In June 2012, Microsoft announced a new hardware product called Surface. It is a productivity tablet that will run their Windows 8 Pro operating system and includes a full-size keyboard for proper data input. Will the software giant change the world with this product? Absolutely – at least a part of it.
Microsoft is frequently at its best when it combines it own software with its own hardware, something other technology giants have been doing for decades. Xbox 360 tipped the gaming world on its ear, and Surface is set to do the same thing within the tablet-mobility industry.
Since tablets really hit the mainstream, users have been begging for a true productivity tool. iPad fans have begged Apple to make a version of their tablet with its OSX operating system, but to date they’ve stuck with the scaled-back iOS.
Microsoft heard the call and beat everyone to the punch with Surface, which will run on its Windows 8 Pro operating system. Not only will users have the entertainment features popular on other tablets, they’ll also have a genuine productivity tool when the situation demands it. Surface will forever change the face of tablet computing, and any manufacturer will have to consider the value of continuing with their superfluous entertainment devices, or jump into the productivity markets to compete directly against Surface.
Microsoft introduced two versions of the new tablet, targeted at two distinct and diverse markets.
The “basic” model will run the Windows RT operating system, offer 32GB and 64GB memory options, and have a very fast ARM chipset. This version of Surface is targeted directly at current Apple iPad and Samsung Galaxy tablet users and offers a similar experience and set of features and functionality.
The second option includes the Intel Ivy chipset, will run Windows 8 Pro, has memory options of 64GB and 128GB, a USB 3.0 port for extremely fast external connectivity, and a ClearType HD touch screen. It also includes its own stylus for pen-type input.
Say goodbye to virtual software-based keyboards. Yes, they’re convenient, but for any real input they can become burdensome and frustrating. Microsoft is changing the entire look and feel of the tablet world by offering full-size keyboards in two different styles that also serve as protective covers for the tablets.
The first version is a “touch” keyboard. Its full-size keys and touchpad are flush to the surface for fast data input. The second version offers raised keys similar to traditional desktop and laptop keyboards, as well as a raised touchpad.
When closed, both keyboards are part of a protective cover for the Surface. When opened, the keyboard lies flat on and the rest of the cover serves to hold the tablet at the perfect angle for data input and easy viewing.
Microsoft has been in the software business since its inception, and as a result has relied on Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) to include its operating systems and other software packages in their builds. They have literally been the impetus to a massive hardware industry.
With few exceptions (Xbox and Zune) have they ventured into the hardware business, and this could have a negative impact on OEMs. Would you buy a “surface” from Acer, HP, Asus, or Lenovo if, sitting right next to it is the one stamped “Microsoft?” Will they have the same level of commitment to their hardware standards as Microsoft?
With its Zune MP3 music player, Microsoft (in some instances) actually negatively impacted its partner’s markets only to even eventually see the product fade and ultimately give way to Apple’s iPod line of products.
Microsoft will have to be very careful with its OEMs where Surface is concerned; otherwise, they may wind up with a proprietary piece of hardware that ultimately goes away like Zune.
We know the answer to the former but not the latter. Expect the “basic” version of Surface to be available starting in October, just in time for holiday shoppers. Microsoft will use this to gauge acceptance of its new tablet and to fine-tune its pricing. The more robust version of Surface will emerge sometime in January 2013.
The basic version is expected to compete on price directly against comparable tablets. However, they are not billing their more advanced model as being on par with any other tablets in the industry, which means consumers should not be looking for iPad or Galaxy pricing.
Microsoft never does anything small, so expect the launch of Surface to be the biggest technology event of the year. Look for incentives and offers to make the new productivity table immediately attractive to as many consumers as possible.
Will you get the new Surface tablet?
This is a guest post by Edwin is a technology enthusiast and blogger for USdish, where you can get the best DISH deals.
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