Microsoft has announced the release of Surface, its first tablet computer, to coincide with the rollout of its Windows 8 operating system. The brainchild of Microsoft designers, and product of its engineers, Surface has been created to complement Windows 8 and take advantage of the new operating system’s features. Surface will be available in two models, each running a different version of Windows.
WindowsRT is an operating system designed specifically for use with Surface and aimed at the consumer market. It will run on the ARM processor powered Surface. Unusually for a Windows machine, the WindowsRT Surface will come with Microsoft Office already installed as standard. As well as the built-in software, users will be able to download and run Windows apps.
The second version of Surface, aimed at business users, has an Intel Core processor and will run Windows 8 Pro. This model features a higher spec, including more memory and USB 3 connectivity, at the cost of increased weight and dimensions. The Windows 8 Pro version is to be released approximately three months after the WindowsRT version, which will appear alongside the Windows 8 software release.
Surface has been constructed according to a concept Microsoft calls ‘VaporMg’, a name which refers to both the materials used and the manufacturing process. The outer casing and components have been designed to minimise weight and width, while maximising strength. An attractive look and feel was also an important consideration.
Microsoft’s intention was to create a device that is easy and comfortable to use, either in an active role, for example surfing the internet or creating a document in Office, or passively, for listening to music or watching a film. The integrated Kickstand, which supports the device on a flat surface for handsfree use, is designed to be ergonomic whether the tablet is in active use or screening a movie. With not one but two HD cameras at the front and rear of Surface, it is easy to imagine a business teleconference or a video chat between friends taking place.
With the addition of the Touch Cover, a slim 3mm add-on, Surface acquires a keyboard and thus many of the advantages of a netbook. The pressure-sensitive interface will be available in a range of colours and make use of gestures to make typing quicker and easier. For those who prefer feedback from their key presses, there’s the Type Cover, with a tactile keyboard for a more traditional typing style. At 5mm, the Type Cover is thicker than the Touch Cover.
Both covers attach to Surface using a magnetic strip, and are hinged to fold across the screen, so they can do double duty as a protective outer case.
It’s clear that a great deal of thought has gone into every aspect of Surface, from the 22 degree angle at which the tablet sits when on the Kickstand to the rear camera, positioned to capture footage from the user’s point of view.
It will be interesting to see how Microsoft’s offering affects this growing sector of the home computing industry.
This is a guest post on behalf of IT Solutions provider Equanet