What we know (and don't know) about Microsoft's Surface

At yesterdays mystery Microsoft event, the company unveiled the Microsoft Surface range to a stunned audience. The Microsoft-made tablets are the benchmark for high-end tablet design and come with beautiful hardware to complement all the work Microsoft has put in to making the software - Windows RT or Windows 8 Pro, depending on the tablet - just right for the form factor.

However while a lot was revealed at today's event, a lot of critical information was missing from the procession at today's event. So, to make it easier for everyone searching for info on the tablet we have compiled a list of things we know, things that are possibilities and things we don't know about the Microsoft Surface.

What we know:

  • There are two Surface tablets: an ARM-based one running Windows RT and an Intel-based one running Windows 8 Pro
  • Specs of the Surface tablets show that the ARM-based device is slimmer and lighter than the enterprise-oriented Pro version
  • The displays on both devices are 10.6" - although the RT one is just "HD" (this is presumed to mean 1366 x 768) while the Pro version is Full HD (1080p)
  • The Windows RT Surface will come with either 32 GB or 64 GB of storage while the Pro tablet has 64 or 128 GB
  • The Surface(s) feature built-in kickstands, with the VaporMg tablet body being made from magnesium
  • Both devices feature full-sized USB ports, although only the Pro version has USB 3.0
  • Covers for the Surfaces known as "Type Covers" feature a built in keyboard. They will come in all the Metro colors.
  • The Pro Surface will work with a specially designed stylus.
  • The Pro tablet will feature a third-gen Core i5 CPU from Intel, although the exact model is unknown
  • In a similar situation, the RT version will have an NVIDIA Tegra chipset, again what model is unknown at this stage
  • The Surface will be sold at select Microsoft Stores in the US

What we don't know:

  • The price. Microsoft claim the ARM-based Surface will be priced similarly to other ARM tablets, and the x86 version to be priced like ultrabooks; apart from that extremely vague indicator we have absolutely no idea.
  • Microsoft mentioned the tablets will be available around the general release of Windows 8. We don't know when that is, so really we don't know when the Surface will be available.
  • Will the Surface be available internationally? We asked Microsoft PR in Australia and they said they have "[no] information whatsoever" on its availability, so that's up in the air.
  • Other specs, such as the exact chipsets, RAM, cameras, connectivity, display type and full dimensions of both tablets
  • Battery life. We know the size of the batteries as 31.5 W-h (RT) and 42 W-h (Pro) but that doesn't really give much clue into what the battery life is.
  • Who is really manufacturing the Surface. It's not a branded device, but like the iPad, Microsoft is almost certainly not manufacturing it directly

Our guesses:

  • Price: The ARM-based Surface will probably retail for around $500, while the Pro Surface for around $800-900
  • Release: This rests on Windows 8, which indicates October (possibly September) for the RT Surface and January for the Pro Surface
  • Locales: The Surface will almost certainly be available outside North America, although possibly after the USA launch
  • Battery Life: A 31.5 W-h (watt-hour) battery is not enormous, but considering tablets such as the Asus Transformer Pad (with a 22 W-h battery) last eight hours we'll say at least that. Expect less for the Pro Surface.
  • Other specs: This is really up in the air. The ARM tablet will likely have 1 GB of RAM plus a quad-core Tegra 3 as the next-gen Tegra chips (Wayne) are not due until Q1 2013. The x86 tablet will probably have specs similar to that of an ultrabook (2 GB+ RAM plus a CULV Ivy Bridge chip)
  • Manufacturing: We honestly have no idea on this one; it could be anyone.

Do you have your own guesses about the unknowns involved with the Surface line of tablets? Let us know in the comments

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When Microsoft make hardware, it is some of the best hardware you will see or use, unfortunately some of the marketing up until now has been lacklustre, hopefully this will change and they will dive in with everything. If they had marketed the Zune player properly and worldwide it would have given the iPod a good run for its money as it is a far superior product. Same as the surface tablets, if they get the marketing down it will be a big seller.

drazgoosh said,
What's going to happen to the massive Surface table? They were going to sell a newer generation I thought...

Microsoft PixelSense.

I hope your price guesses are way off. I can't see the 64GB Pro model (assuming it is WiFi-only) selling for more than $600 to anyone outside of Business (though maybe that's the plan). The RT version will need to be at or below the Asus Transformer Prime which appears to have similar specs and that's selling for $499 NOW and will likely have it's price reduced either next week. (Rumor is the Transformer Infinity will launch June 25th and either way Google I/O is next week as well). Even if the price reduction doesn't happen next week I have no doubt there will be one before MS can actually launch these things. Heck Amazon will likely launch new 10" Kindle Fire before MS gets these out and it will likely undercut everything else because Amazon can sell them for loss and make up the difference on Amazon Market sales. Microsoft NEEDS to price these things competitively being the new kid on the block even if they offer a better product.

Locales: The Surface will almost certainly be available outside North America, although possibly after the USA launch
==============
Do you mean like the Zune HD in Canada ? wait ... the Zune HD was actually not avalaible in Quebec City, Canada.

I expect it to be avalaible too but who knows ? Anyway i hope it will be sold here unlike the Zune HD (i've never seen a Zune HD in a store here).

If it really will be over $800 for the pro version then that will cost too much and won't sell good. I got a T300 and very happy with it but it didn't cost me but $400 total which was and still is a great deal!

An Apple buddy of mine was prodding me that "it's just another copy". And I had to agree with him.

The IPAD IS in fact just a cheap rip off of the Surface computer that Microsoft introduced before the IPhone. I'm glad MS took their time and didn't release the Surface tablet too early like the IPAD. I'm glad it has ports, and pen, and can run all the legacy Windows apps.

Two thumbs up MS, and you can forgive Apple for copying your idea and pushing it to market early ahead of your dream. They were just eager beavers. Kind of like with that mouse technology they had early on.

jimmyfal said,
An Apple buddy of mine was prodding me that "it's just another copy". And I had to agree with him.

The IPAD IS in fact just a cheap rip off of the Surface computer that Microsoft introduced before the IPhone. I'm glad MS took their time and didn't release the Surface tablet too early like the IPAD. I'm glad it has ports, and pen, and can run all the legacy Windows apps.

Two thumbs up MS, and you can forgive Apple for copying your idea and pushing it to market early ahead of your dream. They were just eager beavers. Kind of like with that mouse technology they had early on.

that's all apple fan talking there... you could say the same thing about the television when it came out from other companies that made it.

Let's hope that they price it starting at $499 (for the ARM version). That would make things very interesting.
But I have a feeling that it won't happen, and it will start at $799.

Astra.Xtreme said,
Let's hope that they price it starting at $499 (for the ARM version). That would make things very interesting.
But I have a feeling that it won't happen, and it will start at $799.

Yep, even on the business front I think it's a hard sell.

I'm not surprised by this announcement, but I don't see the "Pro" one coming in at a price that makes it competitive over a laptop, which is what it's competing against.

The RT is the better market. If it's cheaper than an iPad and more useful, they could sell a lot of them. Right now the Fire is cheaper, but it doesn't do much of anything useful.

threetonesun said,
I'm not surprised by this announcement, but I don't see the "Pro" one coming in at a price that makes it competitive over a laptop, which is what it's competing against.

The RT is the better market. If it's cheaper than an iPad and more useful, they could sell a lot of them. Right now the Fire is cheaper, but it doesn't do much of anything useful.

Well, a "Real" Tablet, like the ones I have been using for the last ten years, IS a laptop plus added features like handwriting capabilities etc. .
The iPad and clones are not a laptop replacement as well the RT version offered by MS.
A Convertible, Pro device is a replacement for a laptop: you do not miss any features of existing, serious, powerful portables plus you have the added capabilities of a "MS Tablet".

I can see the pro being good for business users, cant see the casual consumer buying that or the rt version they will just buy an ipad.

wibble64 said,
I can see the pro being good for business users, cant see the casual consumer buying that or the rt version they will just buy an ipad.

Agreed. It won't make a dent in iPad sales. It'll sell well with us techies, but that'll be its main market.

andrewbares said,

Agreed. It won't make a dent in iPad sales. It'll sell well with us techies, but that'll be its main market.

MS is going back to old tactics?
make the techies use it, they get companies to use it... and the general people buy at home what they use/see/hear at work.

only reason Chrome got famous (except for the adware/bloat campaign from google) is the techies 'forcing' it apon many users computers.

Shadowzz said,
MS is going back to old tactics?
make the techies use it, they get companies to use it... and the general people buy at home what they use/see/hear at work.

only reason Chrome got famous (except for the adware/bloat campaign from google) is the techies 'forcing' it apon many users computers.

Chrome is free to use.

The writer of this article is presuming $500 and $800+ price tags. I'd wager good money, anyone (Average Joe Schmo) looking to dump $500 on a tablet is almost certainly going to go with the established product (and the apple Kool-Aid) iPad. It's not like high-end Android tablets have dented that market.

I'd also wager that the other people looking to get tablets will continue to look towards the cheaper markets like the Kindle (and the Google Nexus Tablet). On a personnel level, I'm done with the high-end tablets and I'm waiting on the Google Tablet.

andrewbares said,

Agreed. It won't make a dent in iPad sales. It'll sell well with us techies, but that'll be its main market.

Just remember that there is also gonna be a pile of tablets from OEMs too not just MS.

I don't know about anything else, but this product (either version) fits *exactly* the niche I was looking for, a compromise between a tablet and laptop, with a decent keyboard and USB capabilities. I'm quite happy, and I think that Win8 has a natural environment in this, being a touch screen with peripherals. I have previously been unhappy with Win8, but it looks like it was designed specifically for *this* and I'll keep Win7 on my PC.

That probably also swings my next smartphone purchase to Windows Phone. Well played.

bogas04 said,
Kills all tablets and notebooks IMO.

Really !!!!

Because you have no idea how it will run, what it will run and what it can do or what software will be available for it.

Microsoft need to get developers going ASAP if they are to avoid a WP7 style ghost (relative) town of apps. While apps are not everything they are for those who inform others who would not necessarily use those apps.

I like the concept but lets see if the reality lives up to the hype.

Depicus said,
Because you have no idea how it will run, what it will run and what it can do or what software will be available for it.

Uh, for the Intel based version - yeah, we know exactly what it will run: Windows stuff. Plus, given that the app concept is part of Windows 8, it's *guaranteed* that there will be a lot of apps around.

Depicus said,

Really !!!!

Because you have no idea how it will run, what it will run and what it can do or what software will be available for it.

Microsoft need to get developers going ASAP if they are to avoid a WP7 style ghost (relative) town of apps. While apps are not everything they are for those who inform others who would not necessarily use those apps.

I like the concept but lets see if the reality lives up to the hype.

I saw the keynote video , it has Ivy bridge version too , it can run everything that notebooks/ultrabooks run today , and run Metro apps and games just like a tablet. I have more than "just an idea".

bogas04 said,

I saw the keynote video , it has Ivy bridge version too , it can run everything that notebooks/ultrabooks run today , and run Metro apps and games just like a tablet. I have more than "just an idea".

Ok grant you that but not on the ARM which will be the cheaper of the two versions. Don't get me wrong, i like the concept but have seen many a concept not hold out to reality. I am worried that nobody got hands on time with it to review.

bogas04 said,

I saw the keynote video , it has Ivy bridge version too , it can run everything that notebooks/ultrabooks run today , and run Metro apps and games just like a tablet. I have more than "just an idea".


yup you can do you photoshop and whatever else on the pro tablet. kinda cool stuff.

Depicus said,

Ok grant you that but not on the ARM which will be the cheaper of the two versions. Don't get me wrong, i like the concept but have seen many a concept not hold out to reality. I am worried that nobody got hands on time with it to review.

Alright i understand

I LOVE IT! I will be getting a Pro 128GB version ASAP for myself.

I want to buy an RT one for my dad, but one thing remains unanswered. Will the RT preview version of Office be upgraded to the full version for free once it is released?

Thief000 said,
I LOVE IT! I will be getting a Pro 128GB version ASAP for myself.

I want to buy an RT one for my dad, but one thing remains unanswered. Will the RT preview version of Office be upgraded to the full version for free once it is released?

One would assume so. Office 2013 won't be fully ready by the time Windows RT is released.

dagamer34 said,

One would assume so. Office 2013 won't be fully ready by the time Windows RT is released.

they why it is stated on the surface website that it comes preinstalled with office preview.

Thief000 said,
I LOVE IT! I will be getting a Pro 128GB version ASAP for myself.

I want to buy an RT one for my dad, but one thing remains unanswered. Will the RT preview version of Office be upgraded to the full version for free once it is released?

I think they will: when MS launched Windows 95 and Office 95 I bought both of them and the Office box included a coupon to claim Access that was not ready at the time of the launch; I received it in the mail after a while.

Microsoft's announcement yesterday was only meant to be given before Google I/O. We all know we are going to see a 7-inch Asus Nexus Android Tablet for $299 or less. The only difference is we are going to see that first over a Windows 8 Tablet. Microsoft just wanted to generate some sort of hype on its tablet. Can't blame them for doing that.

No specs or price were given by Microsoft because those might change according to what Google has to present next week.

NightCrawlerInfinity said,

No specs or price were given by Microsoft because those might change according to what Google has to present next week.

Huh? The only specs that they didn't release were the Nvidia chips and the specific Intel processor.

Also, Microsoft was just recently granted a patent for the cover so it's been speculated that they had this introduction planned for awhile and was just waiting for patent to clear.

NightCrawlerInfinity said,
...We all know we are going to see a 7-inch Asus Nexus Android Tablet for $299 or less. ...

Everything I've seen is $199 or less.

ahhell said,

Huh? The only specs that they didn't release were the Nvidia chips and the specific Intel processor.

Also, Microsoft was just recently granted a patent for the cover so it's been speculated that they had this introduction planned for awhile and was just waiting for patent to clear.

Don't forget battery life. That is huge part of my decision.

Looks irresistible, I might get one too to complement my laptop and desktops, but I do NOT want to replace my desktop PC and its established Win32 ecosystem with the Pro version because Metro UI/Start screen doesn't allow for optimum multitasking and switching like the "legacy" Windows shell (taskbar+desktop+Start menu) does. Hope some day MS realizes that.

You do realize that the RT and the PRO version are geared to different markets, right?

Oh and give it a ****ing rest with your Start Screen nonsense already. We get it! You don't like it.

xpclient said,
Looks irresistible, I might get one too to complement my laptop and desktops, but I do NOT want to replace my desktop PC and its established Win32 ecosystem with the Pro version because Metro UI/Start screen doesn't allow for optimum multitasking and switching like the "legacy" Windows shell (taskbar+desktop+Start menu) does. Hope some day MS realizes that.

Nope, someday you're going to realize Win8 is absolutely no different than Win7. You have the exact same desktop.

ahhell said,
Oh and give it a ****ing rest with your Start Screen nonsense already. We get it! You don't like it.

On the other hand you can try giving your fanboyism a rest that gets the better of you and causes you to lose it. Everyone is free to express his opinion here as many times as they want.

So was this the tablet that was shown at E3 when the guy was demonstrating glass on the Xbox demo?
Cause I really liked that look and function of that tablet and this would make sense

Dear Microsoft:

If you want this to be a success and not yet another failure at launching a new device (ala Kin or Zune), take heed -

Make it available internationally. The US is a big market, but it's not the only market.

Make it at a reasonable price point. The guesses in the article are a great place to start. Establish your foothold, THEN go after the premium that is the iPad. So far the only tablet to make a dent in the market, other than the iPad, is the Kindle fire and that's because it's CHEAP, yet decent.

And finally - DON'T offset a "cheap" tablet by charging a fortune for the accessories. In fact, don't charge a fortune for them in any case. You got away with it with the Xbox, but that's it. Learn from HTC's failed tablets - $60 for the stylus? No way. I know it's tempting to sell that cover for $80 and the stylus for $50, but be sensible.

Kushan said,
Dear Microsoft:
Make it available internationally. The US is a big market, but it's not the only market.

this, please come to Aus

I'm afraid that's likely the case. Unless MS can get manufacturer pricing down like Apple cut throat rate, they'll have two ways of monetizing this:
1. High tablet price, low accessories prices
2. Low tablet price, high accessories prices

flexkeyboard said,
I'm afraid that's likely the case. Unless MS can get manufacturer pricing down like Apple cut throat rate, they'll have two ways of monetizing this:
1. High tablet price, low accessories prices
2. Low tablet price, high accessories prices

Microsoft can afford to take a lose of making these available as they did with the Xbox, they will come in fairly low for pricing just to get Windows 8 a good foothold in the market.

I think Microsoft is having a branding identity crisis as mentioned on Wikipedia:

* Microsoft PixelSense, formerly known as Surface, a surface computing platform for large touchscreen displays

* Microsoft Surface (tablet), a line of tablets running the Windows 8 and Windows RT operating systems.

Type 'Microsoft Surface' into Google and you get the top result as

“Welcome to Surface 2.0 ... X The Surface 2.0 Platform. The New Surface 2.0 SDK is available today. Head over to the new MSDN Developer Centre to get training and more.”

but if you click the link it now goes to the tablet ...... I am confused.... why the branding change? When they first announced the tablet I actually thought it was the original 'Surface' software in a tablet form which would be cool... but no.......?!!?

Am I missing something?

NightHawk2050 said,
I think Microsoft is having a branding identity crisis as mentioned on Wikipedia:

* Microsoft PixelSense, formerly known as Surface, a surface computing platform for large touchscreen displays


When did that happen? It's completely illogical to rename the Surface to PixelSense, as that's only the technology of the Surface 2.0... BTW: Our unit is called Surface 2.0...

Microsoft is having a crisis now as links have stopped working. In google type in 'Microsoft PixelSense' the top result reads:

The Power of PixelSense™
Microsoft Surface brings people together to connect, learn, and decide. It comes to life in a large-format screen that can be used on tables, counters or walls, with new ... http://www.microsoft.com/surface/en/us/pixelsense.aspx

Notice this is the original 'Surface' not the rebranded tablet (iPad copy). If you click the link it goes nowhere??

'We are sorry, the page you requested cannot be found.
See below for search results close to your request, or try a new search.'

Oh dear!!!!!

NightHawk2050 said,
I think Microsoft is having a branding identity crisis as mentioned on Wikipedia:

* Microsoft PixelSense, formerly known as Surface, a surface computing platform for large touchscreen displays

* Microsoft Surface (tablet), a line of tablets running the Windows 8 and Windows RT operating systems.

Type 'Microsoft Surface' into Google and you get the top result as

“Welcome to Surface 2.0 ... X The Surface 2.0 Platform. The New Surface 2.0 SDK is available today. Head over to the new MSDN Developer Centre to get training and more.”

but if you click the link it now goes to the tablet ...... I am confused.... why the branding change? When they first announced the tablet I actually thought it was the original 'Surface' software in a tablet form which would be cool... but no.......?!!?

Am I missing something?


no, Surface is Microsofts touch systems they developed inhouse and sell to bussinesses/consumers, i.e. the business Surface TABLE and the Surface TABLET.

Shadowzz said,

no, Surface is Microsofts touch systems they developed inhouse and sell to bussinesses/consumers, i.e. the business Surface TABLE and the Surface TABLET.

Business Surface TABLE which runs the Surface 2.0 SDK is now all rebranded to "PixelSense" if you go to all links at Microsoft, which are broken at the moment by the way! Try it yourself!! The Surface TABLET does none of the touch features of the previous Business Surface TABLE. It is just a tablet with Windows 8 that looks like an iPAD and runs either Metro or .NET apps depending on the architecture chosen.

It is a shame that the rebranded name does not reflect its predecessors amazing functionality. What were they thinking! Where I work everyone is very confused now.

NightHawk2050 said,
Microsoft is having a crisis now as links have stopped working. In google type in 'Microsoft PixelSense' the top result reads:

The Power of PixelSense™
Microsoft Surface brings people together to connect, learn, and decide. It comes to life in a large-format screen that can be used on tables, counters or walls, with new ... http://www.microsoft.com/surface/en/us/pixelsense.aspx

Notice this is the original 'Surface' not the rebranded tablet (iPad copy). If you click the link it goes nowhere??

'We are sorry, the page you requested cannot be found.
See below for search results close to your request, or try a new search.'

Oh dear!!!!!

Nah, no crisis. Balmer already stated several times that over the next few years, the company is going through a reboot. You have to expect changes with that kind of statement. And its been happening with all of their productions and services.

NightHawk2050 said,
I think Microsoft is having a branding identity crisis as mentioned on Wikipedia:

* Microsoft PixelSense, formerly known as Surface, a surface computing platform for large touchscreen displays

* Microsoft Surface (tablet), a line of tablets running the Windows 8 and Windows RT operating systems.

Type 'Microsoft Surface' into Google and you get the top result as

“Welcome to Surface 2.0 ... X The Surface 2.0 Platform. The New Surface 2.0 SDK is available today. Head over to the new MSDN Developer Centre to get training and more.”

but if you click the link it now goes to the tablet ...... I am confused.... why the branding change? When they first announced the tablet I actually thought it was the original 'Surface' software in a tablet form which would be cool... but no.......?!!?

Am I missing something?

I'm pretty sure they used the Surface Branding as to not alert anyone to the fact that they were making a tablet. If they had of chosen a new name there would of been a paper trail

thenonhacker said,
Anyone else noticed the new Microsoft Logo in the Surface video?

Paul Thurrott said in a post it's a Segoe-based font in the new logo, inspired by Windows 8. I see the Segoe font, but not sure I see the Windows 8 inspiration.

We'll get more info as time goes on, MS doesn't want to spill all the beans now and have nothing till these are released in September or October, which is my guess.

Depending on prices I'm tempted in a Pro version, I like the touch cover tech and I wanted a device that was both a tablet and a notebook when I needed it. I also expect these will be prices less than most Ultrabooks due to the cover tech itself actually.

Watch this: Microsoft's Surface event video (48 minutes) now live via YouTube by The Verge
http://youtu.be/jozTK-MqEXQ
Microsoft unveils its new Windows RT-based tablets at its June 18th event in Los Angeles.

I read specs and honestly, I've no idea what specs. I wish MS give us further info on specs

Edited by calimike, Jun 19 2012, 8:06am :

Here's the direct link to high bitrate video from MS: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us...windows/videogallery2b.aspx

As long as the default works flawlessly, I couldn't care crap if it has a 800mhz cpu or some 9000zillionhertz bits. I like the fact that MS focused on "it just works" instead of tegra this and qualcomn that. Unlike in the android camp where despite amazing hardware, it often still results in lesser than expected performance.

Google has their work cut out for them, let see if the Nexus 7 can be as amazing. Though I think it'll be shoddy quality build if their Nexus smartphone's quality is any indicator.