'Microsoft Surface' Windows 8/RT tablets announced

The rumors are indeed true. Microsoft is getting into the tablet business with Microsoft Surface type tablet. The product, announced at the company's mysterious Los Angeles press event by the company's CEO Steve Ballmer, will be based on Windows 8.

The press event also revealed that it will have a 10.6 inch display. It weighs just 1.5 pounds, is 9.3 mm thick, and is supposedly the first such device with a magnesium case; it will also come with a kickstand. Microsoft will also release a cover for the tablet that will have a keyboard. Inside it will have a ARM-based processor made by NVIDIA and the pro version of Microsoft Surface will have Intel-based processors.

Microsoft has just launched a Microsoft Surface website with some more information along with some more images.

Microsoft has also released a spec sheet showing off both the Intel-based Surface (running Windows 8 Pro) and the ARM-based version (running Windows RT). The Windows 8 Pro is heavier and thicker and has a larger battery. The ARM version comes in 32 and 64 GB versions, while the Windows 8 Pro comes in 64 and 128 GB versions.

Microsoft's press release says that the Windows RT version will actually come out first "with the general availability of Windows 8". The Windows 8 Pro version is coming out 90 days later. Pricing will be announced later but Microsoft claims that it will "be competitive with a comparable ARM tablet or Intel Ultrabook-class PC. OEMs will have cost and feature parity on Windows 8 and Windows RT."

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Awesome!

General observation that they aren't calling it Windows Tablet or something that has Windows name in it.

I wish they would rename the Windows Phone to something that doesn't have the Windows name in it. It might actually sell a little better.

PRICE PRICE PRICE!!?!? This is what bugs me.. I just purchased a Asus T300 Tablet.. more than pleased! I may get one of these but no price to be found with a note to say it would announced later so ya best expect it to be well over $600. Unless its under $400 for everything then it will flop!

So what happened to Microsoft Surface- the big-assed table computer? It seems odd that they repurposed the name. Will this cause confusion, or has table-Surface been abandoned?

I love the design. I think the integrated keyboard and touchpad are excellent.
Microsoft have done a very good job, and I'm sure it'll be a worthy competitor to the iPad.

lcg said,
I love the design. I think the integrated keyboard and touchpad are excellent.
Microsoft have done a very good job, and I'm sure it'll be a worthy competitor to the iPad.

The Asus T300 has exactly that.. I love mine keyboard dock and all!

A nice adjunct to an office computer, or toy, depending on use. Clearly, that was the focus for Windows-8 and Win-8 RT; with any hype about laptops and desktops just a smokescreen. Now that the secret has been revealed, MS needs to do something for business-oriented laptops and desktops--maybe Windows-9 or Windows-7 SP2?

Wow. All that hype and just another tablet. I was expecting new. Some new kind of technology product. Not just another version of another companies product. Don't get me wrong. It is a decent product and all but does not live up to the hype. We all knew a W8 tablet was coming.

Well it just shows you that Microsoft wasn't just sitting around and waiting for someone to do a really great tablet. They did their own !!
Now everyone of the OEM's will be trying to make theirs even better or at least cheaper so as to compete.

Well Done MS! Let this be successful then I will eagerly await a MS manufactured phone. I LOVE my Titan but the ecosystem surrounding the Titan(or any windows phone except maybe the lumia) is tiny compared to the iPhone. Go try and buy a case or any accessory for a Titan and an iPhone...nuf said. Having a common platform for accessories and gadgets that connect to a device is priceless. Let's hope the attachable keyboards(and future accessories) work on BOTH models! I think this is the best move they could make. Let's be real, PC's are different because OEM's and partners can make things for a PC no matter who made it. Even the insides are all standards based accross all OEM's. You can't make standard accessories for tablets and phones. I just see the ecosystems as too different to maintain the same business model in each.

This is the first of its kind, keyboard, cover and tablet with full OS. Marriage between laptop and and tablet that makes ultra book look ancient.

minster11 said,
This is the first of its kind, keyboard, cover and tablet with full OS. Marriage between laptop and and tablet that makes ultra book look ancient.

They've had keyboard covers for the iPad for a while now. First of its kind?

mattmatik said,

They've had keyboard covers for the iPad for a while now. First of its kind?

You're right, but this one is better executed (rather than being an aftermarket accessory) and it also has a pointing device built in.

It was about time. When Microsoft start designing their signature Natural Keyboard and Intellimouse line, only then other manufacturers like Logitech started making quality devices. So in the end it's a win for consumers

vhaakmat said,
It was about time. When Microsoft start designing their signature Natural Keyboard and Intellimouse line, only then other manufacturers like Logitech started making quality devices. So in the end it's a win for consumers

Precisely!

Microsoft's *original* Natural Keyboard was a *benchmark* product - it was not designed to be a price leader (as it was neither the highest-priced, or lowest-priced, keyboard for IBM-compatibles); in that fashion, it succeeded beyond even the wildest dreams of Microsoft with their first *benchmark* peripheral - the *Dove bar* Microsoft Mouse. That is the real reason behind *all* hardware that Microsoft puts their name on - it's benchmarks for others to aim at. While Apple wants to be Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft hardware is "classic Chevy" (the Chevrolet of founder Walter that was the linchpin of General Motors); the same Chevrolet that was actually able to slug it out with Henry Ford and the Model T (and later Model A) to a draw - quality made affordable. In a way, it's the same mantra that applies to *everything* that Microsoft produces in the commercial space, both hardware *and* software.

Why else has that murmur been going on in the background of the Windows space going back, in fact, to Windows 9x? It's not just been from Apple, either - the first time I actually heard the gauntlet being laid down, it was from a shocking source - Michael Dell.

What's happening? Why do I feel an Apple-like excitement.

Looks like Microsoft got their hype right, this time.

But this raises so many questions; like: how was this not even rumoured until the day before?

Meph said,
What's happening? Why do I feel an Apple-like excitement.

Looks like Microsoft got their hype right, this time.

But this raises so many questions; like: how was this not even rumoured until the day before?

Microsoft wanted to outdo Apple on both secrecy AND hype. I'd say they at least got the secrecy part right.

I don't know how Android tablets are going to compete with Microsoft and Apple in the tablet space They should stick with phones I guess.

Melfster said,
I don't know how Android tablets are going to compete with Microsoft and Apple in the tablet space They should stick with phones I guess.

Maybe lower price segment of the market.

Interesting, the windows RT version will ship with a beta version of office. I guess that explains how MS will be able to ship it in 2012 despite a 2013 target for office 2013 rtm:

"Surface for Windows RT includes Office Home & Student 2013 RT Preview"

Btw, office is NOT coming to iPad (it will just be a word/excel/ppt viewer), so office + this hardware keyboard will be a huge advantage over the iPad and android tablets.

link8506 said,
Interesting, the windows RT version will ship with a beta version of office. I guess that explains how MS will be able to ship it in 2012 despite a 2013 target for office 2013 rtm:

"Surface for Windows RT includes Office Home & Student 2013 RT Preview"

Btw, office is NOT coming to iPad (it will just be a word/excel/ppt viewer), so office + this hardware keyboard will be a huge advantage over the iPad and android tablets.

Although Office for Windows RT does not include Outlook... Not that I am interested, Intel and Convertible format for me, still the lack of Outlook could be an issue for a lot of people, mostly business oriented of course.

Fritzly said,

Although Office for Windows RT does not include Outlook... Not that I am interested, Intel and Convertible format for me, still the lack of Outlook could be an issue for a lot of people, mostly business oriented of course.


Business oriented folks will be opting for the Intel based Surface. I know I will.

Am I the only one who thinks this is all just a little over-hyped?! Ok, so the specs look reasonable, but the concept of touch-screen windows tablets with keyboard docks is hardly new or revolutionary!

GreatMarkO said,
Am I the only one who thinks this is all just a little over-hyped?! Ok, so the specs look reasonable, but the concept of touch-screen windows tablets with keyboard docks is hardly new or revolutionary!

But one that can run Lightroom on the Desktop with intel chipset and in nice design. Think about it if your a photographer With Ipad there is no way to get photographs from your camera to the ipad without jumping through hoops without wifi. With this Windows 8 tablet it opens up a lot possibilities.

I do like how some elements, which appear to be copied on first glance, have their own twists to be unique.

Start with the Smart Cover. Then build in a kickstand so everyone can place their tablet in a reading position without buying a case. And for those who do buy a case, it doubles as a keyboard. Pretty neat.

Another good example of what inspiration does.

Denis W said,
Then build in a kickstand so everyone can place their tablet in a reading position without buying a case. And for those who do buy a case, it doubles as a keyboard. Pretty neat.

Another good example of what inspiration does.

Acer did this a year or so ago with their touch-screen Windows "Iconia" tab - and produced keyboard that doubles as a case and a stand! I don't really see this new Microsoft product as being all that unique/inspirational/revolutionary - other's have got there first!

GreatMarkO said,

Acer did this a year or so ago with their touch-screen Windows "Iconia" tab - and produced keyboard that doubles as a case and a stand! I don't really see this new Microsoft product as being all that unique/inspirational/revolutionary - other's have got there first!

The w500? I wouldn't consider that to be similar to an augmented keyboard on a cover.

Or just the Iconia with two screens (the Courier lookalike)?

edit: You might be right... the keyboard, according to the screenshot in the latest article, isn't augmented.

Edited by Denis W., Jun 19 2012, 12:19am :

GreatMarkO said,

Acer did this a year or so ago with their touch-screen Windows "Iconia" tab - and produced keyboard that doubles as a case and a stand! I don't really see this new Microsoft product as being all that unique/inspirational/revolutionary - other's have got there first!

Where Surface (and Surface Pro) stand alone is not *just* the features, but the quality of construction and materials - or did you skip right past the magnesium-alloy construction of the case itself? Surface Pro is basically intended to be the Windows version of the MacBook Air - and a benchmark for all Untrabooks.

There are several certainties about both the Surface and Surface Pro -

1. They will be Microsoft Signature (no bloat!) products - that alone makes one heck of a statement compared to competitors.

2. Where Apple has set itself apart (quite aside from the OS) are in two areas - fit/finish, and charging a premium for fit/finish. If Surface and Surface Pro can offer Apple-quality fit/finish at merely a competitive price, it will - quite succinctly - reduce Apple's entire argument to software. Corvettes at Camaro prices makes it hard - if not impossible - to justify Corvette-level pricing. (By the by, how is the fit and finish of Acer's Iconia tablet line?)

Luis Mazza said,
My eyes are bleeding over the blue keyboard.
/pukes

I don't like the blue keyboard either, but the black one is nice.

Luis Mazza said,
My eyes are bleeding over the blue keyboard.
/pukes

It's cyan, lol. If it's like the Nokia phones, it's probably not that bad, but I still prefer black.

Stefano Elia said,
Battery Life, SmartGlass and integration with other Microsoft services are my biggest questions left, but overall I'm impressed.

We don't know about battery life but the other two are a given since it's still just Windows and not some other OS. Smartglass and the new Xbox Music and Video services should work without issue on these.

Hurmoth said,
Why chose this over a competing Win8/RT tablet? Seems like a non-event.

Why choose a competing Win8/RT tablet over this? It's another option on the market and I think the touch cover is itself a interesting feature to have specially when I'm thinking of getting a hybrid and not just a regular tablet. I want the kb option.

GP007 said,

Why choose a competing Win8/RT tablet over this? It's another option on the market and I think the touch cover is itself a interesting feature to have specially when I'm thinking of getting a hybrid and not just a regular tablet. I want the kb option.

You don't think any of the other companies out there that will be making Windows 8/RT tablets will be offering a keyboard option? That isn't reason enough for Microsoft to make this product. To me, it seems like this is the Zune. Microsoft sees a market to compete in, but really doesn't have enough here to differentiate itself from the rest of the already crowded market. Crowded as in, all of the announced Windows 8/RT tablets, the Android tablets and of course the dominating tablet, the iPad (dominating in terms of market share).

This Surface isn't anything special compared to all of the other announced Windows tablets that's coming out this fall. A keyboard isn't going to cut it alone.

Hurmoth said,
Why chose this over a competing Win8/RT tablet? Seems like a non-event.

1) Really thin keyboard that doesn't drag the portability of the tablet down
2) Full HD screen - i'm guessing 1080p
3) Stock Windows
4) Stylus + keyboard + touch - all as standard, no catches.
5) A tablet kickstand that could actually be useful

enough differentiation for me.

Hurmoth said,
Why chose this over a competing Win8/RT tablet? Seems like a non-event.

Surface will be the premium experience . You can expect Microsoft to fully complement the Hardware with Software . Integrated with all MS services, No crapware . Overall I think what they actually want is to push OEMs to produce better tablets

FalseAgent said,

1) Really thin keyboard that doesn't drag the portability of the tablet down
2) Full HD screen - i'm guessing 1080p
3) Stock Windows
4) Stylus + keyboard + touch - all as standard, no catches.
5) A tablet kickstand that could actually be useful

enough differentiation for me.


1. Keyboard doesn't bother me. Especially on RT where most, if not all, apps will be Metro. Also, you can get a Bluetooth keyboard from Amazon that's probably just a thin.
2. You're telling me not a single other manufacture is making a Full HD screen? Maybe you should research the Asus Taichi.
3. Stock Windows? You mean Pro. If so, then any Intel-based (non-ARM) tablet will be using Pro.
4. That's nothing new. Did you read anything from Computex? (Look at Asus Tablet 810)
5. Not enough of a feature to really make it worth it, unless Microsoft drastically uncharges for it.

Sorry, try again.

gawicks said,

Surface will be the premium experience . You can expect Microsoft to fully complement the Hardware with Software . Integrated with all MS services, No crapware . Overall I think what they actually want is to push OEMs to produce better tablets

They've been trying that for years with the Microsoft Signature initiative and it hasn't worked yet. What makes you think it will now? And, with regards to software/hardware comment, I'd like to point out the Zune. I heard that same argument with the Zune and I could also point out Windows Phone. Sure, it my be better than sliced bread, but that doesn't mean the market will care about it.

FalseAgent said,

1) Really thin keyboard that doesn't drag the portability of the tablet down
2) Full HD screen - i'm guessing 1080p
3) Stock Windows
4) Stylus + keyboard + touch - all as standard, no catches.
5) A tablet kickstand that could actually be useful

enough differentiation for me.

Apparently the screen is only 1366x768... (seriously?)

Denis W said,

Apparently the screen is only 1366x768... (seriously?)

OUCH! There goes that "FULL HD". That won't be 1080p. Doesn't 1080p have a required resolution of 1920x1080?

[edit] Looks like the Intel-based Surface will be 1080p.

Hurmoth said,

1. Keyboard doesn't bother me. Especially on RT where most, if not all, apps will be Metro. Also, you can get a Bluetooth keyboard from Amazon that's probably just a thin.
2. You're telling me not a single other manufacture is making a Full HD screen? Maybe you should research the Asus Taichi.
3. Stock Windows? You mean Pro. If so, then any Intel-based (non-ARM) tablet will be using Pro.
4. That's nothing new. Did you read anything from Computex? (Look at Asus Tablet 810)
5. Not enough of a feature to really make it worth it, unless Microsoft drastically uncharges for it.

Sorry, try again.


1) That bluetooth keyboard from amazon isn't going to double as a cover and fold.
2) Asus Taichi has screens on both sides, something which I don't want (I'd doubt that many people would actually want that)
3) Stock Windows, I mean Windows with no bloatware. No pre-installed DVD burners or A/V software that could slow the tablet down.
4) Fair enough. The Tablet 810 does have a good stylus and keyboard.
5) Still, it's nice to have anyway.

Hurmoth said,
OUCH! There goes that "FULL HD". That won't be 1080p. Doesn't 1080p have a required resolution of 1920x1080?

Its full HD on the Intel version, the ARM version is just HD. The Intel version will be prices way higher than the ARM version, which will be competing with other tablets running Android and also iPads.

Hurmoth said,

1. Keyboard doesn't bother me. Especially on RT where most, if not all, apps will be Metro. Also, you can get a Bluetooth keyboard from Amazon that's probably just a thin.
2. You're telling me not a single other manufacture is making a Full HD screen? Maybe you should research the Asus Taichi.
3. Stock Windows? You mean Pro. If so, then any Intel-based (non-ARM) tablet will be using Pro.
4. That's nothing new. Did you read anything from Computex? (Look at Asus Tablet 810)
5. Not enough of a feature to really make it worth it, unless Microsoft drastically uncharges for it.

Sorry, try again.

Why are you arguing with us about what WE see as value in Microsoft's tablet? No one is forcing you to buy one and there will be plenty of other offerings available. Choose the one that works best for you. For some of us, maybe we'll be interested in the tablets Microsoft is offering.

FalseAgent said,

1) That bluetooth keyboard from amazon isn't going to double as a cover and fold.
2) Asus Taichi has screens on both sides, something which I don't want (I'd doubt that many people would actually want that)
3) Stock Windows, I mean Windows with no bloatware. No pre-installed DVD burners or A/V software that could slow the tablet down.
4) Fair enough. The Tablet 810 does have a good stylus and keyboard.
5) Still, it's nice to have anyway.

3. With all due respect, isn't that really Microsoft's fault for allowing them to do that in the first place? Microsoft could put restrictions on what OEM's are allowed to install. Or force them to ask the purchaser upfront what they want installed.

A lot of this is conjecture. What if Microsoft charges a premium on these tablets, like an extra $300 for the same internals as an Acer or Asus. Is it still worth it for those few little extras? Again, conjecture, but I have serious doubts.

Enron said,

Why are you arguing with us about what WE see as value in Microsoft's tablet? No one is forcing you to buy one and there will be plenty of other offerings available. Choose the one that works best for you. For some of us, maybe we'll be interested in the tablets Microsoft is offering.

I'm sorry, I didn't realize I wasn't allowed to voice my opinion too. Only those who agree with Microsoft on everything. I think that's call something, hmm, what is it?

And to think, I thought this was a forum, where opinions were suppose to be expressed. I guess I should raise my arm and scream, "Heil Ballmer!"

Hurmoth said,
OUCH! There goes that "FULL HD". That won't be 1080p. Doesn't 1080p have a required resolution of 1920x1080?

[edit] Looks like the Intel-based Surface will be 1080p.

Well that's good to hear. I'd eye for the Pro tablet if anything.

Hurmoth said,
I'm sorry, I didn't realize I wasn't allowed to voice my opinion too. Only those who agree with Microsoft on everything. I think that's call something, hmm, what is it?

And to think, I thought this was a forum, where opinions were suppose to be expressed. I guess I should raise my arm and scream, "Heil Ballmer!"

It seemed more like attacking someone and degrading them than voicing your opinion. No one says you can't, just dont be rude.

Hurmoth said,

3. With all due respect, isn't that really Microsoft's fault for allowing them to do that in the first place? Microsoft could put restrictions on what OEM's are allowed to install. Or force them to ask the purchaser upfront what they want installed.

A lot of this is conjecture. What if Microsoft charges a premium on these tablets, like an extra $300 for the same internals as an Acer or Asus. Is it still worth it for those few little extras? Again, conjecture, but I have serious doubts.


That's because such software helps subsidize the prices of the hardware. It's quite an important model for volume sales. It also helps OEM with differentiation (arguable).

Hopefully with Metro, bloatware will not be an issue anymore. Differentiation has also moved away from preloaded "value-added" software to other properties, like screen, trackpad, keyboard, heat, support services, and so on.

One thing I don't completely understand is how well the keyboard covers (especially the mechanical one) will work when you're using the device in your hands with the cover flipped around to the back.

Seems like it would be a bit awkward, hopefully the keyboard at least deactivates in this position.

Stetson said,
One thing I don't completely understand is how well the keyboard covers (especially the mechanical one) will work when you're using the device in your hands with the cover flipped around to the back.

Seems like it would be a bit awkward, hopefully the keyboard at least deactivates in this position.


They mentioned something about an accelerometer, I think, embedded in the cover.

georgevella said,

They mentioned something about an accelerometer, I think, embedded in the cover.

Yep I saw that. That deactivates the keyboard, but it still means you're holding onto a keyboard when you want to use this thing like a tablet. I guess it works better with the non-mechanical version of the keyboard since the "keyboard" side is still just a soft touch surface.

Stetson said,
One thing I don't completely understand is how well the keyboard covers (especially the mechanical one) will work when you're using the device in your hands with the cover flipped around to the back.

As what I've understood so far, the device will feel like a di ck: comfy/small when carried around and hard when it "transforms". Ergonomics at its best
Seems like it would be a bit awkward, hopefully the keyboard at least deactivates in this position.

Stetson said,

Yep I saw that. That deactivates the keyboard, but it still means you're holding onto a keyboard when you want to use this thing like a tablet. I guess it works better with the non-mechanical version of the keyboard since the "keyboard" side is still just a soft touch surface.


I agree. The touch cover would feel right (its only 3mm thick). The type cover on the other hand would probably feel weird. It's a shame that the Pro version is so far off from release

Have to admit all this looks great so far. Battery life is still the big question.

Still happy with this iPad, but maybe down the road I wouldn't mind one of these if Windows RT doesn't completely blow it months after its release.

If I was buying this (which, I will if it's under £599), I'd definitely go with the Pro version - adds a full HD display, USB 3.0, 128GB storage, and Intel processors. Though, given that added display resolution and processor, probably at a great cost to battery life, but even 5 hours will do me!

~Johnny said,
If I was buying this (which, I will if it's under £599), I'd definitely go with the Pro version - adds a full HD display, USB 3.0, 128GB storage, and Intel processors. Though, given that added display resolution and processor, probably at a great cost to battery life, but even 5 hours will do me!

erm, 128GB under £599, you're dreaming!

evo_spook said,
erm, 128GB under £599, you're dreaming!
Not sure if it's flash based or SSD, though I suppose either way is unrealistic There's a 64GB version of the pro too, but I'm hoping Microsoft hits a home run with the price.


Edited by ~Johnny, Jun 19 2012, 12:26am :

~Johnny said,
If I was buying this (which, I will if it's under £599), I'd definitely go with the Pro version - adds a full HD display, USB 3.0, 128GB storage, and Intel processors. Though, given that added display resolution and processor, probably at a great cost to battery life, but even 5 hours will do me!

Oh yeah definitely. The only reason I'd get this is to have x86 desktop apps handy if need be.

5 hours is laptop-class battery life. Would be nice if they can approach or match the iPad's 10 hours of battery life, at the expense of adding more weight to support a massive battery.

Stetson said,
I may be surprised but I would expect the Pro version to be near the $1000 mark.

Still, it makes for a killer alternative to existing Ultrabooks, tablets and slates by hte specs and construction alone. The Surface Pro takes on (and directly) the current Samsung Series 7 tablet/slate - and at the same price. (And this ias bad *why*?)

If anything, the Surface Pro will be the bar by which *all* Ultrabooks (regardless of what OS is on them) will be measured. (In my case, I'm looking *hard* at the 64GB Pro version, as any Ultrabook I would buy would be for productivity - not gaming.)

From all the talk about how important it is that hardware and software be designed hand in hand, you would think this was an Apple event.