Microsoft Surface: More Substance to the Tablet World?

June 19, 2012 | John P.

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Microsoft Corporation, long known for its strong presence in the software market, entered new territory on June 18, 2012 with its introduction of the Microsoft Surface tablet, to be available soon for public purchase. Microsoft’s new tablet runs on the RT version of the Windows 8 operating system intended for tablets (using ARM architecture). Physical exposure to the Surface tablet was limited during the media launch but one learned that the tablets have 26.9 cm display screens, built-in kickstands, and magnesium cases with a thickness of 9.3 mm (slightly thinner than Apple’s iPad). Nvidia is building the chipset technology for this version of Microsoft Surface while the Windows 8 Pro version uses Intel’s Ivy Bridge x86 chip technology and is 13.5 mm in thickness.



The jury may take its time to pronounce a verdict on whether Apple’s iPad is better than Microsoft’s Surface and vice versa. However, there have been several preliminary analyses, evaluations and weigh-ins of the two tablets on the basis of several factors, including operating system, weight, thinness, display size and resolution, battery, chip, ports, cameras, storage capacity, keyboard, and variations within the model types and specifications. Moreover, some sources were frustrated at the lack of information from Microsoft, thereby limiting the ability of critical analysis of the Surface tablet. The pricing of Surface tablets will be a determining factor as to how they are received by the public. Others questioned why Microsoft would take on its own partners who would purchase (and have purchased) Windows operating systems for their own technology. Nevertheless, some expressed the opinion that Microsoft needs to emphasize its success with the Xbox gaming platform rather than its Office suite of software to improve the chances of Microsoft Surface tablet computer competing with Apple’s iPad.

Microsoft’s earlier forays into the proto-tablet and tablet markets included: Windows for Pen Computing (a stylus add-on to Windows 3.1 operating system); Windows for XP Tablet PC Edition (Consequently, Samsung, Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba and Acer produced tablet PCs in response that were expensive by 2012 standards); Project Origami in 2006 (with partners) with the intention of creating finger-sensitive screens (Samsung launched its Q1 which was similar in weight to an iPad but only had 2 hours of battery life for surfing the internet); Microsoft Courier in 2008 (a hinged booklet computer developed for finger and pen input) that was cancelled in 2010; and the Pocket PC operating system (which Microsoft successfully developed for personal digital assistants (PDAs)) that was distinct from the Windows operating system.

Stay tuned as one learns more substance about Microsoft Surface…