Microsoft Surprises Everyone with Surface Tablet, Even Their PC Manufacturing Partners

Submitted by lalit on June 18, 2012 - 11:15pm.

Today at an event in Hollywood, Microsoft unveiled two Surface tablets and accessories for the tablets. Microsoft says the tablets are designed to seamlessly transition between consumption and creation devices. They were conceived, designed and engineered entirely by Microsoft employees. The main highlights of the new products are:

Software takes center stage: Surface sports a full-sized USB port and a 16:9 aspect ratio – the industry standard for HD. It has edges angled at 22 degrees, a natural position for the PC at rest or in active use, letting the hardware fade into the background and the software stand out.

VaporMg: The casing of Surface is created using a unique approach called VaporMg (pronounced Vapor-Mag), a combination of material selection and process to mold metal and deposit particles that creates a finish akin to a luxury watch. Starting with magnesium, parts can be molded as thin as .65 mm, thinner than the typical credit card, to create a product that is thin, light and rigid/strong.

Integrated Kickstand: The unique VaporMg approach also enables a built-in kickstand that lets you transition Surface from active use to passive consumption – watching a movie or even using the HD front- or rear-facing video cameras. The kickstand is there when needed, and disappears when not in use, with no extra weight or thickness.

Touch Cover: The 3 mm Touch Cover represents a step forward in human-computer interface. Using a unique pressure-sensitive technology, Touch Cover senses keystrokes as gestures, enabling you to touch type significantly faster than with an on-screen keyboard. It will be available in a selection of vibrant colors. Touch Cover clicks into Surface via a built-in magnetic connector, forming a natural spine like you find on a book, and works as a protective cover. You can also click in a 5 mm-thin Type Cover that adds moving keys for a more traditional typing feel.

Two models of Surface will be available: one running an ARM processor featuring Windows RT, and one with a third-generation Intel Core processor featuring Windows 8 Pro. Surface for Windows RT will feature ARM processor, 10.6-inch ClearType HD display, 32GB or 64GB storage, microSD card slot, USB 2.0, and 31.5W-h battery. It will be 9.3mm (0.36-inch) thick and weigh 676 grams (about 1.5 pounds).

Surface for Windows 8 Pro will come with Intel’s third generation Core processor, 64GB or 128GB storage, 10.6-inch ClearType Full HD screen, microSDXC slot, USB 3.0, mini DisplayPort and 42W-h battery. It will be 13.5mm (0.53-inch) thick and weigh 903 grams (about 2 pounds).

Surface for Windows RT will release with the general availability of Windows 8, and the Windows 8 Pro model will be available about 90 days later. Both will be sold in the Microsoft Store locations in the U.S. and available through select online Microsoft Stores.

By calling the Surface tablet “the ultimate stage for Windows”, what Microsoft is telling everyone is that tablet from their PC manufacturing partners will be second rate when compared to Microsoft’s offerings. This announcement might be good for Microsoft (if the Surface tablets succeed), but its bad news for their manufacturing partners.