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Microsoft Announces 'Surface' Tablet 712

MrSeb was one of several submitters to write in about Microsoft's foray into the tablet hardware market. From the article: "At its much-discussed 'big unveil' this evening, Microsoft did indeed launch a tablet — but rumors that the device would showcase a Barnes & Noble partnership were misplaced. Instead, Microsoft showed a ... device that integrates a better keyboard option than typing on the screen without adding size or weight. That's where the new keyboard — which doubles as a screen cover — kicks in. At 3mm thick, it adds virtually nothing to the device's size, but it opens up a world of inputs. There are two covers available — the Touch Cover (very thin) and the Type Cover (with proper, tactile keys). Microsoft is touting the device's magnesium body, vapor-deposited construction, full PC functionality, and additional features like being the first tablet to showcase a 2×2 MIMO wireless antenna. Windows RT (ARM) and x86 versions are both in the works, with the x86 version apparently having a higher quality screen. No word on hardware specs yet; Microsoft is claiming it 'rivals the best ultrabooks' and uses less power than the Core i5." Microsoft has a launch site with a few pictures. There is a vague spec sheet: the x86 version is slightly thicker and has a larger battery (and comes with a pen) than the ARM tablet, but that's about all it reveals. Update: 06/19 16:06 GMT by T : Nick Kolakowski at GeekNet's SlashCloud says this may be Microsoft's best chance to compete in a cloud-centric mobile computing world.
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Microsoft Announces 'Surface' Tablet

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  • Wait, Surface? (Score:5, Informative)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:08AM (#40368167) Journal
    Isn't "Surface" the name of their SDK for both devices and Windows 7 computers [] that's been available since 2009 []?

    Also, is this just like the Courier [] or will we one day actually see these devices like the Zune?
    • Re:Wait, Surface? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:37AM (#40368381)
      Close. Surface is their multi-touch-for-high-values-of-'multi' large-display technology, but yes, it is rather silly of them to use one name for two unrelated products.
    • Zune or Xbox? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Morty ( 32057 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:38AM (#40368391) Journal

      The most important question is, which Microsoft model will this emulate, Zune or Xbox?

      Zune -- MSFT enters an existing market with a device that is putatively well-speced and well-priced. But MSFT fails to get the details right, and has a crappy advertising campaign. MSFT sinks tons of money into it and eventually gives up.

      Xbox -- MSFT enters an existing market with a device that is putatively well-speced and well-priced. But MSFT fails to get the details right, and has a crappy advertising campaign. MSFT sinks tons of money into it and eventually outspends the competitors and fixes enough hardware and software issues that it comes to dominate the market.

      With Zune, MSFT's front-running competitor was Apple. With Xbox, it was Sony and Nintendo. Now, it's Apple again. This does not bode well for MSFT's ability to win through.

      I only see two ways that MSFT can pull through this: (1) they can leverage the Office and desktop monopolies to go after the business space; (2) their sheer desperation to keep from becoming irrelevant will force them to keep spending until they figure it out. With Zune, failure was on the table -- music players did not directly threaten their core Windows business. The iPad and Apple ecosystem, OTOH, now are threatening their core Windows business.

      • Re:Zune or Xbox? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Verunks ( 1000826 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:58AM (#40368611)
        I think that there is one crucial difference though, with zune they didn't bring anything new, it was just another mp3 player, the xbox was successful because they added something that other console didn't have at the time(xbox live), surface seems more like the latter, it's not just another tablet that tries to compete against the ipad, it's a tablet laptop hybrid with an os that seems to be quite good for both
        • by bondsbw ( 888959 )

          Right. Both tablets run Office. The Pro tablet runs everything for Windows.

          That is the key deciding factor for the target market, the consumer who works in a Windows-based office environment.

      • Re:Zune or Xbox? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:59AM (#40368623) Journal
        Given that the two devices shown run OSes that MS licenses to 3rd parties, I'd say that this is halfway between "Playsforsure" and "Zune" in terms of strategy...

        Like 'Playsforsure", and unlike Zune or Xbox, these are Microsoft-based; but based on exactly the same Microsoft stuff that they have been actively pushing 3rd party companies to license(just as there were at least a dozen vaguely-known 'Playsforsure' supporting device makers, plus some unknowns, and several music stores based on the technology).

        However, the fact that MS has bothered to release this at all(in contrast to their history of generally keeping it hands-off when it comes to x86 PCs, aside from spec-nudging based on labelling/driver certification pressures), is much more zune-like. Zune, with its limited set of 'flagship' devices and One Service To Rule Them All replaced 'Playsforsure' after MS became tired of the third party licensees sucking(Some just sucked, period, some built players that nominally supported WMDRM; but were only purchased instead of iPods for various other features, recording, audiophile stuff, FLAC support, etc.).

        This is not a vote of confidence in the Wintel OEMs of the world. Whether MS actually hopes to sell a bunch of these, or just hopes that HP et al. will clone the fuck out of them and sell them themselves; Microsoft has basically stepped up and informed the beige-box pushers of the world that they think that they don't have what it takes to build an iPad killer, even if Windows8 is the best thing since sliced kittens(to be fair, MS is probably right).
      • Re:Zune or Xbox? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Eskarel ( 565631 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @09:39AM (#40369133)

        They didn't so much give up on the Zune, they just gave up on it as a standalone product. It's now a component of the Windows 7 phones, and is actually in a lot of ways superior to the equivalent iPod software. That said, from all accounts when it got released it was just horrible, which was more of the problem. You don't get a lot of second chances in this market. The XBox actually did fairly well, and the 360 essentially wins because it was more powerful than a Wii and cheaper than a PS3(Sony made something that was immensely awesome and powerful but which was just too expensive).

        If the price point on these tablets is right, they might do quite well, whether Microsoft can find the sweet spot between the old gigantically expensive hovercraft they used to sell and the cheap(though still overpriced) crap that flooded the Android tablet market in recent years, is of course a question.

        Windows RT seems quite reasonable and the HTML5ish front end they have will have a lot lower barrier to entry for programmers than XAML does(XAML is incredibly powerful, but it's not exactly something you pick up in an hour or so) allowing some better app UIs to be built. Who knows though.

        That said I'm still yet to see any evidence that a market exists for these things when they're not made and marketed by Apple. Sure most of the Android ones were low priced crap and the few that weren't suffered from using Android when it still sucked, but they still didn't sell well whereas the iPad is a license to print money.

      • Or a third way: (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Pollux ( 102520 ) <speter&tedata,net,eg> on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @09:43AM (#40369181) Journal

        Build it specifically to make up for all or most of the shortcomings of the iPad, which are:

        1) No data ports - Want to plug in a keyboard? Want to plug in a thumb drive? Want to plug in a printer or peripheral of any sort? Fugetaboutit.

        2) Content creation is horrible - Typing a document or entering formulas into a spreadsheet requires a keyboard. That'll cost you an extra $60. And it takes about twice as long to navigate the word processor or spreadsheet software to do what needs to be done. Even after you've created the files, you then need to email them to your computer or use a 3rd party data service if you don't have a Mac.

        3) Terrible to administer in the enterprise - iPads sync to only one computer. iPad storage cannot be backed up & mirrored. Apps and iOS updates must be done one-at-a-time. Apps / software must be Apple-approved and Apple-distributed. iPads were not built for the enterprise, and the enterprise has had to bend over backwards for Apple just to make the iPad work for their business.

        Surface has a USB port. Surface has an included keyboard. Surface has Windows & Active Directory & a platform supported by the vast majority of software companies. I think Microsoft is trying to do what the iPad wasn't built to do: work for business.

        • Re:Or a third way: (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @10:26AM (#40369715)

          1) No data ports - Want to plug in a keyboard? Want to plug in a thumb drive? Want to plug in a printer or peripheral of any sort? Fugetaboutit.

          Millions of unit sales suggest that this isn't as big a problem as you suggest. Want a keyboard? Use bluetooth. Want to use a external storage? Use dropbox or any of the dozens of other online storage sites that allow you to access the same thing over wifi or 3g/4g data. Want to print? Print over the network using AirPrint. I do this occasionally, works great. Want to connect other peripherals? I connect my camera, headphones, and an external battery pack to my iPad all the time. What peripherals specifically do you imagine you need? Or are you just sharing FUD?

          2) Content creation is horrible - Typing a document or entering formulas into a spreadsheet requires a keyboard. That'll cost you an extra $60. And it takes about twice as long to navigate the word processor or spreadsheet software to do what needs to be done. Even after you've created the files, you then need to email them to your computer or use a 3rd party data service if you don't have a Mac.

          If you think that "allowing up to 2x the typing speed of an on-screen keyboard" means these new gimmicky covers are going to be usable and fast as keyboards, you're in for a surprise. Typing lots of data will still require a *good* real keyboard. Yes, it'll cost you $50 bucks or so to buy a bluetooth keyboard. No, it will not take you twice as long to navigate the word processor or spreadsheet software to do what needs to be done. I write documents using an external keyboard and my iPad frequently. It took me less time to get used to working in Pages on the iPad than it did for me to learn how to use the goddamned ribbon interface in Office 2010. And once I've created the files? I save them in Dropbox. Which means they're "just there," waiting for me when I sit down at my computer, ready to edit.

          3) Terrible to administer in the enterprise - iPads sync to only one computer.

          Then it's not an "enterprise" deployment, if your users are syncing and adding all kinds of data themselves on their own laptops.

          iPad storage cannot be backed up & mirrored

          Except that's completely false, too. iPads back themselves up (either to iCloud, or local PC) as a routine part of their sync, and those backups can be both encrypted and copied elsewhere, since they're basically disk images.

          Apps and iOS updates must be done one-at-a-time.

          Uh... what? Are you complaining that Dropbox isn't included in the iOS baseline? I update multiple apps frequently, since I don't check for updates more than once ever two weeks or so. I've never had a problem clicking the "Update All" button, and allowing it to download updates - even *over the air!*

          Apps / software must be Apple-approved and Apple-distributed

          No, they don't. Again, if you don't know that enterprises can roll out the Apple Configurator which will allow you to manage many iOS devices, settings, applications, and even distribute your own iOS apps, built and signed by your company, to your iOS devices, without Apple having a single thing to do with any of it.

          iPads were not built for the enterprise, and the enterprise has had to bend over backwards for Apple just to make the iPad work for their business.

          Since you are completely incompetent and ignorant of the support for enterprise usage that Apple has for the iPad, I suggest you go start reading. Your job may depend on it, friend - it's clear that you have a lot of frustration, but the fact of the matter is, your frustration is born of your own ignorance, and that's easily remedied. Start reading here [], and be amazed!

        • Re:Or a third way: (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @10:27AM (#40369727) Homepage Journal

          Surface has a USB port. Surface has an included keyboard. Surface has Windows & Active Directory & a platform supported by the vast majority of software companies.

          Surface is a laptop.

    • Re:Wait, Surface? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DrgnDancer ( 137700 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:39AM (#40368411) Homepage

      It appears to be a real product that they will sell, like the Zune. Most of the analysts seem to be debating the Wisdom of Microsoft competing directly with its hardware partners. Price point for the Win RT version has been stated as "competitive" with iPad, but the Windows 8 version is looking like it's going to be expensive (~$1000). It's going to compete with ultrabooks, and run i386 Windows software I assume. Still a bit of a risk going so high above the "standard" tablet pricing though.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        yes, it doesn't sound any different than what they've done in the past as far as marketing goes. As they've done before, they end up over priced, under powered and with short battery life. Since we are talking vapor ware again with only prototypes being shown with promises of something( likely different ) 4 months out we can only look at this as a PR stunt and it was probably hastily thrown in to curb the excitement away from what Google plans to announce and release in a week.

        If you don't think it was quic

  • Neat cover ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hattig ( 47930 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:08AM (#40368171) Journal []

    IMO, the keyboard touchpad cover is an interesting (and required for Windows and Office) invention.

    But the low-resolution display (1366x768) on the ARM version is going to compare badly against the iPad 3 and upcoming Android tablets, and the pricing will have to reflect that.

    • Re:Neat cover ... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:17AM (#40368237)

      IMO, the keyboard cover is just what is needed in the tablet space. It is the number 1 selling accessory for the iPad. But I can't shake the feeling that we're gradually building a laptop yet again. Remember the netbooks that started small, limited, and cheap. They gradually grew larger and more functional until they were basically laptops. Further back there were the handheld PC's that started very limited and gradually aded features like a color screen, networking stack, web browser, until they basically resembled mini laptops (albeit still limited in functionality.) Some of them even run Linux.

      • by satuon ( 1822492 )

        Remember the netbooks that started small, limited, and cheap. They gradually grew larger and more functional until they were basically laptops.

        Well netbooks are still small (about 10 inch screen). That's not at all like the regular laptop which is 15.6''. The big difference for me is how much portable they are, I have a netbook and a laptop and if I want to do something quick I open the netbook, it's just more convenient to move it around.

      • Re:Neat cover ... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ozmanjusri ( 601766 ) <> on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @09:06AM (#40368703) Journal
        Yeah, shame nobody's thought of it before.

        "Android keyboard case" 1,735 Results []

      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        IMO, the keyboard cover is just what is needed in the tablet space. It is the number 1 selling accessory for the iPad. But I can't shake the feeling that we're gradually building a laptop yet again.

        Sometimes a good design is a good design. For the obligatory car analogy, there are tadpoles and phaetons, but most buyers prefer four wheels and a roof.
        And portables with keyboards which you can use anywhere, because the base holds them up.
        With the new surface, you need a stationary table. Based on the images I've seen, I don't think it will work on an airplane tray or patch of grass, and definitely not in your lap.

        That it's launched by Microsoft won't really change whether it's adopted or not. We didn

      • by rtfa-troll ( 1340807 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @10:37AM (#40369831)

        IMO, the keyboard cover is just what is needed in the tablet space. It is the number 1 selling accessory for the iPad.

        For me personally; as a person who still reads my mail over SSH; I agree. but..

        But I can't shake the feeling that we're gradually building a laptop yet again.

        This is right 100%. It's a design disaster. The thing about not having the keyboard as standard is that the application designer can never even begin to think he can rely on it being there. This means that all iPad apps work perfectly without keyboards. Even if you have an Android "Transformer" tablet, the fact that most Android tablets don't have keyboards means that all your applications work with or without the keyboard. With the Microsoft tablet the app makers will lose that fear. It's a perfect example where adding more makes things worse. My recent post about Microsoft's social ineptitude [] just begins to feel so prescient.

        Microsoft has killed their partners chances in the market by making it clear that there's a "real" device and the "clone" devices. Now they killed their own device by providing the most terrible screen layout and adding a completely stupid keyboard to it. It's not as if Swype hadn't already solv ed the problem of typing fast on touch screens. Surely Microsoft could have afforded to use that.

    • Re:Neat cover ... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EasyTarget ( 43516 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:17AM (#40368241) Journal

      That 'low res' screen will still look very good, and is way better than most people are used to from current generation of devices (yep, super resolution screens are better, but you really need to put them side-by-side for the difference to be obvious).

      It is what is happening on the display that will make or break this, not whether geeks get a stiffy over it's pixel-count.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:50AM (#40368519)

        Not to mention, those big metro flat-colored squares don't get any sharper at higher rez.

      • Re:Neat cover ... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by DrgnDancer ( 137700 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:52AM (#40368537) Homepage

        I dunno. Work bought a couple of iPads recently for developing a mobile app. While the high res display is non-obvious in things like the desktop or e-mail, anything graphical is quite obviously and noticeably better on the new screens. We pulled up satellite imagery in Google maps and were quite literally shocked by the quality of the images. This was without any lower res screens to compare with initially, it was just obviously better than what we had seen before. After a few minutes someone brought out an older iPad and someone else an older Android tablet so we could do a direct comparison. That made the quality more obvious, but even standing alone, the quality was impressive.

        Of course we're all computer professionals (programmers and systems people), and we work with graphics day to day, so maybe that's part of it. All in all, I was impressed. Honestly, the screen update from my iPhone 3GS to my 4S, while nice and certainly noticeable in a direct comparison, hadn't impressed me all that much. On the larger screen it's *much* more obvious.

    • I think the low resolution display is in part because they factored that display as the most used resolution when designing Windows 8? I remember seeing they did a survey and found that to be the case. It is a shame, though, that they aren't aiming ahead of the target since in this case they are producing the hardware. With Win8 they aiming to make it work for the lowest common denominator.

    • Re:Neat cover ... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ledow ( 319597 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:43AM (#40368443) Homepage

      All the flimsiness of a cheap USB keyboard would still be outweighed by that tacky cover.

      Nice idea to put the keyboard in a cover. But so ridiculously thin means it will either break or the underlying matrix will be destroyed long before the usable life of the product itself. And isn't it just recognition that tablet-only input is insufficient? All you've done is made a laptop with a fancy thin keyboard, in essence. And thin keyboards are hard to type nicely on (travel distance is one of the best metric for judging a keyboard), especially if they are on a hard surface (which is what this would need - so my portable tablet PC now needs a desk to hold the keyboard!)

      I have a roll-up-able keyboard in my parts cupboard. Useful for taking to people's houses to eliminate the keyboard as a problem. Although the keys are thicker, that seems to be through choice because the base surface and connectors are't, and yet it's waterproof, roll-able, costs literally pence, etc. And, despite being 90% rubber, that's infinitely more sturdy than that 3mm thick thing they expect you to type on.

      Having a keyboard is a good idea. The tablet obviously NEEDS a keyboard. Having THAT keyboard, and as your "cover" (so people will rely on it to fend off certain other objects) seems quite stupid.

      I still don't see the advantage of that over, say, a laptop or even just having the tablet on its own.

      • Re:Neat cover ... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @09:37AM (#40369097) Homepage

        I think you're missing the point a bit. I do have an iPad and I do have a cover for it. Typing on it is obviously very annoying, it's a completely flat glass surface after all and the keyboard obviously takes up quite a bit of screen real estate. This looks considerably less annoying and comes "free", but you're still not going to type a novel on it unless you're a masochist. Because of course it's still a tablet, you should use it for what it's good for. This just makes it more flexible to serve more like a laptop in a pinch, just like my phone camera isn't a replacement for a real camera - but very handy all the same.

    • by guidryp ( 702488 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @09:02AM (#40368647)

      Actually at first glance I thought it was kind of neat.

      Then I thought about actually using it and it strikes me as ergonomically FUBAR.

      It has a floppy "hinge", so it doesn't turn this into a laptop. You really can't use it in your lap, as you are reliant on having a table/desk and using the kickstand to support the screen, while the floppy cover just lies there. []

      Asus solves the keyboard much better with the Transformer Tablets that acutally make it into a mini-laptop: []

      The floppy keyboard cover is long on gimmick, short on substance.

  • by Manip ( 656104 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:10AM (#40368193)
    Without realistic battery life estimates and a price this might have well be Vaporware. If Microsoft had a decent track record for producing mobile devices we might be able to let it slide, but the truth is Microsoft's previous attempts at the mobile space have had horrible battery life (e.g. less than two hours).

    My fear is that the Surface will be a wonderful tablet but will wind up with such a short battery life that nobody buys it for that very reason alone.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:31AM (#40368339)

      Don't forget about this marvelous quote on the web site []: Images are design renderings and not photographs...

      Of course there was a functional tablet on the video, but it may be yet another prototype that would be forgotten like the Courier.

    • These are the ways that I was able to determine that it is different than previous Windows tablets:
      • Kickstand
      • Keyboard cover
      • Thinness
      • Weight
      • Windows 8

      But that's not a whole lot.

  • We'll see (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kqs ( 1038910 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:11AM (#40368197)

    If this was an Apple announcement I'd likely be excited, since most new Apple products have lived up to their hype. But I've been burned by Microsoft too many times. Until the products are on sale, until we have detailed specs, until MS proves it can over-deliver and under-price, I don't much care.

    • Re:We'll see (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:27AM (#40368305) Homepage

      I am kind of excited, because unless they locked the bootloader, this will be a cool device for Ubuntu or another linux. Hell Let's install Android ICS on it.
      Android tablet hardware quality is pretty lacking, MSFT will certianly put out a device that is as nicely built as the ipad. And I really want a high end Android tablet.

    • Re:We'll see (Score:5, Insightful)

      by datavirtue ( 1104259 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @09:09AM (#40368743)'s not for sale? Hence the use of the word "Vapor?" Jesus fuck, if it taint on sale then what are we talking about here? What is the reason for telling anyone about it? Is it so we can bow down, do an act of worship, and line up at a Best Buy awaiting its arrival? I don't know anyone who can talk about this right now without looking like a fool.

      • Re:We'll see (Score:5, Insightful)

        by roothog ( 635998 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @10:58AM (#40370149)

        Are you surprised? This has been MS's strategy for the better part of a decade. Try to compete on vapor rather than on what's shipping. A competitor announces that they're shipping, say, a new MacBook, and MS will announce that they've got something flashy and new about to come out. When it finally ships two and a half years later, it's a POS nowhere close to what MS claimed it was going to be.

        Remember everything that MS said was going to be in Vista?

    • Re:We'll see (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @10:12AM (#40369545)

      Part of a typical Apple announcement is also a launch date. Tomorrow, next week, next month: they will always give a date. And a retial price for it. And full specs.

      And of course Apple only announces a product when it's done, and ready to go to the shops. Before what's released are only rumours, but that are always rumours of actual specs - and I suspect they release the rumours only when that function is actually there and ready. That makes it much easier to live up to the hype. What you see is what you get.

  • by GeneralTurgidson ( 2464452 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:13AM (#40368205)
    How else do you CTRL+ALT+DEL a Microsoft operating system?
  • 3 mm thin (Score:5, Funny)

    by SMoynihan ( 1647997 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:15AM (#40368219)

    From the Microsoft release:

    "At 9.3mm, Surface for Windows RT is just thin enough to still sport a full sized USB port."

    So if it was any thicker, it couldn't have such a port?? I know they don't want to say it is thick, but no need to murder the English language in the process.

  • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:15AM (#40368221) Homepage Journal

    One idea that Apple has made good use out of is completely absent from Microsoft's presentation.

    Ships Today!

    Those two words are sometimes as important as the technology being demonstrated. Doing otherwise diminishes any excitement a good presentation brings.

    How this played out to me is, that's nice. Oh, I can't get one? Oh.

    As in, its forgettable.

    Good notes, regardless.
    Integrating the keyboard into the cover. This mitigates one of the biggest issues I have seen people with other tablets have. They do little real note taking and the few who did, well they had laptops or a BT keyboard.

    Microsoft Office integration, will have to see how this plays out but this is the killer app. Integration with current use of Office and the like. Make it seamless please.

  • They've Lost It (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blcamp ( 211756 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:18AM (#40368245) Homepage

    Is this a bad laptop, or a bad iPad wannabe? I can't really tell at this point.

    I've made a career and a living off Microsoft products, and I'm grateful to the life that company has allowed me to provide for myself. But it's clear now they're in decline. They've lost their edge, their focus... their ability to innovate. This is a defensive play, and it's just not gonna fly.

    And I'm not just a consumer and a developer, but an MSFT shareholder. As such, I'd like to see Ballmer get out of Redmond and make way for someone to bring the company back to a leadership position... while there's still time.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Reibisch ( 1261448 )

      I'll no doubt get modded down for this, but why can't it be a new product category? Why does everything have to be considered either a laptop or a iPad?

      • Re:They've Lost It (Score:4, Insightful)

        by phayes ( 202222 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:44AM (#40368453) Homepage

        It needs to be in a category all by itself to avoid its sales figures being completely dominated by the iPad or being a footnote to other Win8 sales.

        That way Microsoft can crow about how they are number one in their category however tepidly the devices sell...

      • Answer to 1. Because it isn't a new product, it is just a tablet pc made thinner. 2. Because people are ignorant or forgetful.

        Tablet pc's (tablets with keyboards/peripheral support, or laptops with touchscreens) have been around since at least 2007 when I bought my first one. Tablets are not new, and neither are their compromise forms. Capacitive screens are newer, but the rest is same-old.
  • by michaelmalak ( 91262 ) <> on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:19AM (#40368253) Homepage
    Microsoft has released the Banana Jr. 6000.
  • Watch the keynote (Score:4, Informative)

    by bencoder ( 1197139 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:21AM (#40368267) []

    From about 10minutes in IIRC. I'm actually pretty impressed with the device(s).
  • Lame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:27AM (#40368303)

    (Posting AC because I'm at work)

    I haven't watched their presentation (and I probably won't) but I somehow suspect their product announcement wasn't anywhere near as interesting as their primary competitor's presentations typically are. What amazes me the most, however, is just how poorly they presented the products to the press. Reading Engadget's review, for example, the review is rife with "but we weren't allowed to touch it so I don't know how good it is" and "we were only able to demo it for a few minutes so who knows" and various incarnations of "we just don't know anything about this product because Microsoft didn't really show us anything important". I simply cannot fathom how they feel that is the way to announce what presumably is an important product for the company. You would think that generating strong interest would be high on their priority list but not having working hardware and/or not allowing the press to meaningfully interact with the device is really the wrong way to go about it...

    While I think their keyboard-in-a-smart-cover is a very cool idea, I don't see anything with the device that impresses me beyond what other companies (and certainly Apple) are offering and their product announcement was sufficiently fumbled that I don't think they even think there's enough in the device to impress people (it's the only reason I can imagine them wanting to keep people at arm's length from the device...).

    • Their strategy is likely more on the order of... What can we do to slow iPad adoption in our core markets? If they can delay purchases for a few quarters it might give them enough time to get Win 8 out the door.

  • by chill ( 34294 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:33AM (#40368349) Journal

    When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Microsoft seems to be making the mistake that tablets are going to fully replace PCs. They aren't. They, like phones, are going to compliment them. Each is a different tool with different strengths and weaknesses.

    There is a reason people don't use iPads and the like for serious spreadsheet and keyboard-based work. They aren't designed for it. Slapping a keyboard in the cover isn't going to change the fact. You can already get keyboards for the iPad and Android tablets.

    Yes, they work in limited scenarios, but that doesn't mean people are going to give up full tactile respone and 27" monitors when doing long typing sessions. You think people have issues with carpal tunnel syndrome NOW, wait until they're doing all their typing on one of those things!

    Most typical office tasks involving the classic Office suite of products aren't going to change. Those tasks still need to be done, and spreadsheets, word processors and heavy data entry aren't going to disappear anytime soon.

    It is the software that drives the hardware. Microsoft knows it. Ballmer's famous "developers, developers, developers" chant is proof of it. Apple knows it, too. This is why they continuously tout the number of apps available for the iPad. And it is why, despite my dislike of Apple's walled-garden approach, I'm getting an iPad. There are apps there to support private pilots that just don't exist on Android (or Windows 8). LOTS more.

    Microsoft will sell a bunch of these, simply because they'll most likely dump a wad of cash into promoting them. But, unless they come up with more compelling reasoning that "you don't have to give up Office" for these, I can't see them passing Android or Apple on the sales charts.

    • Make no mistake that MS doesn't know what it is doing. It is only doing what it knows and it knows PCs. People here on Slashdot are predicting that people will hate Win 8 on desktop and Ballmer must be stupid. I don't think that's the case. They know desktop users will hate it; they don't care. MS sees that consumers are migrating to tablets and consumers don't want Windows tablets. Windows 8 is not about helping consumers. It is about MS trying to force their way into the tablet market. For other

  • Funny (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:35AM (#40368363)
    And the press is already setting it up for failure, comparing it to the Zune and saying iPad at least 20 times in each report. I'm no Microsoft fan-boy, but rabid Apple fanaticism is not much better. How about waiting until the product is actually launched before starting to say how it can never match the iPad?
    • Re:Funny (Score:5, Insightful)

      by blackfrancis75 ( 911664 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @09:07AM (#40368711)

      How about waiting until the product is actually launched before starting to say how it can never match the iPad?

      How about waiting till the product is actually available before unveiling it? As someone else said - this is one thing Apple does that makes their announcements really mean something. There's no evidence given the vague specs that MS can ever match the iPad, and given that they're at least 3 generations behind, it's a fair comment until MS give us some concrete reason to think otherwise.

    • Re:Funny (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sez Zero ( 586611 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @09:07AM (#40368717) Journal

      How about waiting until the product is actually launched before starting to say how it can never match the iPad?

      Or how about Microsoft actually launch the product before actually showing it? Dual-screen Courier comes to mind. Also coming to mind: new iPad and new Macbook Pro, both of which you could buy right after the keynote.

  • by hishamaus ( 1991142 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:36AM (#40368369)
    I'd be very interested to know what other manufacturers that buy Windows licenses think of this. I mean Dell, Samsung, Asus ... etc
  • But... (Score:5, Funny)

    by zig007 ( 1097227 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:38AM (#40368397)

    Does it run linux?

  • by mrsam ( 12205 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:41AM (#40368419) Homepage

    Microsoft needs to hire more people in marketing. Whoever thought up of this name "Surface", needs to be fired.

    Hey, didya hear about this hot new tablet? It's called "Surface"!!!

    It's obvious that they're trying to pick a generic name, in the spirit of "Word" and "Access". But, for some reason, this one doesn't fly. When I read this yesterday, I had to double-check and make sure I didn't accidentally stumble on The Onion.

    Really, if they wanted to pick a generic name that's likely to form a subliminal association with this gizmo, they should've just called it "Jumped the shark", and that would've been the end of it.

    • by cbope ( 130292 )

      Actually, MS has been using the word Surface for some time now. Their large touch-screen computing "tables" go under the Surface name. Why not continue to use the name for a small touch-screen tablet? After all, the word Surface somewhat implies a touch interface.

  • by nojayuk ( 567177 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:46AM (#40368481)
    I saw somewhere that the Surface stylus has a 600dpi resolution. The x86 Win8 Surface should run full-featured Photoshop/CS and assuming the stylus is pressure-sensitive (and there's no reason it wouldn't be in terms of cost, technology etc.) then this will make a portable version of the Cintiq, tempting for graphics people, photoeditors etc.
  • Interesting but... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Registered Coward v2 ( 447531 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:47AM (#40368491)
    it looks more like a Macbook Air than an iPad, despite it's being a tablet. MS even says:

    Microsoft is claiming it 'rivals the best ultrabooks' and uses less power than the Core i5.

    which reveals the problem it faces:

    Despite being a tablet, the keyboard makes it a "computer" in the minds of a consumer; and yes I know the iPad is a computer but what's important is the psychological difference in the consumer's mindset and approach. A tablet is a portable device that does a lot of neat and useful things but isn't as full featured as a computer; so you are willing to accept tradeoffs such as no really powerful office suite that is fully compatible with the desktop version.,/P> That's one of the brilliant things about the iPad - it's design broke the user's mindset and created a new paradigm - complete with a new OS and user interface. MS, maybe because of its desktop centric worldview can't seem to understand that and has come out with a device that they may call a tablet but will probably be viewed by many as a computer; and unless they meet those user's expectations of what a computer s they may just have yet another netbook on their hands. We've seen what tablets did to the netbook market, and it will be interesting to see how this device fairs.

  • by srussia ( 884021 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:49AM (#40368503)
    Now you can have all the compromises of an ultrabook and a tablet all in one tidy package.
  • Consumer Confusion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thesuperbigfrog ( 715362 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @10:54AM (#40370097)

    This is a terrible move by Microsoft. The two tablets look too similar and yet are so different--especially in terms of processor power and what software they will run. Imagine the surprise that Joe Consumer will have when his "Windows tablet" does not run Windows software.

    ComputerWorld did a great article that talks about this:

    On Monday afternoon, Microsoft executives, including CEO Steve Ballmer and Steven Sinofsky, chief of the Windows division, introduced the not-yet-available Surface tablet, which will be sold in two flavors. One, tagged the Windows RT Surface, runs Windows RT, the new edition that works only on devices powered by ARM-licensed processors. ARM CPUs drive virtually every mobile device, from smartphones to tablets, including Apple's iconic iPad.

    **** Note that the ARM processor-powered device is NOT backward compatible with ALL of the current DOS/Windows software that has been released up to now. The ARM processor-powered device will only run Windows RT and Metro applications.*****

    Windows RT, a major departure for Microsoft in more ways than one, is the company's attempt to break into the lucrative consumer-oriented media tablet market.

    But Microsoft will also sell the Windows 8 Pro Surface, a tablet that, while identical at first glance to its Windows RT sibling, runs the more traditional Windows 8 on hardware powered by Intel processors.

    Because that second Surface relies on an Intel chip -- a quad-core i5 from the just-released "Ivy Bridge" architecture, the same used in Windows laptops and as of last week, the one packed into Apple's MacBook Air and the least-expensive MacBook Pro -- will run all legacy Windows applications as well as the newer Metro apps that Microsoft and others are developing. It will also be heavier -- by half a pound -- and slightly thicker than the Windows RT tablet, although by other external appearances it will be identical.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @12:58PM (#40372057)

    Slashdot readers seem confused, because the Surface really is a "family" as they put it, of devices attacking different markets.

    The Surface x86 is meant to compete against the Air, and even offers touch to PC's that some people keep clamoring for. We'll see if they are right about people wanting that on a PC...

    The Surface ARM is an iPad competitor. This one I feel like has much less going for it. The keyboard case has a trackpad... how useful is that for a tablet really? The device will lack software, and I can't see that it could cost less than an iPad 2 is selling for currently!

    Also the stand is useful for desktop use, but nothing else. It simply would not work in a lap.

    Another thing to consider is that this is a device not meant for rotation. From the keyboard being attached to the long edge to the buttons on the device being on the long edge, it's pretty obviously focused on one orientation.

    I also wish they had not gone quite as "Appleish" in the presentation of the device, talking about emotional attachment to the hinges and so on... it seems like there's an approach that could have been taken that would not have echoed Apple, possibly some confident Mad Men era swagger?

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.