Microsoft made quite a splash today in announcing their brand new Surface tablet, a device the company is confident can compete with Apple’s super popular iPad. Microsoft had indicated that a “major announcement” was coming at today’s press release, and the company definitely delivered.
The Surface comes in two flavors – a super-thin 9.3mm version, and a bigger, heavier, and more powerful 13.5mm version. All of the images and features highlighted on Microsoft’s website is for the 9.3mm version, so we’ll focus on that. The Surface comes in several vibrant colors, a distinct difference from Apple’s more classic white and gray tones. At 9.3mm, the Surface is just barely thinner than the latest iPad (which stands at 9.4mm in depth). Microsoft’s Surface, however, has a larger screen, which at 10.6″ is almost a full inch bigger than the iPad’s. The display is a ClearType HD system, which will be interesting to test against Apple’s stunning Retina Display technology.
So far, Microsoft has been quiet on the processing power specs, so we can’t compare that just yet to the iPad. Nevertheless, two additional aspects of the Surface are quite different from the iPad – the mobile operating system, and the inclusion of a keyboard/trackpad. The Surface runs a new version of Windows call Windows RT, which looks familiar to its Windows Phone mobile OS but is optimized for functions more likely to be performed on a tablet, like document processing and editing. And unlike Windows Phone, which Microsoft licenses to various smartphone manufacturers (most notably, Nokia), the Windows RT software will be exclusively for Microsoft-specific devices.
In terms of hardware, perhaps the biggest difference between the Surface and the iPad is the inclusion of a keyboard/trackpad that also functions as a cover for the device. Flip open the cover and the keyboard/trackpad combo is revealed. Since a tablet-specific version of Office is included in Windows RT, a true keyboard definitely seems necessary for the Surface in order for users to maximize its usability. However, for users who prefer to use the tablet as is, the keyboard/trackpad cover is easily removed.
No word on pricing or release date has been released by Microsoft yet, but we’ll be sure to have that information for you as soon as it is released.
Microsoft has battled Apple before with its Zune MP3 player, but despite heavy advertising, the product failed to gain any significant marketshare and only lasted for a few years. Do you think Microsoft will be successful this time around? Let us known in the comments!