Yesterday, Microsoft showed off their tablet computer Surface. According to the New York Times, it “has the same weight and thickness as an iPad, with a 10.6-inch screen.” According to PC Magazine, it weighs 1.49 pounds, which is about the same as Apple’s iPad. However, it still feels bulky.
It also comes with a built-in kickstand that props up for “watching movies, and a thin detachable cover that will serve double duty as a keyboard.” This sounds awesome. One of the main drawback I see with the iPad and Kindle Fire is that typing articles can be pretty slow and cumbersome.
The Surface runs on a variation of Windows 8 called Windows RT. I’m guessing it’s a lighter version of the operating system made for PC’s. PC Magazine thinks that “Windows 8/RT should be a tablet-only OS; on the PC, the Metro interface feels a bit cartoony. On the tablet, however, Windows RT thrives, inviting exploration through swiping, rather than drilling down through layers of folders and applications. Swiping can be problematic - multiple swipes get old fast, but the interface nevertheless feels fresh and new.”
This sounds like a recurring theme with Windows 8. Because it combines the touchscreen user interface of tablets with a mouse-based UI of PC’s, that can feel schizophrenic at times. Perhaps, Apple is right to keep them separate.
Also noteworthy is that this is the first time Microsoft has custom built the hardware specifically for its operating system. In the past, they left that to PC makers like Dell and HP.
Reporters are only allowed a couple seconds with the device, so it appears that it’s not ready for mass consumption yet. PC Magazine writes, “... there are still bugs to work out - Microsoft's Steven Sinofksy pulled a quick switcheroo on stage, apparently to replace a balky tablet with one that worked properly.”
Apparently, Microsoft will have two versions of the tablet. One will be running on an ARM processor, which is what other tablets are using. This version will also cost about the same as (around $300-$500) and compete with other tablets on the market like the iPad and Kindle Fire.
The other version will run on an intel processor, which powers most PC’s. This version will cost upwards of $1,000 and compete with other thin laptops like Apple’s Macbook Air.
The ARM version will launch this Fall at the same time as Windows 8. The intel version will launch a few months later.
This is definitely a game-changer if the device turns out well. It’s something that a lot of PC users have asked for since Apple debuted the iPad. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a tablet that can run Office and Photoshop? Yes, it would be, and it’s coming this Fall.