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back to article Microsoft takes on tablets with keyboard-equipped Surface

In one of its most-hyped-up announcements of recent years, Microsoft has entered the tablet market with the Surface, a 10.6 inch table running Windows 8 on Intel and ARM platforms. At the launch event in Los Angeles, CEO Steve Ballmer said that Microsoft could offer something "unique" in that it can do both the hardware and the …

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Re: Stylus.

what's wrong with having extra means for precise input?

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Is that a rebranded Asus Transformer?

Because that's what it looks like.

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I think MS have got it totally wrong. They don't seem to understand that the iPad and other tablets are primarily media devices designed to consume, not create. They seem to think that the whole world revolves around MS Office. Another Zune IMO.

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I think MS does get it

The iPad is by design a consumption device. The surface is by design for consumption and production. They're not getting it wrong, they're giving people who don't ant an iPad something more suitable to their needs. And yes Office is a plus. It's the de facto standard for business as much as the English language is to business, so hat alone is big selling point.

The price of the product should reflect what it can do. This looks like a device that genuinely can be productive, without the hassle of having to convert documents back and forth.

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Re: I think MS does get it

> And yes Office is a plus

Surface Pro does not come with Office. You will have to buy it at usual prices.

Surface RT (ARM) does come with "Office RT Preview". This is not the full Office that you would find on an x86 machine. The 'Preview' is also unclarified, it may be a version that expires and requires buying of the usable version later, just as 'free trial' versions do.

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Ready the bargain bins...

...as Microsoft brings its Playbook to the Surface.

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Meh

Interestin advance peek at some unfinished ideas

Watch the presentation here at about 14:20 in (http://www.theverge.com/2012/6/19/3096420/microsoft-surface-event-video-live).

Anyway, it's a promising looking device even though it is clearly a long way off. It really needs to ship with Office and if it is priced at say 20% less than the base iPad, it will appeal to many people and will be a success for Microsoft but a disaster for the Windows Tablet market.

There is however, a great deal of detail and working demonstrations missing from this early announcement.

Also why so much focus on the keyboard? That's an admission that the tablet format if flawed.

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Windows

Re: Interestin advance peek at some unfinished ideas

Interesting presentation indeed. Especially the part where that guy had to quickly swap machines because his first Surface apparently got stuck.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Interestin advance peek at some unfinished ideas

That's a hallmark of any Microsoft presentation:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=55xqB_pLjlk

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Oh dear, what on earth are they doing now?

Why two different CPU architectures? Why so many different input devices? Why two different operating systems?

Why are they competing with their own customers?

Utter desperation.

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Cintiq?

The x86 version of this tablet will run full-featured Photoshop and Adobe Creative Suite and assuming the stylus is pressure-sensitive (not mentioned in any reports I've seen but it's likely) and with the reported 600dpi resolution then this makes it an ideal portable Cintiq-type device for graphical artists, photoeditors etc.

I wonder what it would be like running OS/X?

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What is it with MS and weird colour schemes

Ever since XP we've had weird bright greens n blues making it look like a Fisher Price toy, this was extended to the hideous indecipherable interface on the Xbox 360 and now we have the harlequin colours of Windows 8 and now a matching wPad.

I think I preferred it when computers were only available in beige

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Linux

Hardware looks good... software?

I'm usually anti-M$, but this do look good.

Except for the software, that is.

Any idea if it can be rooted with [insert Linux distro here]?

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Re: Hardware looks good... software?

"I'm usually anti-M$, but this do look good. Except for the software, that is. Any idea if it can be rooted with [insert Linux distro here]?"

The Intel one should be possible. The ARM one I wouldn't fancy your chances. Would probably take some significant hackery for that because of the way it boots.(not because you can't put Linux on ARM).

Also, it's spelled MS, thanks and your welcome. ;)

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Re: Hardware looks good... software?

It can be done. Now, the next question: how long will it take for someone to figure out how and publish the method online? And the question after that, will the information be dispersed widely enough before Microsoft tries to clamp down on it to remain available?

Any system can be rooted. Anyone who says otherwise hasn't been paying attention for the last decade. Some take longer than others to figure out, but there's always a way to do it. With the notable exception of the PS3, high profile systems like this are usually rooted within a couple months.

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Re: Hardware looks good... software?

The opinions of someone who's still doing that M$ thing can never be taken seriously.

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Facepalm

Re: Hardware looks good... software?

"Also, it's spelled MS, thanks and your welcome"

You mean "you're".

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Re: Hardware looks good... software?

Thanks.

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Meh

Just wondering.

Does anyone remember that M$ products often suck loudly upon launch? This probably isn't going to be an iPad killer, even if it is an "all in one". Add to that it's running Windows 8. I'm certain that it'll come out of the box and be up and running in no time.The keyboard/cover thing looks intriguing (if it actually works), but I think the only way this will sell is if they can keep the price point down. And if I had wings I could fly.

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@Tank

"Does anyone remember that M$ products often suck loudly upon launch?"

I do and generally speaking you're right. However, in all fairness its also a fact that MS more than once managed to regroup and do a major rehaul, thus eliminating most or all the problems which surfaced after launch.

Still, IMO you make a good point. Early adapters should definitely keep this in mind.

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FAIL

Surface: Table, Intel or Arm

How dumb are MS?! They already have a product with the name Surface. So now have three very different products all called Surface.

The table top surface.

The crippleware ARM tablet

The power hungry Intel tablet

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Re: Surface: Table, Intel or Arm

"Surface" the table top has been rebranded as "PixelSense" and apparently bears little to no resemblance to what is now called Surface. Microsoft owned the name and decided to reuse it.

Too bad, the old Surface was a good technology that didn't get enough play. When I first heard the announcement, I was momentarily excited, until I read the article and realized it was just Windows 8 on a netbook.

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Battery Life

Not sure if anyones mentioned this, but the goodereader blog says:

RT - 31.5 hrs

Pto - 42 hrs.

A mis-print? Mis-estimation by an order of magnitude?

If not then I'm getting one when it (never) comes out, just like that revolutionary touchscreen table thingo they teased us with a few years ago.

http://goodereader.com/blog/tablet-slates/new-surface-tablet-from-microsoft-revealed/

If it is that long it'll kill the ipad.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Battery Life

Yeah that's definitely a mis-print.

Where it says 'Pto - 42 hrs' it should read 'Pto - 42 minutes'

Looking forward to the first lawsuit for one of these when Little Tommy on his X86 Surface is watching Pixar films all day on netflix and due to Adobe Flash that i5 gives him third degree burns

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Battery Life

Those are 31.5 and 42 Watt-hour batteries, not hours of usage.

Divide that by the number of Watts that thing actually consumes, which for sure is a lot more than 1.

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remember Microsoft mouses ...

.... if Microsoft engineered the new table with the same care as they did their old mouses, it could potentially be very nice piece of kit.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: remember Microsoft mouses ...

But you'll be removing a lot of hair, dust and general debris from them.

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I am a MS Windows fan - the worst piece of software that I have to use regularly is iTunes and whilst my iPhone 4 is great it is no use for doing anything business related.

I'd see this in the same way. At the moment airport lounges are full of people travelling on business with a laptop and an iPad. They'll get out the laptop to do their work on and then use the iPad to watch a movie once they have finished working.

A decent MS tablet would cover both of these things - I can watch movies and play great games on my Windows device, I couldn't update a spreadsheet, document, plan, code etc. on an iPad.

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"both of these things"

In theory, but if past experience is any indication, it'll do both of them really badly -- a poor substitute for both devices it's trying to replace.

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Coat

why no USB3 ?

i'd get one if it had usb3,.. buying new outdated tech is overrated

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Anonymous Coward

Re: why no USB3 ?

You probably want Thunderbolt then.

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Re: why no USB3 ?

USB 3.0 on Pro model. I suspect by time it hits mass production it'll be USB 3.0 Charger+ too. And if not, the version 2 will have USB Charger+

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Anonymous Coward

No Thanks.

Wow, looks like they just stole the design for a the Asus Transformer and lumbered it with a really shit Metro user interface.

I personally wouldn't touch Microsoft hardware, I recall how rubbish the Xbox Zune and Kinect were.

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FAIL

There's something interesting here...

Assuming windows 8 on a tablet will be able to run *any* application written for windows - including desktop apps - and that metro can handle apps not designed for touch to a large extent, with a pen device and keyboard for those it can't, it really does make sense.

There are tens of thousands of windows applications - if they can run on this tablet device, microsoft could have a potential winner on it's hands.

Ok, so it's got a soft keyboard - therefore it's effectively a laptop with a detachable touchscreen. No big whoop there then.

But again, if it can run *any* desktop windows application, that's a whole different ballgame.

However, the kicker is, I can't help feeling, if all this is the case, a laptop still makes a lot more sense for business usage, which is clearly the target market for this device.

If I think of the meetings I have, as the geek guy in a boardroom, a tablet just wouldn't cut it, even one with a keyboard. I need to plug my laptop into a large screen so everyone can see what I'm doing.

This type of meeting happens day in day out across the globe - a large viewing screen attached to a computer is an absolute necessity in many cases.

Right, step away from the meeting, we've now got business computer usage whilst out and about - on the train, the airplane, the coffee shop, at the hotel.

Again, a laptop is more flexible.

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Re: There's something interesting here...

Most meeting rooms have either a projector or screen these days - provided there is an HDMI out then the tablet would work just as well as a laptop.

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Re: There's something interesting here...

> therefore it's effectively a laptop with a detachable touchscreen

You won't be using one on your lap with the keyboard. A laptop holds its screen rigidly and the weight is in the base. A 'Surface' has a loose joint to the keyboard and the weight is in the screen unit which then requires a prop. It could only be used on a table or similar.

It is also a 10" laptop, well netbook actually, that will cost (the x86 one) like a 15" or 17" Ultrabook. You could buy a laptop _and_ an iPad for the price of one of these.

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Flame

"Microsoft has worked hard to up the hype this launch"

Pity they didn't work very hard on the actual product.

Stylus input? How quaint. I remember something similar for my Sinclair Spectrum - three decades ago - I think it was called a Light Pen.

And what is that silly blue thing in front - is it a keyboard or a mouse mat? Isn't the whole point of a tablet to dispense with additional input devices, and just use a touchscreen?

Then there's that God-awful Tiles® GUI, which looks like a game of Magic Squares. And two different versions, one that runs real Windows applications (x86) and one that doesn't?

What a mess.

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Re: "Microsoft has worked hard to up the hype this launch"

"Stylus input? How quaint. I remember something similar for my Sinclair Spectrum - three decades ago - I think it was called a Light Pen."

A lot of us would love to be able to hand-write notes using the handwriting recognition. I'm a moderately fast typist but if you're holding the device in one hand clipboard style, then one handed typing is pretty awkward. Also, a stylus is great for quick illustrations and annotating PDFs, etc. Plus the Spectrum probably didn't have a Full HD screen or the ability to carry around the screen (a cathode ray tube television) under your arm.

"And what is that silly blue thing in front - is it a keyboard or a mouse mat? Isn't the whole point of a tablet to dispense with additional input devices, and just use a touchscreen?"

The "whole point" is to do whatever the purchaser decides is the point. It's 3mm thick (5mm for the clicky version) and built into a cover and detachable too. So why not add the ability to type on a keyboard. A keyboard is really useful for loads of things. And it leaves the screen free to see what you're actually typing, too.

"Then there's that God-awful Tiles® GUI, which looks like a game of Magic Squares."

It's a touch-friendly Start menu. Kind of handy on a tablet.

"And two different versions, one that runs real Windows applications (x86) and one that doesn't?"

Why do you hate choice? Has Apple marketing left that much of an imprint on you? ;)

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Re: "Microsoft has worked hard to up the hype this launch"

Not going to mention all that's been said so far to the benefits of the device, but..

I'm pretty sure the PRO version will also support Hyper-V 3.0 meaning any number of other OS's (not Apple) can be run like Ubuntu, Redhat etc, as well as Windows XP,7 and Server versions.

If the PRO is the full Windows 8 version that is promised, this also means you will be able to do live over the air wireless migrations of the vm's from your home lab to your Microsoft Surface.

I mean that's gotta be cool huh?

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Mushroom

Re: "Hate Choice"?

No, just those I don't like, including pretty much everything by Microsoft and Apple.

Now, have you finished apologising for Microsoft, or would you like to roll the dice again?

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Re: "Hate Choice"?

"No, just those I don't like, including pretty much everything by Microsoft and Apple. Now, have you finished apologising for Microsoft, or would you like to roll the dice again?"

Well you complained that there were two models instead of just one. I think it's legitimate to ask why additional choice is bad. It's not like I find the choice of two models confusing.

As to my "apologising for Microsoft", what exactly is it that the apology is for? I have been waiting for something like this and I'm happy to see it. You're the one that launched a big attack on it for having a keyboard and so forth. I just pointed out reasons why many of us like keyboards, styluses, etc.

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Re: "Microsoft has worked hard to up the hype this launch"

> I'm pretty sure the PRO version will also support

I'm pretty sure that Microsoft have worked hard to stop other OSes running on these devices. Their strategy is that you will require several devices and link them through their cloudy Azure.

The Pro will not be running a top line Intel chip, it will be running a Medway or similar and this may not support hypervisors, or indeed may not even have some features deliberately to stop other OSes running. For example it could have a completely undocumented GPU.

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Mushroom

But...

When Apple Hype something it's Hype'd and released (often the same day); when you Hype something and then wait several months before shipping it the Hype degrades into Anti-Hype.

Customers who get pissed-off waiting will go and buy the competitors kit just to piss on your fireworks.

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WTF?

Isn't Nokia Microsoft's best friend any longer?

Wow, hadn't we expected Microsoft to give this to Nokia as part of their partnership? Amazed that Nokia didn't negotiate this as part of the Microsoft platform switch. Microsoft is obviously happy for Nokia to go bust and then to buy the elements it wants. That burning platform looks a bit hotter today.

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Re: Isn't Nokia Microsoft's best friend any longer?

We dont nknow who makes the tablets. It could still be nokia. They were talking up a tablet not too long ago, and it seems to have disapeared. And bing here comes an MS tablet

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Whether the Surface lives up to the hype remains to be seen.

Does any hyped product ever really live up to the hype?

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FAIL

tablet?

May I point out... if it has an integrated keyboard, it is not a tablet. It is a netbook that happens to have a touchscreen.

...and this was expected, and was a good marketing move by Microsoft. Just as netbooks had to grow in resources, battery consumption and price to the point where they could run Windows, (and incidentally cease being netbooks) so must tablets grow a keyboard and (inevitably) some form of left and right mouse button, because Microsoft really doesn't know how to do it any differently. From their point of view, the way to integrate the code base between tablets and desktops is to make tablets more like desktops, not to create an OS that works well on a touch-only interface, because that would be too much work and would necessitate changing too much legacy code.

It's marketing genius, really. If this form factor takes off like they expect, it'll completely destroy the tablet market as we understand today -- all "tablets" will actually be laptops with chiclet keyboards and a touch screen that isn't really used much.

Of course, none of this will happen, because Microsoft has again failed to understand the marketplace.

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Happy

Re: tablet?

Ron, you could have saved yourself a lot of typing if you'd just taken the time to install and play with Windows 8 before coming out with that hopelessly wrong and outdated opinion.

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no shiny or apple logo??? oh no!

Just because it doesn't bear the mark of the fruity corp doesn't mean this is going to flop.

Nobody seems to take into account the level of integration a device like this could have in a corporate environment. I would say that having a portable device like this which integrates fully into AD and allows granular control over security etc. will actually be a very welcome addition to the market.

For sales people who only use email and web based CRM apps, the iPad is just about useable as a work tool (if you can be bothered with the faff of having to use a third party office suite). However, anything more than that and it becomes a tiresome job.

At my office we had a bunch of QA users who insisted that they could work more efficiently with iPads, however 3 months down the line they finally got fed up with the number of hoops they had to jump through to be able to pull files from Sharepoint and edit them. The novelty of shiny wore off and they had the devices replaced with laptops.

Don't get me wrong, i own an iPad 2 and have a company issued 'new' iPad (which i rarely use other than the odd email) and they're great for browsing the web, playing a few games etc. But I don't think they can be classed as a corporate device. They are simply media consumption devices.

The Windows Surface is much more a business tool.

The bottom line is, when a large company is considering a fleet of tablets, given the choice of shiny but cumbersome integration... against securability, functionailty, native integration to existing corporate systems, and the clincher really, the most popular office suite, which do you think is going to be more desirable?

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Coat

Curiosity and Necessity – rather than anything remotely like need or want

Ok – how much and where from.

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