Microsoft Surface – Not a table, a tablet

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All these years of spies telling us about the ‘table’ that the nerds in Redmond are calling the ‘Microsoft Surface‘, and the whole time we didn’t know they were silenced before they could finish saying ‘tablet‘.
The official video from Microsoft. A bit skimpy with the details.

We know Microsoft actually wanted to make a table called Surface, if you haven’t seen enough of it on Hawaii Five-O, there was a demonstration of D&D on it:
Yep, the link in the video description from 2010 takes you to the right spot..

The tablet was ready before the table, so the name ‘Surface’ was on the table for the new tablet. What?!

So confusion over names aside, what’s under the ‘Surface’ of this new gizmo?

– Rare materials use
– Built in kickstand
– Cover acts as magnetic KB/Trackpad

Two versions:

Windows 8 Professional
– Intel 22nm Core i5 Ivy Bridge
– 13.5 MM Thick
– 903 grams
– 10.6″ Full HD Touch Display (1080p?)
– Magnetic stylus w/digital ink support
– USB 3.0
– Mini Display Port
– MicroSDXC slot
– Up to 128GB of storage
– Larger 42Wh battery
– Will be delayed by three months following Windows 8

Windows 8 RT
– NVIDIA Tegra ARM Processor
– 9.3 MM Thick
– 676 grams
– 10.6″ HD Touch Display (1366 x 768?)
– USB 2.0
– Micro HDMI Video Port
– Micro SD slot
– Up to 64GB of storage
– 31.5Wh battery
– Will be available with Windows 8 (this fall)

So the full tablet will be for people that run or create Windows applications, want full compatibility with existing apps, and want to trade a lighter/more portable tablet for more options. If the stylus is included or a very inexpensive accessory it may make this version appealing to students and business types that hate flipping through hand written notes searching for something that could be found instantly if it was digital.

The RT version will be for the minimalist that only needs to run core applications that are compatible with the RT version of Windows 8 and it’s ARM processor. This version should not only be lighter but also have stronger battery life making it ideal as a reader or for watching DVD quality movies.

Unless you are developing ARM based Windows 8 applications, no programmer will want the RT version since it cannot run applications that haven’t been ported to ARM. That means if you code up solutions for yourself, you’ll either have to re-compile for ARM or avoid that platform.

Not having tried the RT version of Windows 8 I can only assume the browser choices will be anything you can possibly think of, as long as you always think of “Internet Explorer 10”. This was discussed in our post on browser options for Windows 8 ARM edition.

Design Details – First impressions are everything!

Rumour has it that the ‘kick stand’ was a really hard design choice because it ruined the ‘flow’ of the product shape, regardless of how essential it is in practice. To make-up this design shortfall they apparently over-engineered the hinge system to have the ‘feel’ of a luxury car door??

If that wasn’t exotic enough, the case of the Surface is made from a special magnesium process called ‘vapor-depositing’ which results in an amazingly thin/strong material which is still cost concious enough for mass production.

Personally, if I was Microsoft, and I wanted to kick some Apple hiney all over Silicon Valley, I would have dipped into my XBox parts bin and made a “Pro 360” version of the surface including:
– Built in Kinect motion controller
– Bluetooth controller support
– Embedded 3D Graphics hardware
– Special ‘kit’ for XBox owners that allows a ‘mobile’ mini-game to be saved to an ‘authorized’ client on the owner’s Surface for each game in the XBox owner’s game library

If you give your tablet exclusive perks that worked exclusively with your console, you might actually make your most loyal consumers feel like they made some savvy choices. It’s what Apple does this all the time. 😉

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