Microsoft’s answer to the Apple Ipad is coming soon

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“Surface” – Microsoft’s answer to the Apple Ipad is coming soon.

It is designed to run on Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system.

Microsoft is actually releasing two versions of the Surface: A thinner and lighter (9.3 mm thick, 676g) consumer version that runs the Windows RT operating system (a version of Windows 8 that runs on ARM processors), and a larger version (13.5 mm thick, 903g) running the Windows 8 Pro OS, which is aimed at business users.

The Pro version, which uses an Intel Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor, and runs all the standard Windows desktop software like Word and Excel, as well as Apps. It can even programs like Photoshop, and supports USB 3.0.

The RT version doesn’t support standard Microsoft Office desktop apps; instead, it runs a limited functionality version of Office called “Office Home & Student” as well as Windows Explorer. The RT version supports USB 2.0.

Microsoft has designed the Surface to feel like a book. And the cover of this book is one of the Surface’s most distinguishing features. It is similar to the Smart Cover that protects the iPad, but Microsoft goes Apple one better by installing a physical, multitouch keyboard on the back of its cover. The cover is connected to the tablet itself, and folds over to protect the Surface’s screen.

The Surface’s optically bonded 10.6-inch display is also notable. Microsoft describes it as “permanent scratch and wear resistant,” and says that it minimises glare, which makes it perfect for reading. The Surfaces includes HD 1080p screen resolution, and a DisplayPort to output full high-res video to a TV.

Microsoft says the Surface is the “first PC with a vapor-deposited (PVD) magnesium shell.” The Surface stands upright on a kickstand that’s connected on hinges to the back of the tablet.

Surface for Windows RT tablet
• Processor: NVIDIA Tegra-based ARM chip
• Weight: 676 grams
• Thickness: 9.3 millimeters
• Display: 10.6-inch ClearType HD capacitive touchpanel
• Battery: 31.5Wh
• I/O: microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD Video, 2×2 MIMO antennae
• Software: Windows RT + Office Home & Student 2013 RT
• Accessories: Touch Cover, Type Cover, VaporMg Case & Stand
• Capacity: 32GB / 64GB

Surface for Windows 8 Pro tablet
• Processor: Intel Core i5 (Ivy Bridge)
• Weight: 903 grams
• Thickness: 13.5 millimeters
• Display: 10.6-inch ClearType Full HD (1080p) capacitive touchpanel
• Battery: 42Wh
• I/O: microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, 2×2 MIMO antennae
• Software: Windows 8 Pro
• Accessories: Touch Cover, Type Cover, VaporMg Case & Stand, Pen with Palm Block
• Capacity: 64GB / 128GB

Microsoft announced no pricing for the new tablets although they state it will be “competitive” to their peers, and no availability date. Experts believe it will be around Autumn of this year (same time as the Windows 8 launch). The Pro version will probably released 3 months after the RT version.

surface-small surface-colour surface-side

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