Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Microsoft Surface


Yesterday, Microsoft announced its entrance into the tablet market. A bit too late I think! The secrecy that shrouded the event added to the hype for what mysterious product they were planning to launch. Even the location of the event was kept secret until the day of the event.

Tom Warren of The Verge covered the announcement in great detail. The launch was held at Milk Studios in Los Angeles. The CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, introduces a video of the company's history in the hardware arena. The Microsoft Surface is supposed to be a companion of the new Windows 8.

There are two versions of the Surface launched. One powered by Intel's 22nm Ivy Bridge chips running Windows 8 and the other powered by ARM's chipset running Windows RT. A detailed side by side comparison of both versions are shown here.

I think its a very good idea to make a tablet with a physical keyboard. I've discussed in my earlier post, that a physical keyboard is necessary if you want to write a long email or document. The virtual keyboard can only go so far. Adrian Covert of Gizmodo did a very good review of the technology being used in Surface's keyboard. From the looks of it, it seems like a rubber keyboard with no tactile response. If that's how it is, it would be very similar to typing on a touch screen. According to Adrian, the pressure sensitivity of it works very well. It can sense if you are typing or just resting your hands on it.

The way it magnetically attaches to the Surface, is very similar to the iPad's Smart Cover. Add to that the VaporMG kickstand, it converts a tablet into a very thin (and hopefully sturdy!) laptop. The technology that was demonstrated at the launch shows it to be an iPad-killer. But they have not specified any pricing details. It wouldn't be surprising that the reason for that would be because it's so expensive. If Microsoft prices the Surface really high as compared to the iPad, it would be hard for it to gain any significant market share.

Taking into account users' familiarity with Windows OS, people in the market for a new laptop or tablet would be eagerly waiting for the Surface to launch. Hopefully, it will be within their budget!