Microsoft Surface tablet to be launched in October
MICROSOFT’S first tablet, called Surface, will launch on October 26 at the same time as the Windows 8 operating system.
Writing in its annual report, Microsoft confirmed: “The next version of our operating system, Windows 8, will be generally available on October 26, 2012. At that time, we will begin selling the Surface, a series of Microsoft-designed and manufactured hardware devices."
The announcement applies only to one version of the two Surface Microsoft will sell. The device, based on ARM processors rather than Intel's, is the first computer the Windows-maker has ever produced itself. The company warned that it, and the more powerful version that will use Intel chips and come early in 2013, may have an impact on profit margins.
The new Windows 8 operating system offers a mode that looks like Windows 7, called Desktop, and a new version that uses the same ‘Metro’ interface that is available already on Windows phone, making a tablet version's success particularly important.
Microsoft is hoping that its new hardware will allow users to replace their Apple iPads and Windows 7 laptops with new Windows 8 tablets.
Although no prices have yet been announced, Microsoft has claimed the devices will cost a “competitive” amount. Some specifications have already been released, including that the two devices will be 9.3mm and 13.5mm thick respectively, and both will feature 10.6” HD displays and a kickstand so they can stand up for users to, for instance, watch films. They will weigh 676g and 903g respectively, and also both come with a new case incorporating a thin keyboard. The Pro Version offer up to 128GB of memory, while the RT will come with either 32GB or 64GB.
Microsoft emphasises that the devices are fully fledged computers designed to be used for everything that a computer can offer.
Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg said “Microsoft felt they could not rely on others to deliver on their vision for Windows 8 in mobile computing.”
In its annual report, Microsoft claims Windows 8’s “success depends on a number of factors including the extent to which customers embrace its new user interface and functionality, successfully coordinating with our OEM partners in releasing a variety of hardware devices that take advantage of its features, and attracting developers at scale to ensure a competitive array of quality applications. We expect to incur substantial marketing costs in launching Window 8 and associated services and devices, which may reduce our operating margins."