The  unit will be available in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB versions depending on processor platform.

From my perspective the major winner will be the Corporate clients.  Many are looking at how to integrate tablet computing into their corporate networks and in a lot of ways Android and iOS just don’t cut it.  Integration with Active Directory and being able to run corporate apps natively are just two of the big benefits of a Microsoft Windows tablet.

No pricing is available yet however Microsoft says that it should be competitive with a comparable ARM tablet or Intel Ultrabook-class PC.

Apple, Google or Microsoft……more choice has to be good doesn’t it?

Posted in: News, Tablets, Ultra Portables

{ 11 comments… add one }

  • anson June 18, 2012, 9:17 pm

    if MS is afraid commit to a price-point at a public keynote, it will end up being expensive.

  • anson June 18, 2012, 9:19 pm

    cool nevertheless… too bad they didn’t jump on the “liquid-metal” bandwagon. A Magnesium case sounds so pedestrian :p

  • Robert Grenader June 19, 2012, 12:19 am

    Hear that sound? It’s the Apple Legal Dept getting the “slavish copying of iPad Technology” lawsuit ready to file. LOL

  • September June 19, 2012, 1:38 am

    Price probably going to end up on the steep end. Like the original HP Slate came out at $799 and was so sluggish. The Windows RT version is Microsoft’s way of getting into the “apps” bandwagon. If battery life doesn’t last over 4 hours (minimum) then this is just an overpriced paperweight.

  • James June 19, 2012, 3:11 am

    Correction on the screen covers, they’re also smart keyboards that deactivate in the close position and MS claims is 2x better than using the on screen keyboard. The thicker version you mentioned adds the touch pad and a keyboard with more key press travel.

    Pricing for the WinRT model was stated to be competitive with other ARM tablets. So probably closer to the $600 price point, which some other Windows 8 tablets have already been suggested they may be priced.

    While the Intel based model is likely to be priced more like a Ultrabook but will offer up to Core i5 performance and Windows 8 Professional.

    @ September – The HP Slate was based on the under powered Z530 single core ATOM but average performance has gone up since then and ARM SoCs can now rival the ATOM for performance.

    Mind also Windows 8 is already suppose to be easier to run than Windows 7 but Windows RT doesn’t have to support legacy apps and so is even more light weight than regular Windows 8.

    Also Windows 8 supports similar power and efficiency standards as mobile OS already do. So Windows 8/RT can take advantage of the hardware power saving features far better than previous Windows releases. The other proposed Windows 8 tablets are already starting to quote run times that rival the iPads. While still offering the performance and capabilities most people consider the minimum that desktop OS performance provides.

    Demo videos on youtube have for example shown WinRT tablets switching between open apps as quickly as the user can swipe their finger. So looks like Win8 should be speedy enough and mind also that all versions of Windows 8/RT will include MS Office as standard now for a nice bump in value.

  • Ian Lim June 19, 2012, 3:49 am

    @Robert – :)

    @September – Yes I sold a few Slates to corporates based on integration with Active Directory and native application support, but because of the Win7 interface, speed and battery life, my opinion of them wasn’t so high :)

    @James – Thanks for the corrections and additional info. I was tapping out this post as the live blogs were coming through from the release and I had a chance to quickly go through the info before I had to get back to work :) I’ve only just come back to the post and I think I originally had 3mm then put 5mm. Now I’ve had a chance to digest the release I’ll amend the news item :)

  • eddt June 19, 2012, 9:43 am

    Can I trade in my Zune(s) for credit towards this?

  • Jackie Cheng June 19, 2012, 11:29 am

    @eddt – LOL…Microsoft hasn’t been very successful with their own hardware line. So you might need to ask if the Surface tablet has a trade-in value as well..lol

  • Be June 19, 2012, 3:47 pm

    This could be the real tabletpc we inking and OneNote lovin’ tableteers have been waiting for. Hoping the digitizer is Wacom over N-trig and battery life is tablet worthy. This integrated, non-swappable battery trend still bothers me.

  • Pam T. June 19, 2012, 5:17 pm

    There’s a huge community waiting for a “real” tablet-style computer to come out, and I’m one of them. I’m impressed with what I’m reading about the Surface models and I don’t fault Windows for coming out with both the RT and full versions. In its day, Windows CE was THE only mobile operating system.

    What MS has done that Apple has not is to be able to have a full OS operating (hopefully very well) on a tablet platform. I think they’ve managed the market possibilities the best they can. Because, to me, if they’d done anything less, everyone would still moan and groan and second guess them.

  • 10basetom June 20, 2012, 7:39 am

    Microsoft has a pretty consistent track record of releasing quality hardware, starting with their mice in the 80s, Natural Keyboards in the 90s, and Xbox/Kinect in the last decade — and yes, even their later Zune models were nice (just doomed by bad timing).

    I expect their Surface tablets to be very nice, and it couldn’t come at a better time. Hardly anything in tech excites me anymore, but I must say this news is pretty exciting.

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