Microsoft Surface Tablet running Windows 8 announced

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 19, 2012
Updated • Nov 30, 2012
Microsoft, Windows 8

Microsoft's mystery event took place yesterday at a time that may have been ideal for journalists and interested users from the U.S., but less than ideal for people from other parts of the world. In it, Microsoft announced the Surface tablet running on Windows 8. According to the demonstration, Surface will ship in two different models. First a regular Intel-powered tablet running Windows 8 Pro, and then an ARM-based tablet running Windows RT.

Lets take a look at the spec sheet for both Surface tablets first before we analyze the device further. Please note that Microsoft did not reveal all of the specs just yet.

microsoft surface tablet

Surface Specs

The Windows RT powered surface comes with a 10.6" ClearType HD Display, either 32 Gigabytes or 64 Gigabytes of storage, and a 31-5 W-h battery. It is 676 g light and 9.3 mm thin, and offers microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD Video ports and a 2x2 MIMI antennae.

The Windows 8 Pro version of the Surface tablet has a full HD display of the same size, weights 903 g and has a width of 13.5 mm. It features a larger battery that is packing 42 W-h, ships with an USB 3.0 and microSDXC port instead, and offers 64 Gigabytes or 128 Gigabytes of storage. It also ships with a pen with palm block that the RT Surface version does not ship with.

Surface, a closer look

As you can see from the specs listing above, Microsoft did not reveal all the hardware specs of its Surface tablets yesterday. The spec sheet is missing information about the processor, the RAM, the actual display resolution, the video card, the type of hard drive (likely SSD, but how fast), how long the devices will run on battery on average, and the price.

As far as price goes, Microsoft mentioned that it will be competitively priced with "comparable ARM tablets or Intel Ultrabook-class PCs". This puts the Windows 8 Pro version of the tablet at least in the $800 range with the possibility that it could even be priced higher considering that some Ultrabooks retail for twice the amount or even more. It is however likely that both tablets will be offered at a price well below the $1000 mark, likely closer to Apple's top of the line iPad that is currently retailing for about than $720 in its 64 Gigabyte edition. The RT version will likely be more in the $600 range though.

What makes the Surface tablet interesting is not that it is a first party tablet running Windows 8, nor the hardware that Microsoft built-into it. The most interesting aspect here is the integration of the qwerty keyboard in the cover of the tablet and the stand that is also integrated in it.

The keyboard should appeal to many professionals and users who often have to use the keyboard when they work with the tablet. And since it is included in the cover, it is far more practical of a solution than a third party keyboard accessory that you have to carry around with you as well. It obviously depends a lot on how well the keyboard is designed. It is likely that it will work quite well, considering Microsoft's experience in the keyboard vertical.


And then there is the pen with digital ink, which we do not know that much about right now. It is magnetic and attaches to the Surface tablet, and  could be a great asset for writers and users who work with images and other types of media. Again, it really depends on how fluent and exact it is which no one can say for sure right now.

Surface video

Presentation video

The market

So, who is Microsoft targeting with the Surface tablet? That's a hard question to answer, considering that it can be used for many different purposes. From a device for pure entertainment like Apple's iPad, to professional applications. Journalists for instance could be very interested in this as it could replace the netbook / notebook that they'd carry around with them otherwise. This of course under the premise that the keyboard is as good as Microsoft has made it sound like.

Businesses could also be interested in this, as most will have no troubles integrating Windows devices into the company network or infrastructure.

Closing Words

Microsoft's Surface tablet is more than another tablet, or a tablet that the company tries to position against Apple's iPad. It is also a demonstration of what tablets with Windows 8 can look like. There will be others obviously from companies like Acer, Dell or Samsung, and it will be interesting to see how these tablets compare with the Surface tablet.

It may take a couple of months before we can finally draw a conclusion when Microsoft reveals pricing and detailed spec information.

Have you followed the announcement? Do you think that Microsoft has produced a winner here?


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  1. Roman ShaRP said on June 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    O, just look at that! It hangs when launches IE on presentation.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on June 20, 2012 at 2:34 pm

      Well it is running a pre-release version of an operating system, and the hardware itself may have been a prototype. I do agree though that this is a blunder that should not really happen.

  2. Roman ShaRP said on June 20, 2012 at 9:43 am

    > Remember this puppy will also run many of your favourite win apps.

    ARM-based Windows RT won’t run old Win apps, and as for me – there are no favorites among the new Metro apps.

    > From what has been unveiled so far, the Pro version will feature a full intel i5 quad processor with usb 3 and who knows what other goodies. Current tablets don’t even compare.

    You know, there is a tradeoff between CPU power and battery life. From what I know, Intel-based Windows 8 tablets can be power hogs, eating all battery power in 2-2.5 hours. If so, the Win 8 tablet users will be bound to their chargers and… Who needs a 2-hours tablet? People may just choose netbook, paying less and getting more old favorite apps without licensing Win 8

    I bough Asus EEE 1015 PED in 2010, paying for it $400 and additional $50 for OEM Win 7. It can run on battery 6 hours and some minutes, and I’m happy with that.

  3. Rick said on June 19, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    “Tablet?” – nope: – It’s more like an ultralight notebook with a touchscreen (well at least the pro version). Remember this puppy will also run many of your favourite win apps.

    From what has been unveiled so far, the Pro version will feature a full intel i5 quad processor with usb 3 and who knows what other goodies. Current tablets don’t even compare.

    The interesting question is where the standard model will fall via price point. Since Msft doesn’t have to pay themselves the OEM price for Win RT, they will have a price advantage from the start (until some OEM complains about anti-competitive practices anyhow).

    I have to say that having a tablet or tablet-like machine where I don’t have to deal with Apple’s propiatary crappola, or the inconvenience of Win to Android is very compelling; pricing will be the key for me.

  4. Midnight said on June 19, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Just another touch screen Tablet PC, unlike Microsoft’s Surface table top that they initially released back in 2007 and have since updated.
    Looks like they will do anything to push Windows 8, with that god-awful Metro GUI!

    Not too sure what their plan of attack is, but Apple has obviously got the market cornered with their IPads and Samsung has sold more than their share of Galaxy Tabs, so that doesn’t leave much for Microsoft to grab, if any at all!

    1. ScientificBob said on June 20, 2012 at 9:14 am

      Apple has the tablet market cornered? Are you kidding?

      Every pc user is a potential target to sell a tablet to.

      More then 1.5 billion pc’s running windows connect to the internet every day. In the same period that apple shipped 50 million ipads, windows 7 saw 550 million online activiations.

      If you want to call that “cornered”, by my guest.
      But the fact of the matter is that the vast, vast, vast majority of the target group here does NOT have a tablet yet. Apple might be current market leader counting ONLY those that DID buy a tablet in the last 4 years, but that doesn’t really mean anything.

      If you have 1000 potential buyers and only 10 make the purchase and of those 10, 8 choose your product… then you are “market leader” with a ” whopping” 80% market share. But does that number really mean anything? Off course, it does not.

      The fact of the matter is that this attitude everybody has about “apple has won the war allready” is simply ridiculous. They didn’t win anything. The first real battle hasn’t even started yet.

      People underestimated microsoft back in the day as well, you know… when everybody thought that Apple Computers was gonna lead the world into the next millenium. Boy, were they wrong.

      I predict that they are wrong now as well.
      Let’s talk again when tablets start to be so common place that 500 million units ship every year. Let’s see if 80% of these are ipads or windows machines.

      Care to venture a guess? You know I’m right.

  5. Roman ShaRP said on June 19, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    On charging. The guy I know as MS MVP and early adopter answered on my question about pricing with this link:
    Microsoft charges Tablet OEMs a whopping $85 for Windows RT

  6. ilev said on June 19, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    “There will be others obviously from companies like Acer, Dell or Samsung, …”

    There won’t be any others like there are no others left with WP7, apart from Nokia (Dell and LG
    bailed out. HTC and Samsung don’t care any more and push Android).
    Microsoft charge $85-95 for Windows 8 license on tablets and OEMs won’t be able to compete
    in price against Microsoft.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on June 19, 2012 at 1:16 pm

      I never saw an official source for what Microsoft is charging.

      1. ilev said on June 19, 2012 at 8:09 pm

        LG announced, just after Microsoft’s announcement of the Surface, that they are bailing out of Windows Tablets.

  7. Jeremy Collake said on June 19, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Tell me ‘USB 2.0’ was a mistake? Is that confirmed? I would probably have to wait for second generation due to the price anyway, but who would build a device with USB 2.0 these days? I mean, we are talking 11Mbps (shared) vs 480Mbps (shared) … Come the heck on!

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on June 19, 2012 at 12:01 pm

      Jeremy the stats have been confirmed by Microsoft. The thinking is probably that the majority of RT users probably do not connect that many devices to the machine. Still, it is definitely an oversight on Microsoft’s part. Do not forget that the Pro version offers USB 3.0 after all.

      1. Jeremy Collake said on June 19, 2012 at 12:08 pm

        Ah, thanks for the clarification. Well, if I can’t afford the basic version, at least it is in the Pro version ;). I *hope* by making such sacrifices they are really trying to price this competitively. We’ll see. Of course, as a Windows developer I’ll have to own the cheapest touch screen Windows 8 tablet/netbook device I can, for real world testing. There is only so much you can do in a virtual machine. Oh, that and buy back into my MSDN subscription at $1300 a year so I get the privilege to develop for their OSes, but it does include Visual Studio + all OSes for testing. Still, Google Market cost $10 to join, and developer tools are free. No digital signing needed on top of that, something else I’ll have to invest in. Meanwhile, end users rarely pay for software, preferring risky cracks over paying the smallest amount.

  8. Bogdan said on June 19, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Yes, that’s a tablet.
    This is exactly what I was thinking that Apple would release a few years ago when iPad arrived on the market.
    For professionals this is a must have because it is a tool.
    For a geek or an IT passionate , the price will be the decision factor I guess.
    For the consumers, for those who love Angry Birds and reading newspapers in stylish coffee shops just to show off, this is too much.

    iLovers will remain attached to their glossy iUniverse.


    1. Midnight said on June 19, 2012 at 4:48 pm

      Question is…Does the keyboard actually work?
      No one has yet confirmed!

  9. Roman ShaRP said on June 19, 2012 at 10:23 am

    I’m too biased, perhaps.

    – I hate Metro and Win 8
    – I don’t want Win RT at all for inability to launch old Windows software
    – I don’t want to pay more than $500 for a tablet (actually, I would prefer to pay far less – $200)

    So, my choice looks like Win Netbook like Asus EEE 1015 PED I already bought in 2010 for ~$450 or some Android tablet for even less money.

    1. ScientificBob said on June 20, 2012 at 9:04 am

      People need to stop looking at this thing as if it is “just” a tablet like the ipad and android devices. It’s not . It’s a full blown pc. A hybrid device that CAN be “just” a tablet, but which can ALSO be a laptop. Or even a desktop if you attach external monitors.

      The fact of the matter is that if you pay 800 bucks for this thing, then you made a HUGE deal for your computing needs. Because you will not have to put another 1400 dollar laptop next to it to do real work. You can do it all on that single device.

      This thing competes a lot more with fully featured laptops (even desktop) then it does with overglorified e-readers like the ipad.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on June 19, 2012 at 10:50 am

      I personally like what I have seen, but won’t really make a buying decision until I know the price and all specs. I personally think the success of the tablet stands and falls with the price. If it is competitively priced, it could be a viable alternative to Apple’s iPad or Android tablets, which, to be honest, did not really take off until now.

      I think it is too early to tell at this point in time.

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