Microsoft Surface: time to ditch the Apple iPad?
Tech giant moves into hardware with tablet it hopes will beat Apple
MICROSOFT yesterday unveiled the first computer it has ever built, Surface, a device to compete directly with Apple's iPad. The tablet is meant to showcase Windows 8, due out in October, which has been built specifically for tablet and touchscreen devices.
No release date for Surface has been set yet. "The Surface is a PC, the Surface is a tablet and the Surface is something new that we think people will really love," CEO Steve Ballmer said at the event in Los Angeles, which lasted under an hour.
While detailed testing has yet to take place, first looks and specs are out. So, is it time for laptop aficionados unconvinced by iPads to think about making the shift to tablets with Surface?
What will I get if I buy a Surface?
There are two versions of the Surface: a "consumer device" aimed directly at the Apple iPad, and another, larger machine designed to compete with lightweight laptops. Both include a keyboard that doubles as a cover, and both will be powered by versions of the new Windows 8 operating system.
Any technical details yet?
Yes. The ARM-based consumer version of Surface, running Windows RT, is 9.3mm thick, weighs 676g and is available in 32GB and 64GB versions. (By comparison, the most recent iPad measures 9.4mm and weighs 662g with Wi-Fi.) The second Surface is an ultrabook-class tablet built on Intel's Core i5 processor, running Windows 8 Pro. It is 13.5mm thick, weighs 903g and comes in 64GB and 128GB versions.
What about this hyped keyboard?
The Surface has a built-in kickstand and magnetic cover, which also acts as a touch keyboard. "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,” the company says, adding that the cover clicks into Surface via a built-in magnetic connector. Users can also buy a 5mm-thick Type Cover that "adds moving keys for a more traditional typing feel”, says T3.
Can I use Surface for more than Apps and games?
Microsoft executives repeatedly used the words "no compromises" to describe the tablet computers they envision running Windows 8 and Windows RT - which means users will be able to run work tools like Microsoft Word or Excel, not just watch movies or surf the Web.
Who is Surface aimed at?
The millions of consumers who like the look of an iPad but can't justify a device that won't replace their laptop. And however many the iPad sells, there will always be more people who want one than have already got one: if Microsoft can corner that market, then Windows 8 will be its greatest success, says The Daily Telegraph.