Microsoft made their "major" announcement yesterday, revealing an all-new tablet device that looks to rival Apple's iPad. During their press event, Microsoft unveiled the brand new Surface tablet, "a tablet that's a unique expression of entertainment and creativity".
The Surface runs the yet-to-be released version of the Windows 8 operation system allowing for a "new type of computer", the kind that "works and plays the way you want".
How so? Thanks to new features like an integrated keyboard, USB support, and built-in Microsoft Office the Surface delivers that office experience on-the-go, while still offering entertainment like music and games through apps from the Windows Store. It looks like Microsoft's Surface tablet will be one of the first to successfully combine work with play.
The Surface also offers industry standard specs like a 10.6 inch high-definition touchscreen along with front and rear facing cameras, which all fit into a 9.3 millimeter, 1.5-pound frame. In that frame is a built-in kickstand that allows the user to go from an interactive experience to more of a passive; this will prove especially useful when watching movies. Also included is a stylus pen that uses digital ink allowing users to digitally write on the tablet itself.
The Surface will actually ship two different models. The first will be the Surface for Windows RT which will be released later this year in coordination with the launch of Windows 8. This device is most similar to the iPad and will run an NVIDIA's ARM processor. Three months later, Microsoft will release the Surface for Windows 8, which will run an Intel Ivy Bridge i5 core processor. This version will enable the Windows 8 device to run more like a standalone computer, capable of running its own high performance software like full Microsoft Office apps.
Both devices have a 10.6" ClearType HD Display, just slightly larger than the 9.8" iPad screens. The Surface RT will also have a micro HDMI port allowing you to connect it directly to a big screen monitor, no AirPlay or Xbox required. Both devices will come with covers that include integrated keyboards – one "Touch Cover" with mechanical keys that have depth and one "Type Cover" that will be 3mm thin. The RT will come bundled with Office Home & Student 2013 RT software and the Pro will come with a pen input device.
The Windows RT model will be available in 32- and 64-gigabyte versions and will be priced "comparably" to other tablets on the market. The full Windows 8 version will come in 64- and 128-GB versions and will priced similar to ultrabooks, which typically cost about $1,000.
Judging from the images released, Microsoft looks to be going with that "creative" look by offering the tablets in all sorts of funky, bright colors. Colors alone won't be enough to sell the Surface, however. It needs to prove reliable, quick, and simple.
Can Microsoft compete with Apple in the tablet department? Only time will tell, but the Surface looks to be a nice start for Microsoft. They are taking what current tablet devices offer and simply making them better – at least from a feature standpoint. Whatever the case, Apple better watch out. Between the Kindle Fire and now the Surface, the market for tablets just got a whole lot more crowded.