Image Source: The Verge
Yesterday evening Microsoft held a special event to announce their new tablet / PC called Surface. Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer described it as being a PC and a tablet – and also described it like so:
Something new, something different, it’s a whole new family of computing devices from Microsoft.
There’s already a Surface site with some details and specs on the Surface devices (there are two), a promo video and a photo gallery – give that a look to get a good introduction to Surface.
I followed several liveblogs covering the event last night and I’ve got some quick thoughts on Surface, based on what we’ve seen and heard so far. Here they are in no particular order:
Microsoft Still Hate the Idea of a Post-PC Era: Throughout the event there was a lot of emphasis on the importance of desktop apps and Windows (a desktop OS) and on Surface being both a PC and a tablet, with PC even being mentioned first:
Because of Windows 8, the Surface IS a PC. The Surface IS a tablet
– There are two models of the Surface – one uses an ARM-based processor and looks to be more consumer targeted and runs the Windows RT operating system. The other, described as the Pro model, runs a more powerful Intel processor and runs Windows 8 Pro.
– There were a few statements during the event that sounded more than a little like Microsoft taking some pages from the Apple and iPad playbook – like these two that echo Apple’s general approach:
We believe that any intersection between human and machine can be made better when every aspect of the experience, hardware and software, are considered together.
We designed Windows 8 for the world we know, in which most computers are mobile.
And this one which reflects one of the strong points of the iPad since Day 1 – the fact that the tablet disappears and lets you focus on just a single app or activity:
It was important that we have the hardware fade to the background for this product
– Another theme that came across strongly is the idea of Surface as being all about the ability to create content anywhere, anytime (perhaps as an allusion to the misguided idea that the iPad is primarily a device for ‘consumption’).
– There are some interesting ideas and innovations for Surface. Just as one quick example, the cover has similar features to the Apple Smart Cover for the iPad, but also doubles as a keyboard. The Surface will run Microsoft Office and other desktop class apps – this will have great appeal for at least some corporate and power users.
– In a fitting touch, given Microsoft’s very late arrival in the tablet arena, the event kicked off more than 40 minutes late. Seriously, the first 40+ minutes of live blogging was all about ‘we’re still standing outside’ or sitting in an empty hall.
– The announcement did not include a specific release date or pricing details. The closest we got was that the RT model will be released alongside Windows 8 and will be priced ‘in line with similar ARM-based tablets’ and the Pro model will come out 90 days later and be priced in line with ultrabook PCs.
This sounds like the RT model will be priced at around the same level as the iPad – a price level that hasn’t been successful for any iPad rivals thus far. I looked around a little at ultrabook pricing last night and saw mostly price points from $700 to $1,500. That sounds like a price aimed at competing with netbooks and laptops more than iPads.
– I also don’t think we heard anything at all about 3G/4G connectivity for the Surface. Maybe I missed it but it seems like they may be WiFi only devices.
Although Microsoft have borrowed some ideas from Apple, I think they at least are offering something with a lot more differences and fresh ideas than the vast majority of Android rivals we’ve seen thus far. I’m certainly interested in looking at the RT model, or both even if the prices are viable for me.
Now we go back to waiting, to hear when Surface comes out and what it costs.
What do you all think of the Surface? Will you be thinking about buying one?