Microsoft announce 'Surface'
Last night, Microsoft announced Surface - a 10 inch tablet designed for Windows 8 and targetted firmly at taking a chunk out of the iPad's market share. The good news is, rather than just give us a new slab, the Windows giant has at least gone some way to tackling some, if not all, of the problems that today's iOS and Android tablets have.
There are two versions of Surface in the offing - the ARM/Tegra based Surface which runs the slightly more limited Windows RT and the Intel-based Surface Pro which offers the full Windows 8 experience. Surface integrates a kick stand making it an ideal portable media device and the cover (which comes in all sorts of colours) doubles up as a new ultra-flat keyboard. Surface also features a DisplayPort connection to allow high-quality and high resolution connections to external devices AND a full size USB2 connector which has all the flexibility that we're used to with Windows devices.
The ARM device will be a svelte 9.3mm thick and comes in 16 or 32GB flavours, while the Intel-packing beast will be 13.5mm and will be slightly heavier and will be offered in 64 and 128GB options. Both versions of the hardware feature a MicroSD slot for further expansion and 1080p displays (they don't quite hit the density of the iPad 3, but we can live with a 208ppi resolution).
We can also expect front and rear cameras, Gorilla glass screen and 2x2 MIMO Wifi antennae which promises to give the Microsoft tablet a much better Wifi reception than any others. A stylus is also supported and can be stored by magnetically attaching to the body of the tablet.
They may be late to the party, but with Surface, we think Microsoft might just have a chance of not only recapturing some market share, but also deal a devastating blow to Android in the tablet market space. Apps won't be an issue - you can run ANY Windows software here - we have a desktop-level OS in it's most portable form factor so far. If you can't tell, we're actually quite excited by this announcement.
We don't expect Surface to be cheap - we're expecting the ARM variant to cost the same as similarly specced iPads while the Intel Pro version is going to be firmly aimed at the top end of the market. All Microsoft say is it will be 'competitive' so we don't anticipate any attempts to significantly undercut the competition.