Microsoft Surface Windows 8/RT tablets unveiled: specs, features, release date and pricing

June 18, 2012

    Microsoft on Monday unveiled its first tablets ever, a Windows 8 and a Windows RT machine that are both going to be known henceforward as Microsoft Surface. The name seems awfully familiar not only because an earlier report suggested the product will be called Xbox Surface, but also because the company has coined the “Surface” term long ago, although at the time it described a touch-based product that was about the same size of a tablet.

    We have recently wondered what operating system the new Microsoft tablet will run, as some sources suggested the device may not be a Windows RT / Windows 8 product since it’s too early in the game to unveil such a device – Windows 8 is expected to become official at some point this fall, with the first Windows 8 tablets manufactured by third party OEMs to hit stores by Christmas or thereafter. But Microsoft made it clear from the start of the media event, the Surface is a Windows-based product.

     

    Surface appears to be a new flagship device for Mircrosoft, a company best known for its software dominance in the PC operating system business, but also for its console gaming hardware such as the popular Xbox and the Kinect. But more importantly, the Surface is Microsoft’s own Nexus-like device, a tablet meant to show the world, and Microsoft’s Windows 8 PC-making partners, how Windows on a tablet should look and feel like.

    Surface also appears to be a high-end tablet meant to compete directly against the iPad and the most important Android tablets out there from various manufacturers, unlike the Google Nexus 7 that’s supposed to be a very affordable device meant to take on directly the unexpectedly popular (at least for Google and its Android tablet-making partners) Amazon Kindle Fire.

    With that in mind, let’s take a look at the main characteristics of the device, its release dates and pricing.

    Specs and Features

    Here are the main specs and features of the two Surface kinds, Surface for Windows RT and Surface for Windows 8 Pro:

    Surface for Windows RT

    • OS: Windows RT
    • Light: 676 g
    • Thin: 9.3 mm
    • Clear: 10.6-inch ClearType HD Display with 16:9 aspect ratio. Corning Gorilla Glass 2 technology also included.
    • Processor: ARM-based by NVIDIA
    • Energized: 31.5 W-h battery
    • Connected: microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD Video, 2×2 MIMO antennae
    • Productive: Office ‘15’ Apps, Touch Cover, Type Cover
    • Practical: VaporMg Case & Stand, edges angled at 22 degrees
    • Configurable: 32 GB, 64 GB

    Surface for Windows 8 Pro

    • OS: Windows 8 Pro
    • Light: 903 g
    • Thin: 13.5 mm
    • Clear: 10.6-inch ClearType HD Display with 16:9 aspect ratio. Corning Gorilla Glass 2 technology also included.
    • Processor: Intel Core Ivy Bridge
    • Energized: 42 W-h battery
    • Connected: microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort Video, 2×2 MIMO antennae
    • Productive: Touch Cover, Type Cover, Pen with Palm Block
    • Practical: VaporMg Case & Stand, edges angled at 22 degrees
    • Configurable: 64 GB, 128 GB

     

    Accessories

    • Built-in stand – 0.7mm thick (comes with any Surface)
    • Surface Touch Cover – 0.3 mm thick full multitouch keyboard dock that also acts as a magnetic cover, with trackpad included
    • Surface Type Cover – similar to Touch Cover but slightly bigger at 0.5mm, it’s a keyboard with actual keys and trackpad buttons
    • Pen with Palm Book – a pen that magnetizes to the body of the Surface to offer digital ink support

    Microsoft’s execs demoed the product on stage emphasizing its most important features and the design challenges they had to go through to produce this tablet. The device looks, at least on paper, and in the images and video the company showed, like a worthy iPad rival, and certainly a tablet that could become a tough Android tablet competitor in the months to come. But on the other hand, and most importantly, the Surface may become a Windows RT / Windows 8 tablet competitor and therefore cannibalize on sales from Windows partners, something that may not necessarily suit the needs of the company.

    Unlike Windows Phones, which are yet to become a worthy third player in the smartphone business, Windows 8 may become a lot more popular as a tablet OS. The only thing we don’t know at this point is how reliable the new software will be on tablets, and wether users will enjoy a Metro UI-based Windows 8 tablet as much as they appreciate other tablet designs.

     

    Release Date and Pricing

    The Surface, while interesting enough for tablet fans, will not be available in stores for quite a while now. The company revealed that it took a lot of time to design it –  we kind of appreciate the fact that the device was not leaked in the past months – and it will take a lot of time to see it in stores. Unfortunately Microsoft is not ready yet to share actual launch details and pricing details for the Surface at this time, but the execs mentioned more than once the fact that the device will be priced quite competitively, or better said, the two Surface versions, ARM-based and Intel-based, will each come with competitive prices compared to their direct rivals.

    The ARM model is said “to be competitive with a comparable ARM tablet” and it will be available in store at the same time Windows 8 launches. The Intel model will be a bit more expensive with a price comparable to Ultrabook-class PCs, which are generally more expensive than traditional laptops. The Intel model will also be available only later down the road, around 90 days after the ARM-based Surface hits stores. If I’m reading correctly between the lines the Windows RT will be the really affordable version, but then again if you want Office 15 and other perks the Windows 8 Pro model will offer then you’ll have to be ready to shell out more dollars for it.

    With that in mind, it’s probably safe to say that this winter we’ll have quite a lot of tablets fighting for the cash of the consumer including the iPad, the iPad mini (if certain rumors are to be believed), the Google Nexus 7, the Amazon Kindle Fires (more than one model, again if certain rumors are to be believed), various flagship Android tablets from important Android makers, the Microsoft Surface models, and various other Windows-based tablets coming from other OEMs.


    What tablet are you buying this year?

    Show Press Release

    LOS ANGELES — June 18, 2012 — Today at an event in Hollywood, Microsoft unveiled Surface: PCs built to be the ultimate stage for Windows. Company executives showed two Windows tablets and accessories that feature significant advances in industrial design and attention to detail. Surface is designed to seamlessly transition between consumption and creation, without compromise. It delivers the power of amazing software with Windows and the feel of premium hardware in one exciting experience.

    Surface: A New Family of PCs for Windows
    June 19, 2012
    Conceived, designed and engineered entirely by Microsoft employees, and building on the company’s 30-year history manufacturing hardware, Surface is designed to seamlessly transition between consumption and creation, without compromise.

    Advances in Industrial Design

    Conceived, designed and engineered entirely by Microsoft employees, and building on the company’s 30-year history manufacturing hardware, Surface represents a unique vision for the seamless expression of entertainment and creativity. Extensive investment in industrial design and real user experience includes the following highlights:

    Software takes center stage: Surface sports a full-sized USB port and a 16:9 aspect ratio – the industry standard for HD. It has edges angled at 22 degrees, a natural position for the PC at rest or in active use, letting the hardware fade into the background and the software stand out.

    VaporMg: The casing of Surface is created using a unique approach called VaporMg (pronounced Vapor-Mag), a combination of material selection and process to mold metal and deposit particles that creates a finish akin to a luxury watch. Starting with magnesium, parts can be molded as thin as .65 mm, thinner than the typical credit card, to create a product that is thin, light and rigid/strong.

    Integrated Kickstand: The unique VaporMg approach also enables a built-in kickstand that lets you transition Surface from active use to passive consumption – watching a movie or even using the HD front- or rear-facing video cameras. The kickstand is there when needed, and disappears when not in use, with no extra weight or thickness.

    Touch Cover: The 3 mm Touch Cover represents a step forward in human-computer interface. Using a unique pressure-sensitive technology, Touch Cover senses keystrokes as gestures, enabling you to touch type significantly faster than with an on-screen keyboard. It will be available in a selection of vibrant colors. Touch Cover clicks into Surface via a built-in magnetic connector, forming a natural spine like you find on a book, and works as a protective cover. You can also click in a 5 mm-thin Type Cover that adds moving keys for a more traditional typing feel.

    An Amazing Windows Experience

    Two models of Surface will be available: one running an ARM processor featuring Windows RT, and one with a third-generation Intel Core processor featuring Windows 8 Pro. From the fast and fluid interface, to the ease of connecting you to the people, information and apps that users care about most, Surface will be a premium way to experience all that Windows has to offer. Surface for Windows RT will release with the general availability of Windows 8, and the Windows 8 Pro model will be available about 90 days later. Both will be sold in the Microsoft Store locations in the U.S. and available through select online Microsoft Stores.

    Contributing to an Expanded Ecosystem

    One of the strengths of Windows is its extensive ecosystem of software and hardware partners, delivering selection and choice that makes a customer’s Windows experience uniquely their own. This continues with Surface. Microsoft is delivering a unique contribution to an already strong and growing ecosystem of functional and stylish devices delivered by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to bring the experience of Windows to consumers and businesses around the globe.

    Additional Product Information

    Surface for Windows RT

    OS: Windows RT

    Light(1): 676 g

    Thin(2): 9.3 mm

    Clear: 10.6” ClearType HD Display

    Energized: 31.5 W-h

    Connected: microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD Video, 2×2 MIMO antennae

    Productive: Office ‘15’ Apps, Touch Cover, Type Cover

    Practical: VaporMg Case & Stand

    Configurable: 32 GB, 64 GB

    Surface for Windows 8 Pro

    OS: Windows 8 Pro

    Light(1): 903 g

    Thin(2): 13.5 mm

    Clear: 10.6” ClearType Full HD Display

    Energized: 42 W-h

    Connected: microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort Video, 2×2 MIMO antennae

    Productive: Touch Cover, Type Cover, Pen with Palm Block

    Practical: VaporMg Case & Stand

    Configurable: 64 GB, 128 GB

    (1), (2). Actual size and weight of the device may vary due to configuration and manufacturing process.

    Suggested retail pricing will be announced closer to availability and is expected to 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.

    For more information about Surface, visit http://www.surface.com.

    Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

    Some information relates to a prerelease product, which may be substantially modified before it is commercially released. Microsoft makes no warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information provided here.

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    Comments

    • Edward Johnson

      still have to wait a few months (or maybe years) because the metro app store right now is too bad

      • Cole Raney

        But it’s running windows 8. The same OS that will be on computers. You wot have to worry about content. Because it will be there

        • Edward Johnson

          if you get the Windows 8 Pro version, then yeah, you’ll have the same content like you have on your computer.
          but if you get the Windows RT version, then you won’t have desktop apps, you’ll only have metro apps, and as i know, the metro app store has about 99 apps.

          • George

            True, but the developing environment for metro apps is easier comparative to IOS/Android so….in the near future we could have some neat apps.

          • 8PAQ

            Which is only 78 less than Android tablet optimized apps. Ooooh no I didn’t!

      • http://www.facebook.com/emielzuurbier Emiel Zuurbier

        Of course the App store is low on apps, becouse the OS hasn’t been
        offically released yet. Did the iPad have 1000 apps before lauch? No. So yeah you’ll have to wait a few months until this tablet has been released and Windows 8 is offically released.

        • Edward Johnson

          lol, that’s exactly what i said, we have to wait.
          so what are you trying to say here?

    • AppleFUD

      really?

    • paulrr_5011

      Wow! Microsoft might have done something good here for a change! First look at these tablets are impressive! Watch out Apple and Google better get off it’s butt or it will have it’s tail in between it’s legs on the tablet business.

    • Batman

      It looks cool, or maybe I’m just a nerd and love new products ;P

    • Robin

      I will get this for sure.

    • Mike Minor

      And if you do not have a perfectly flat surface to use the typecover on?

      • Bobby

        Well, what do you do with other keyboards when you don’t have a perfectly flat surface?

    • http://www.androidauthority.com Derek Scott

      Windows tablet = Fail
      Microsoft has no juice, they aren’t able to adapt quick enough to consumer trends & demands. They prob will capture a small % of the market but they will never be a major contender in this industry.

      • St. Henry N. Neufville

        From Africa. I am very excited!!!

        It’s too soon to judge!! From what I see, this new gadget from Microsoft is the best I have seen to date in its generation. But, there is still room for improvements. Example:- projector capabilities for presentation, for making telephone calls (cellphone capabilities);etc. I will like to have a consolidated gadget- all -in-one.

        so far, this is a welcomed development, but price??If it is too expensive, they will lose the market. They need to be moderate to gain the upper hand over Apple and increase cost with the next version. And Africa? Please consider simultaneous distribution worldwide.

    • Aziz Farhi

      Not gonna switch anyways xd, i’ll keep my lovely iPad2 and maybe buy the 7inch one.
      thought i may give windows a chance and check out its tablet.

    • MasterMuffin

      Looks cool, if I had the money I would by the intel based and throw my PC away :)

    • http://www.rapidsofttechnologies.com/mobile-application-development.html Mobile Application Development

      Looks cool but i h ave a doubt that anybody replace it with iPad.

    • AppleFUD

      Looks like MS is pulling an apple and getting all their little paid shills out commenting on every article about these tablets. Never seen MS get so many glowing comments about something no one could really examine full on and has so little real information.

      Every MS fan should be pissed about his announcement. It was a fail! Why?

      MS gave NO
      Pricing????????????????????????????????????????????????
      Battery life?????????????????????????????????????????????
      Launch date????????????????????????????????????????????
      No real hands on for anything — software or the keyboards, only limited touching

      This announcement is one step away from HP’s TouchPad announcement.

      Sure, the tablets look better but what in the hell does “competitively priced” mean? Competitive to other tablets (iPad & Kindle Fire)? Ultrabooks? Mac Book Pro?

      When they announce that these things won’t be ready for another six months or are ~$1,000 dollars then how great are they going to be?

      The only thing this announcement told me was, don’t wait to buy an Asus Transformer or some other Android tablet because MS has lost the plot and are no where near ready to enter this market competitively.

    • Edward Johnson

      it will be extremely expensive, like an ultrabook, so i don’t think i will buy it

    • http://twitter.com/rudresh26 Rudresh Pramanik

      The h/w looks good, now the s/w integration needs to be verified about wht variety it can offer. the apps store will be populated if the OS become hit. Ipad is never impressive other than display and quite frankly, Apple did not improve much over 1st gen Ipad much apart from display and minute HW upgrade.

      So good start Microsoft, hope you roll this out soon before the hype fizzles out.

    • J J

      i wonder how much battery life compares between the 2 versions

    • MasterMuffin

      Surface pro + type cover + 128gb memory = my next tablet or maybe my next laptop:)

    • Jimstar

      the price is $599.00

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