Today, Microsoft held a mystery press conference in Los Angeles to announce their newest iPad competitor, the Microsoft Surface. Unlike their previous attempt at CES 2011 where they displayed a tablet PC running Windows 7, Microsoft has stepped up to the plate and delivered a real tablet running their soon to be released Windows 8 OS. While there are many benefits to this, one being a real reason why they are making Windows 8 so touch-screen versatile, there are also a fair share of reasons why this will ultimately fall flat similar to the Microsoft Zune.
One of my first complaints are why they chose to use USB 2.0 instead of just adding a USB 3.0 slot which is already backwards compatible with 2.0. I know this might seem like a minor detail, but one of the reasons why Thunderbolt was such a seamless transition is because all newer Apple devices supported it once it was annouced. Not having a USB 3.0 could prove to be a hamper as newer devices come out and can’t be used with their tablet because they decided against it. Another complaint is the built in stand. While I understand copying Apple’s iPad case would be an obvious giveaway, and I doubt Microsoft wants to have the same problem Samsung did, I personally have never been a fan of build in stands. They always tend to leave me worried about how much force I can put on a screen without tipping it over, not to mention the annoyance of if and when it does break, how awkward it would feel without it. Now obviously the first counter-argument to that is “Then just don’t use the stand”, but at .7 mm thick, I have to wonder, no matter how many supports a kickstand has (this one was custom made specially, so it has 3 supports), it will always have a chance at becoming a disaster.
Another feature is a front and rear facing camera, which is actually one of the few things I can’t argue with. There is no word on how good the camera’s are, but at least they got it right in that department. The second great feature is an HDMI port build into the device, which could come in handy when trying to hook your tablet up to a projector. It also supports digital ink, meaning you can pop open a PDF file and start marking it up, and the device itself can handle up to 600 dpi without losing sharpness.
Internally, the Surface will include an ARM made by Nvidia and will run on an Intel Core i5, nothing too specific but at the least promises to have some decent power behind it all. It will have a few peripherals (Microsoft loves their peripherals), which will include a digital ink pen and an attachable laptop keyboard named the Type Cover. The Type Cover is the ‘case’ for the Surface, coming in a variety of colors and comprised of seven layers with a build it accelerometer build it so it will turn off when it is not in use to save battery life.
The Windows RT will come in 32GB and 64GB models priced “Like comparable tablets based on ARM” and will coincide with the release of Windows 8, and the Pro version coming in 64GB and 128GB models which will release 3 months later priced on-par with Ultrabook-class PCs.