Microsoft gets into the tablet game with the Windows 8-flavoured Surface

Microsoft gets into the tablet game with the Windows 8-flavoured SurfaceAs the world's most successful software company, Microsoft has tried its hand at a fair few things over the past couple of decades, but it has never shown much interest in getting involved on the hardware side of things - largely because the few attempts it has made have failed spectacularly.

Well, that has just changed thanks to the announcement of the Microsoft Surface, an entertainment-focused Windows 8 tablet with a rich vein of Xbox flavouring running through it.

If you're thinking the Surface name sounds familiar, it's the same name Microsoft used for its experimental touch table technology it showed off a few years ago at CES.

But the 2012 evolution of the name is attached to a far more mainstream concept – a 10.6in tablet designed to spearhead the Windows 8 tablet assault over the coming months.

And it seems Microsoft is happy to make it a multi-fronted assault, too. The Surface has been announced in both ARM and Intel form, running Windows 8 RT and Windows 8 Pro respectively.

As for the physical device itself, it's suitably skinny at 9.3mm thin, but otherwise is a fairly standard-looking piece of tablet hardware, although seeing the well-known Windows logo below the screen does take a bit of getting used to.

The Surface features a built-in kick stand, while the 10.6in display is fronted by the latest Corning Gorilla Glass 2 and supports both finger- and stylus-based touch input.

On the software side of things, it'll come as no surprise to hear that the Surface will be packed with all the top Microsoft apps, including Xbox Live, while it will also arrive with a native Netflix app pre-loaded.

The RT-based model will launch in 32GB and 64GB variants, while the Windows 8 Pro model will give you the choice of 64GB and 128GB inside. All models will feature USB 2.0 and HDMI ports, along with both front- and rear-facing cameras.

Despite the ground-breaking move into the hardware mainstream, Microsoft's Panos Panay – who unveiled the Surface on stage at a Microsoft event in Los Angeles last night – insists the hardware is intended mainly as a vehicle to show off Windows 8 in its best light – much like the Nexus line has been used to showcase Android over the past few years.

“This was built as a stage for Windows 8,” Panay said. “It was important that we have hardware fade to the background so Windows 8 can come to the surface.”

As for when the Surface (and no doubt an endless succession of similarly painful puns) will be, er, surfacing, Microsoft hasn't told us yet, saying only that it will be priced “competitively” when it does.

Add a comment
23 comments

barrybarryk  Jun. 19, 2012 at 09:23

I can easily see the Intel version (Surface for Windows 8 Pro I think they're calling it) replacing both my android tablet and work laptop. I mean come on, it's a full on PC in the shape of a small and easily manageable tablet, that's awesome. Well if they've got the battery life under control that is.

I still don't get why they even bothered with Windows 8 RT though

JanSt / MOD  Jun. 19, 2012 at 09:41

From what I read these are really more showcases. They'll be sold exclusively through Microsoft's stores. They will be very expensive :p

Oh, who am I kidding... ***Yawn***

Stelph  Jun. 19, 2012 at 09:47

Hmm, its a nice concept but im still waiting for the convertable tablet/laptop to come out which runs of ARM when in tablet mode (energy efficent) and then Intel when docked to a keyboard to make a true laptop (with a decicated graphics card)

Also the keyboard is nice, however they should have implemented one of these into the tablet for more "wow" factor

http://www.virtual-laser-devices.com/?an=vlk-new

barrybarryk  Jun. 19, 2012 at 09:49

Yeah when I was watching it last night there weren't really a load of moments that made me think "Wow that looks cheap!" lol. And Ballmers 'priced similarly to ultrabooks' comment on the Intel version didn't exactly help things but then again an i5, 1080p screen, decent sized SSD, runs Windows and hopefully a decent amount of RAM, it more or less is an ultrabook, just shaped like a tablet.

JanSt / MOD  Jun. 19, 2012 at 09:52

Yeah when I was watching it last night there weren't really a load of moments that made me think "Wow that looks cheap!" lol. And Ballmers 'priced similarly to ultrabooks' comment on the Intel version didn't exactly help things but then again an i5, 1080p screen, decent sized SSD, runs Windows and hopefully a decent amount of RAM, it more or less is an ultrabook, just shaped like a tablet.

I read a couple of months ago (no idea where) that Win 8 tablets are expected to be priced at around $800 - $1,000. That guesstimate was based on various factors - from the cost of Win itself, to very rigid hardware specifications set by Micro$oft.

Stelph  Jun. 19, 2012 at 09:54

Yes I also forgot to mention price, I fully expect these to come in at the £1000 mark (or £999) as Microsoft will expect its hardware partners to fill all other parts of the market. Which they wont (all ending up £999). Meaning what could be a really good idea will flop. "sigh"

Microsoft - Price this correctly and you will make a killing, you have the resources to go for Apples throat and price lower than the iPad so do it

barrybarryk  Jun. 19, 2012 at 10:01

Yeah I'd be surprised if that Intel one goes for any less than £800 (and that's without MS charging themselves for Win 8 licenses) That's pretty much slap bang in the middle of Ultrabook territory and they can't really start throwing their weight around and under cutting everyone because they rely on all the other manufactures to sell their software and I'm getting the impression the Intel one is aimed squarely at businesses.

There'll probably be cheaper versions from 3rd parties by the time it comes out with slightly different specs and things.
Actually it'll probably be £1 cheaper than a macbook air lol

JanSt / MOD  Jun. 19, 2012 at 10:11

Yes I also forgot to mention price, I fully expect these to come in at the £1000 mark (or £999) as Microsoft will expect its hardware partners to fill all other parts of the market. Which they wont (all ending up £999). Meaning what could be a really good idea will flop. "sigh"

Microsoft - Price this correctly and you will make a killing, you have the resources to go for Apples throat and price lower than the iPad so do it


Yep, no matter how much these run 'full desktop' software... without Apple's App Store, pricing is going to kill these. The iPads and other tabs taught many folks that they actually never really needed/made use of that 'full desktop OS'...

satchef1  Jun. 19, 2012 at 10:13

Prices of Ultrabooks are heading south. From what little 2nd gen pricing has been announced so far, it seems the new ones will be a bit cheaper (around $800, as low as $700 in some cases). I could see the 64GB being something like £799 or $899, with the 128GB at £899 or $999. That would be competitive, but not too cheap.

barrybarryk  Jun. 19, 2012 at 10:21

I'm sure the Windows RT one will be much cheaper, probably appearing around the same prices as iPads with the same memory. But at the minute there are virtually no 'Metro' apps and to be honest I don't really see it getting the same support as the Apple App store if only because it's so new and the vast vast majority of desktop applications wont run on RT.

I really expect Windows RT to go along the same lines as Windows CE or ME, in that they were all just crap ideas.

JanSt / MOD  Jun. 19, 2012 at 10:35

Prices of Ultrabooks are heading south. From what little 2nd gen pricing has been announced so far, it seems the new ones will be a bit cheaper (around $800, as low as $700 in some cases). I could see the 64GB being something like £799 or $899, with the 128GB at £899 or $999. That would be competitive, but not too cheap.
Yes... that'd be an iPad plus a good netbook

JanSt / MOD  Jun. 19, 2012 at 12:32

http://i1-news.softpedia-static.com/images/news2/Microsoft-Unveils-Two-Windows-8-Surface-Tablets-2.jpg

THAT IS SHOCKING!

JanSt / MOD  Jun. 19, 2012 at 12:33

PS: for once I'm glad bits got cut off :p The whole picture's just too much.

satchef1  Jun. 19, 2012 at 14:11

What's actually wrong with it?...

JanSt / MOD  Jun. 19, 2012 at 14:36

What's actually wrong with it?...

You don't find the colour disturbing?

Treab  Jun. 19, 2012 at 17:42

What's actually wrong with it?...

You don't find the colour disturbing?


nope... kinda like it... *shifty eyes*

bettsy  Jun. 19, 2012 at 20:12

Anything more than £399 and they'll struggle

satchef1  Jun. 19, 2012 at 22:59

What's actually wrong with it?...

You don't find the colour disturbing?


I guess it is a bit... bright. I'm not sure to be honest, I'd have to see one in the flesh to really make my mind up. If not there seems to be a few colour options; cyan, magenta, orange, grey, white, maybe others?

TBH I was just wondering what it was you didn't like about the picture.

JanSt / MOD  Jun. 20, 2012 at 08:46

What's actually wrong with it?...

You don't find the colour disturbing?


I guess it is a bit... bright. I'm not sure to be honest, I'd have to see one in the flesh to really make my mind up. If not there seems to be a few colour options; cyan, magenta, orange, grey, white, maybe others?

TBH I was just wondering what it was you didn't like about the picture.


Ah, okay, gotcha. I can be a bit impulsive. And I assume it's the same colours they use in the Lumia cases. Not my cup of tea. Not even in the same bistro. :p

Stelph  Jun. 22, 2012 at 13:22

Itd help if the keyboard colour matched the background

MICROSOFT - Since I assume the keyboard is connecting to the tablet through bluetooth it would be very cool if when the tablet "handshakes" with the keyboard the Metro background colour changed automatically to match the specifc colour that the keyboard is that you are attaching - You can have that idea free

JanSt / MOD  Jun. 22, 2012 at 13:38

Itd help if the keyboard colour matched the background

MICROSOFT - Since I assume the keyboard is connecting to the tablet through bluetooth it would be very cool if when the tablet "handshakes" with the keyboard the Metro background colour changed automatically to match the specifc colour that the keyboard is that you are attaching - You can have that idea free

Philanthropist p*g, you :p

barrybarryk  Jun. 22, 2012 at 13:41

Itd help if the keyboard colour matched the background

MICROSOFT - Since I assume the keyboard is connecting to the tablet through bluetooth it would be very cool if when the tablet "handshakes" with the keyboard the Metro background colour changed automatically to match the specifc colour that the keyboard is that you are attaching - You can have that idea free
It actually does do that, it's not bluetooth though there's a physical connection that snaps into place. They demoed the colour changing during the reveal

Stelph  Jul. 10, 2012 at 14:41

Ah it does? Well thats good, I assumed it didnt as the image in this thread showed a surface where the backdrop and the keyboard didnt match :P

Email:

You don't need an account to comment. Just enter your email address. We'll keep it private.

Comment: