Microsoft shows off Surface tablet
Event previews versions running Windows 8 Pro and RT
TechLife | 19 Jun 2012 :
Microsoft took a bold step into the tablet market on Monday with the unveiling of a computer aimed squarely at bettering Apple's market-leading iPad.
The computer, called Surface, will be available in two versions. One will run the Windows 8 Pro operating system and the other will be based on Windows RT, a new version of Windows designed to run on the ARM family of processors that are predominant in the tablet market.
Microsoft's history is littered with failed hardware. The Zune media player, Kin social phone and Courier tablet in the last five years alone have shown that whatever Apple do, Microsoft really cannot do better.
The Surface Tablet, however, might be a device that that can hold its own against the dominant iPad. The Metro interface looks great on it and it will run Windows 8 Pro and it's stripped down cousin, Windws RT for better performance on ARM processors. Also the inclusion of a keyboard sends out an important statement of intent: it's a tablet that can act like an ultrabook.
Microsoft also has an edge in the business space, which could be good news for IT admins frustrated with having to manage consumer devices on corporate networks.
As with Windows Phone we can see this as a solid device for business users, but hardly something for Apple to be worried about.
"It's something new, something different, a whole new family of computing devices from Microsoft," said Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, at a Los Angeles news conference.
The machine has a 10.6", widescreen, high definition display and comes with a 3mm thick, pressure-sensitive cover that doubles as a keyboard.
Current specifications call for the Windows RT version to be slightly thinner but slightly heavier than Apple's latest iPad, although Microsoft notes the size and weight of the device could change once mass production begins.
The Windows 8 Pro version will be thicker and heavier and appears designed to compete with ultra-thin notebook computers. It should be able to run all the same software as those computers.
Microsoft revealed a few basic specifications for the tablets. The RT version will come with 32 or 64Gb of storage, while the Windows 8 Pro version will have 64 or 128Gbs.
Microsoft didn't provide exact prices or launch dates for the tablets but said the RT version would be priced comparable with competing ARM-based tablets and be available around the time of the launch of Windows 8. The Windows 8 Pro will follow about three months later and cost around the same as ultrabook notebook computers.
The device was unveiled at a Los Angeles news conference that saw Microsoft apparently copying a page from Apple's product launch playbook. Gambling that its status and the promise of "major" news would be enough, Microsoft managed to attract around 300 reporters to the event despite providing no advance details of the nature of the news and not even disclosing the location of the announcement until Monday morning.
The tactics worked as business and tech media spent the weekend and much of Monday engaged in speculation on what Microsoft would be announcing and the term "MSMajorAnnouncement" entered Twitter's global list of trending topics an hour before the announcement.
The unveiling of the device comes 12 years after Microsoft first started pushing the concept of tablet computing. Then-chairman Bill Gates showed off a prototype tablet PC at the Comdex 2000 trade show but it wasn't until Apple launched the iPad in 2010 that the market began to take off.
IDG News Service