Microsoft: We've been working on Surface for three years

If you thought that Microsoft decided to enter the PC hardware business with its Surface tablet as a response to Apple's launch of the iPad, think again. A new article says that Microsoft has been working on the upcoming Windows RT-based touch screen tablet since the summer of 2009.

Engadget reports that, according to what Microsoft told them at a press event, the company knew that their next PC OS, Windows 8, would be based largely on a touch screen UI. They decided over three years ago that they needed a hardware product to showcase that user interface and Surface is the result.

The company created hundreds of prototypes for the Surface, some of which are on display in the image above. While Microsoft said it considered screen sizes of both 10.1 inches and 11.1 inches, it settled on the somewhat unusual 10.6 inch screen for the tablet in order to have room enough for some multitasking features to be placed on one side.

Because the screen size was so different, Microsoft decided to make the screen itself, rather than rely on outside third party suppliers. Indeed, the article claims that the Surface will have 200 custom created parts inside, including its kickstand.

Even with the 10.6 inch screen, the resolution of the Surface is just 1366x768, well behind the current iPad at 2048x1,536 and behind a number of Android-based tablets. Microsoft says that the resolution of the Surface still has a sharp image while also retaining good "readability".

Source: Engadget | Image via Engadget

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Seriously are people comparing a 1st Gen Surface to a 3rd Gen iPad? Why? Once the tablet has been out a while and the next gen is available then maybe we can compare but the iPad has had years of customer feedback and the surface isn't even out yet!
Also since the App store for the device is new surely it is only fair to compare it to the launch of the Apple or Google app stores at launch.

Are people also forgetting that this is windows it is running? There are so many things in the business space that a windows device should be able to do that an ipad or android tablet still cannot do, or cannot do without very expensive add-ons.
Also all the windows 8 bashing, sure it might not be great (to some people) on a desktop it might be amazing on a tablet, but until people have these in their hands its going to be hard to say - and I mean real people not reviewers

If the Surface is the result of three years worth of work, Microsoft really has lost its focus. More energy should have been focused in fixing the glaring problems with Windows-8. Oh well, MS will have to live with its bad judgements. How quickly will MS fix the mistakes and problems?

I setup an IPad for a woman this afternoon, and I had my Vizio laptop on the desk with the Win8 desktop up and she asked me what that was, I told her MS's new tablet will look like this. She smacked her husband on the arm and said "I told you we should have waited" She couldn't stop commenting on how "Alive" the screen looked. I didn't have to sell her, it sold itself. Then I started navigating around and the game was over, it has a keyboard too?

So you've learned that some people prefer iOS while others will prefer Windows RT/8.

Real shocker right there!

I just feel like pointing something out, even though I'm also disappointed by the low resolution of the Surface RT:

When a tablet comes out with a higher PPI than the iPad, iOS fans suddenly don't care about resolution anymore.

When a tablet comes out with lower resolution than the iPad, suddenly everyone cares about resolution again.

It's kind of funny how our feelings about specs change depending on who's on top in the comparison.

smooth3006 said,
took them 3 years and they still didn't get it right.

Your anti-"anything to do with Windows 8" rhetoric is getting old now. In what was is it not "right" in your eyes?

smooth3006 said,
took them 3 years and they still didn't get it right.

Netscape, Sony PS, and many others used to say the same thing...

It makes sense - the lame 1366x768 display probably looked OK when they started this thing. Still, comparing to the iPad 3 - this device is in big big trouble. Apple are being their usual selves, outmaneuvering Microsoft.

That sounds about right. I imagine it will still sell "well enough", but I doubt Apple is worried what anyone else is doing with their tablets.

a1ien said,
It makes sense - the lame 1366x768 display probably looked OK when they started this thing. Still, comparing to the iPad 3 - this device is in big big trouble. Apple are being their usual selves, outmaneuvering Microsoft.

It's not lame, it's still greater than HD 720p resolution, just not Full-HD 1080p. Besides, the iPad's 2048x1,536 resolution is just completely unnecessary on a small tablet screen and is just numbers for numbers sake.

TCLN Ryster said,
the iPad's 2048x1,536 resolution is just completely unnecessary on a small tablet screen and is just numbers for numbers sake.

I can almost guarantee you that you'll notice pixelation at a typical viewing distance using a Surface RT which you wouldn't on the new iPad. To each their own though, if that's not something you care about or can overlook (or have bad enough eyesight to not notice it).

a1ien said,
It makes sense - the lame 1366x768 display probably looked OK when they started this thing. Still, comparing to the iPad 3 - this device is in big big trouble. Apple are being their usual selves, outmaneuvering Microsoft.

Oh how Apple has successfully sold people on the overhyped retina display wake up people.

BajiRav said,

Oh how Apple has successfully sold people on the overhyped retina display wake up people.

Wake up to what? There's just no way around the fact that the Retina display in comparison to the old iPad display (which has a similar resolution as the RT) is pretty stunning.

Edited by Deactivated., Oct 16 2012, 6:02pm :

CJEric said,

Wake up to what? There's just no way around the fact that the Retina display in comparison to the old iPad display (which has a similar resolution as the RT) is pretty stunning.

Old iPad was 1024x768. Still, do a side-by-side test of the new iPad and any other tablet, open Web page, go read a book or magazine and be honest. If you can't see the difference, well, your eyesight is VERY poor. High DPI (or Retina as Apple call it) is very important.

CJEric said,

Wake up to what? There's just no way around the fact that the Retina display in comparison to the old iPad display (which has a similar resolution as the RT) is pretty stunning.

That's because the old iPad display was utter ****.

The iPad's a toy. I know, I own one. And, quite frankly, so is Surface RT.

Until Surface Pro comes out, I'm not interested.

And if none of these have GPS/cellular, neither will the rest of the world...

CJEric said,
I can almost guarantee you that you'll notice pixelation at a typical viewing distance using a Surface RT which you wouldn't on the new iPad.

I guarantee Microsoft have invested billions over the last 30 years in this narrow slice of PC tech in order to prove naysayers like you wrong.

MsftGaurav said,
I have a sad feeling that Surface Pro won't have longer battery life than Surface.

It probably won't, the larger battery is probably to accommodate the Intel CPU so that it has the same battery life as the RT version

MsftGaurav said,
I have a sad feeling that Surface Pro won't have longer battery life than Surface.

Definitely won't.
Even if part of the reason Pro is delay is to use the newest power efficient Intel chips it will still have lower battery life.
The reason is simply that people will get it, disable the built in Antivirus and install their bloatware of choice, add their own desktop applications which actually run as services on timers.

Even with timer coalescing that was introduced with Win7 it cannot match the sipping power of having every app on the system running through the Windows Runtime.

Add on top of this, the pro will most likely feature more on-screen touchpoints and an active stylus, both of which will draw more power. Expect the Pro to use SSD technology instead of flash technology used in WinRT. This difference will also be a drain point.

I suspect ~1h less battery life out-of-box with an abysmal life after the enthusiast configures it.

Resolution of a tablet is not the feature that makes the tablet best from all others. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

With how much work went into the design and all the custom parts it has it's no surprise it took so long to develop. The surprise is that MS was able to keep it a secret for 3 years.

GP007 said,
With how much work went into the design and all the custom parts it has it's no surprise it took so long to develop. The surprise is that MS was able to keep it a secret for 3 years.

Exactly! Kinda makes you wonder what other secrets they've been keeping below the surface ...

Darth Tigris said,

Exactly! Kinda makes you wonder what other secrets they've been keeping below the surface ...

Ha I see what you did there

If you thought that Microsoft decided to enter the PC hardware business with its Surface tablet as a response to Apple's launch of the iPad, think again. A new article says that Microsoft has been working on the upcoming Windows RT-based touch screen tablet since the summer of 2009.

You think the iPad just suddenly dropped from the sky April 2010? By summer 2009 the iPad was probably already in production or very near to going into production. With all the rumors and corporate espionage going on Microsoft must have been aware of this.

Mind you, I'm not saying Microsoft made the Surface in response to the iPad. But claiming they didn't purely based on these dates doesn't exactly pan out.

So they want to cover their R&D with those price....

I'll say it again, it's a Win for iPad and Android tablet with same price but better spec (think Retina or FullHD) and much better app store.

The only thing Surface (WinRT) has is Office 2013. That could be a killer.

TruckWEB said,
So they want to cover their R&D with those price....

I'll say it again, it's a Win for iPad and Android tablet with same price but better spec (think Retina or FullHD) and much better app store.

The only thing Surface (WinRT) has is Office 2013. That could be a killer.

One other thing is that the 32GB model of the iPad is $100 more than the 32GB version of the Surface

/Still wish they had gone with AT LEAST an HD+ screen

As usual, everyone is hung up over numbers. Just like in the camera race, resolution is not the end all be all Apple would have you believe. What matters more than resolution is MTF, not to mention contrast ratio and color gamut for subjective impression. Besides, at 155 DPI, it achieves visual acuity at 2 feet viewing distance, 2-3 ft is pretty typical for a tablet.

Microsoft showed off a demo of Surface RT versus iPad with Retina Display to journalists/bloggers yesterday in a blind test. Every one of them picked out Surface RT as by far the better display. Ed Bott even mentioned that Surface RT produced a "clearer, sharper image".

All I am suggesting is, wait till you check it out. No need to get hung up over numbers.

For those who want a Full HD screen, Surface Pro is in the works.

TruckWEB said,
So they want to cover their R&D with those price....

I'll say it again, it's a Win for iPad and Android tablet with same price but better spec (think Retina or FullHD) and much better app store.

The only thing Surface (WinRT) has is Office 2013. That could be a killer.

How is it possible to not be able to distinguish an Retina iPad from a Surface screen in a 'blind test'? The font renderings would be a dead give away? Would be great if I could read this article.

Subhadip said,
it achieves visual acuity at 2 feet viewing distance, 2-3 ft is pretty typical for a tablet.

I really doubt that. It's more like 1ft for me.

Subhadip said,
As usual, everyone is hung up over numbers. Just like in the camera race, resolution is not the end all be all Apple would have you believe. What matters more than resolution is MTF, not to mention contrast ratio and color gamut for subjective impression. Besides, at 155 DPI, it achieves visual acuity at 2 feet viewing distance, 2-3 ft is pretty typical for a tablet.

Microsoft showed off a demo of Surface RT versus iPad with Retina Display to journalists/bloggers yesterday in a blind test. Every one of them picked out Surface RT as by far the better display. Ed Bott even mentioned that Surface RT produced a "clearer, sharper image".

All I am suggesting is, wait till you check it out. No need to get hung up over numbers.

For those who want a Full HD screen, Surface Pro is in the works.

Exactly correct. We need to take into consideration Microsoft's Cleartype software which can more than double the effective resolution. Apple uses a simple pixel-doubling system which will make type on their rectal display even more blockier than on a lower-resolution Surface with Cleartype.