Video: Microsoft Surface tablet unveiled for Windows 8
Microsoft has revealed the Surface Tablet, the first computer it has ever made itself.
Speaking at an event in Hollywood chief executive Steve Ballmer said the two touchscreen devices, which are likely to launch from October, made “no compromises” between tablet and PC capabilities.
Two versions were demonstrated, one running Windows RT, the new version of Windows that resembles Windows Phone and uses low power processors, and another running the full Windows 8 and using traditional Intel chips.
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 were announced, some specifications were released. 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.
Critical reaction to the devices was mixed, with analysts impressed by Microsoft’s attention to detail and industrial design, but many wanting more information on the new devices. Joshua Topolsky, Editor in Chief of technology website the Verge tweeted “I do not think the Surface can be written off”. Prominent Mac commentator John Gruber conceded that Microsoft would sell a lot of its innovative new cases if they made them for Apple iPads.
Microsoft emphasised that the devices were fully fledged computers designed to be used for everything that a computer can offer. In a Microsoft press release, the company claimed “Surface sports a full-sized USB port and a 16:9 aspect ratio – the industry standard for HD. It has edges angled at 22 degrees, a natural position for the PC at rest or in active use, letting the hardware fade into the background and the software stand out”.
Although Microsoft has a long and largely successful history of making computer hardware such as mice and keyboards, as well as the popular Xbox video games console, it has previously relied on other manufacturers to produce PCs. Although nobody would comment on how those relationships will be affected, Mr Ballmer said “We want to give Windows 8 its own companion hardware innovations.
Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg, however, told the New York Times, “Microsoft felt they could not rely on others to deliver on their vision for Windows 8 in mobile computing.”
The devices will take on both Apple’s iPad and the new ‘ultrabook’ laptops that manufacturers are pushing themselves. Microsoft itself has also previously made a large, table-sized computer called Surface, using Samsung.