Can the Microsoft Surface Compete with the iPad?

Microsoft, in a fashionably late event, announced the new Surface, their newest hardware platform. As important as the “Mouse” was in the 80’s, today’s Tablet is the next revolution in computing. Microsoft’s strategy is to make your tablet as powerful as your computer. Can they deliver on this promise?

The Microsoft Surface is a 10.6″ tablet that runs Windows 8 software in 16:9 mode. There will be two types of processor inside – the NVidia ARM processor (for tablet-style use) and the Intel Ivy Bridge i5 processor (for desktop style use – making this the “Pro” model). The idea is simple: your computer and tablet is now interchangeable. Instead of having a desktop or laptop, you will have a tablet that is your laptop.

Features of the Microsoft Surface Tablet

First, the surface has a built-in kick stand. And not a little plastic tab that breaks off in the first week. This kick-stand covers one half of the back on this tablet. In closed position, the stand does not get in your way.

The next innovation of the Surface is the cover – which doubles as a keyboard. You can get the keyboard in many different colors, but what impressed me more is the thicker cover, which actually has slightly raised keys. For those who like the textile feel, this cover will appeal to you. Best part – all covers have QWERTY keyboards and a small trackpad area.

The Surface also has a pen feature, for those of you who like the Stylus over touching the surface. I find styluses to be useful, especially for artists, or if you are signing something. The stylus sets on the side of the tablet.

Running Windows RT on the ARM based system, and Windows 8 on the i5 system, you could install and run the same software you would on a laptop or desktop. That keeps the learning curve down as you don’t have to figure out a mobile version of a program. USB 2.0 on the ARM, 3.0 on the Intel. Therefore, you have opportunities to plug in cameras, microphones and hard drives to off-load the storage.

Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, presents his pre...What was Missing from the Surface Tablet

I was surprised to not hear about a model with 3G or 4G inside. It seems to be a big miss on Microsoft’s part. The best part of an iPad is you can get a data package with it. With the surface, you are still limited to the WiFi (802.11 b/g/n) or a wireless tether from phone or hotspot.

There are still a lot of mysteries to this device. What kind of display will this have? Will this be a single manufacturer, or will companies like Dell and HP be able to create versions? What about anti-virus?

One big mystery is if the OS will be swap-able – Can I put a flavor of Linux, like Ubuntu on this device, or will I have to live with Windows 8?

Pricing and Availability of the Surface Tablet

No prices were given today, which was a real bummer. Steve Ballmer did say they would be at market price for their respected versions. The ARM tablet will be out at release of the Windows 8 in October (perfect for Christmas). However, the Surface Pro won’t be out until possibly January.

The Verdict…

I was intrigued. I thought Microsoft brought some new innovations to the table. The keyboard case cover is definitely one of them. As for the tablets themselves – we’ll have to wait and see what happens. I hope they can also make an i7 version – Although the i5 tablet will do a lot for me, an i7 tablet will let me edit and process video in record time. That would be the schiznit.


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