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Microsoft Reveals Its iPad Rival: Surface

No details on pricing and availability, but it has a nifty looking keyboard.

There was rampant speculation about Microsoft’s secretive announcement all day today, but the most logical reveal was the actual one: a tablet. Inaccurate rumors had pegged it as possibly being Xbox related. Instead, Microsoft has re-branded the Surface name as part of a new series of tablets.

Surface will come in two flavors, Windows RT and Windows 8 Pro. The key difference? Only the latter will be able to run full-featured Windows 8. The Windows RT version is much more iPad-esque, locked into Microsoft’s new application ecosystem.

Microsoft appears to be positioning its tablet line as a more capable version of the iPad, especially since its Smart Cover equivalent has a keyboard on the other side. There’s even a version with tactile keys, if that’s your thing.

Complete specs on Surface are as follows:

The presentation was short on software demos, but 17-Bit, formerly Haunted Temple Studios, did reveal Skulls of the Shogun would be one of the premiere games compatible with Surface. It will also be on PC and Xbox Live Arcade.

The company could have knocked it out of the park with details on pricing and availability, but instead chose to punt that information down the line. Surface will be “priced to compete,” a statement that implies there are actually devices released that are, uh, not intended to be priced to compete.

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290 Comments
Posted by Atrus3

@KaosAngel said:

How the hell Microsoft have such a low resolution? This shit is only 1080p from the specs, Apple's already been doing well above that.

Sooooo if it's not from Apple, you're going to go ahead and write it off?

I swear, it's like you people WANT there to be one company that dominates the market. It's sad.

Edited by Curufinwe

@KaosAngel said:

How the hell Microsoft have such a low resolution? This shit is only 1080p from the specs, Apple's already been doing well above that.

Because running more than 1080p on a 10 inch screen is overkill and HD or full HD reslotuions allow games and programs to run better than 2048 x 1536.

Posted by KaosAngel

@Atrus3 said:

@KaosAngel said:

How the hell Microsoft have such a low resolution? This shit is only 1080p from the specs, Apple's already been doing well above that.

Sooooo if it's not from Apple, you're going to go ahead and write it off?

I swear, it's like you people WANT there to be one company that dominates the market. It's sad.

Nah dude it's basic history.

Zune and WP7 are already proof of this. 3 years too late.

Posted by RockinKemosabe

The name Surface just makes me think about all those Mr. Clean commercials and all those "hard to clean surfaces" lines.

Edited by bio595

I don't have a tablet yet, but have become increasingly more frustrated with how limited the iPhone and OSX is.

I like the metro aesthetic, dunno about how it functions with touch, but I think I'll take a good look at this when it becomes available.

Posted by ManU_Fan10ne

it has a kickstand(!), therefore it is awesome

Posted by Cyrisaurus

That keyboard looks soooo unsatisfying. if you're going to add keyboard hardware, I want actually buttons to press.

Posted by ManU_Fan10ne

@KaosAngel said:

@SamFo said:

Everyone has products that don't work. What ever happened to Apples PING? And Mac Mini's are basically dead... Think it's a bit premature to write off Microsoft this early.

Nah, it's logic. MS late 3 years again, Apple's next-gen iPad and Google's Nexus Tablet out early next year to seal the deal. It's the same shit, MS is always late with this. No one is stupid enough to buy new hardware for close to the same price as an iPad.

technically, Microsoft had tablets almost 10 years ago, so they are not exactly "late" to tablet game, but....

Posted by Pudge

Looks pretty good for a tablet, I'm curious to see what the price is. I'm happy with my hacked Ice Cream Sandwich Touchpad, but it's always good to have more options for people who enjoy computers rather than shiny toys.

Posted by kylenalepa
The company could have knocked it out of the park with details on pricing and availability, but instead chose to punt that information down the line.

Mixing your sports metaphors? Tsk tsk...

Posted by Majkiboy

@Curufinwe said:

@KaosAngel said:

How the hell Microsoft have such a low resolution? This shit is only 1080p from the specs, Apple's already been doing well above that.

Because running more than 1080p on a 10 inch screen is overkill and HD or full HD reslotuions allow games and programs to run better than 2048 x 1536.

qft

Posted by SamFo

@ManU_Fan10ne: Yeah technically tablets have been out for ages. But I feel like only now are they actually viable.

Posted by SockemJetpack

Now when will they get around to making a holodeck? I've been waiting to get one for decades so I can have sex with holo- I mean so I could train and solve Sherlock Holmes mysteries! Also Dixon Hill.

Posted by gesi1223

@DoctorWelch said:

@KaosAngel said:

That shit going to flop.

No one is going to waste more money on a MS tablet than buy an iPad. Google tried it already and they still haven't made a dent.

Good luck with that, just like how Microsoft took out Apple and Google in the handset market!

You clearly don't understand the point of this tablet combined with Windows 8. It's not just a tablet, it's a legitimate laptop unlike all other tablets, that's the big difference. This combines the ultrabook and tablet market into one.

Maybe so, but that doesn't necessarily mean it will sell well. It has to appeal to the mass market. Especially the people who already have an iPad or even the ones who don't but just want a new Tablet for the novelty. Apple has already saturated the market, I don't expect the Windows 8 tablet to compete with iPads as well as people are hoping.

Posted by AhmadMetallic

So their latest invention has finally surfaced eh?

I apologize for nothing!

Posted by MyNiceIceLife

i'll be interested to see how this turns out. if the pro version does actually have a true windows 8 that actually works like an actual desktop OS compared to a tablet OS, then that will be exciting and a good substitute for my laptop (i only use the laptop when i don't want to be at my desktop anyways so having something lighter and hopefully quicker would be more convenient).

Posted by ShenaniganZ

Nice. It has a really great look. If only it could play XBLA games.....

Posted by xantar

There are things to remember. There are 2 tablets, one that is Windows 8 RT & one that is Full Windows 8 Pro.

  • The RT tablet(arm) will in theory be between 500-700 price matched to iPad, and will come with MS Office, also USB 2
  • The other is Windows 8 Pro Tablet(core i5 Ivy Bridge), probably 800-1400 (think macbook air).

Also some other points of thought:

  • RT Tablet will run all XNA developed games, Skulls of the shogun, maybe FEZ.
  • Windows 8 Pro tablet will run ALL games. Also steam. Basically anything that will run on a MacBook Air, like Diablo 3.

This will be a Microsoft signature experience, so

  • Price - being inline with iPad is ok, but REAL MS Office is a big sell. And Windows Pro is F'ing huge in enterprise, domain support and User & Group Policies are very important to corporate IT.
  • Battery Life - We can hope for iPad equivalent in the RT but for the Pro please 7+ Hours.
  • Ongoing support - Microsoft has a long history of making great products sidewinder and digital sound system that exist for one iteration get critical acclaim and then ... disappear

All signs point to The Pro being amazing, dependent on price. But it should be a Computer that happens to be a tablet. Not a tablet that hopes to be a computer.

Posted by bko

Not for me at all, but competition is good and Apple needs more of it (so that the iPad I buy next year to replace the iPad 1 is that much better).

Edited by Bourbon_Warrior

Never wanted a iPad but want this, USB!

iPad is just so boring, its just a big iPhone, I have a iPhone. This looks like a decent laptop replacement and a tablet all in one. I can see this owning the business tablet market, as it has a keyboard, MS Office and USB ports to upload data. Also Xbox controller support would be neat!

Posted by Phatmac

Hopefully it's cheap since guys like me can't buy an ipad at such a ludicrous price. I'm not really into tablets, yet but who knows.

Posted by Set

psh, too surface for me

Posted by Deadmeat

Wow a news writeup that is barely cynical... Am I still on giantbomb?

Posted by vegoku

looks really neat, but price is the big factor. comparable to other devices just doesn't cut it Microsoft!

Posted by Blind_Evil

This is very important video game news.

Wait a minute...

Posted by bwooduhs

God dammit another thing i don't need that i'll still probably buy.

Posted by Bourbon_Warrior

@KaosAngel said:

@Atrus3 said:

@KaosAngel said:

How the hell Microsoft have such a low resolution? This shit is only 1080p from the specs, Apple's already been doing well above that.

Sooooo if it's not from Apple, you're going to go ahead and write it off?

I swear, it's like you people WANT there to be one company that dominates the market. It's sad.

Nah dude it's basic history.

Zune and WP7 are already proof of this. 3 years too late.

Basic history like the Xbox that is the no1 selling console now? And 1080p is far than enough, I still think 1080p looks great on my 40inch TV so it will look amazing on a 11 inch tablet. Plus all that added resolution eats battery life. To me any way Battery Life > Resolution.

Posted by Jazzycola

All they need is the app ecosystem to back it up and it'll take whatever share of the market Android has(not just tablets but their cell phones alike). Android is good for developers but horrible for users which are the paying customers. Fragmentation, over-complicated phone environment, and lack of unified update system will be androids downfall. I'd be surprised if android is still around in 5-10 years unless Google gets a handle of what manufacturers do. And I'm saying this as a Samsung Galaxy S II user that has yet to get ice cream sandwich when Jellybean is like 4 months from release. Also the fact that there is now 3 different app stores within the android operating system (Amazon Appstore, Google Play, and now the Playstation Suite on select phones).

On a side note, it's fun to watch a person(aka KaosAngel) get pushed into a corner and have him vehemently defend himself like it was life or death.

Posted by Bunny_Fire

@Dizzmotron: ye@Dizzmotron said:

I get the feeling that Windows 8 is going to make a great tablet OS, but a very poor desktop OS. I look forward to reviews of this and other tablets.

yeah i agree not many desktop users have touch pad screens. but maybe they want us to have the tablet to use as a keyboard for our computers?

Edited by jasondesante

looks like an ipad 1, as in it looks dated already. Why didn't they show any specific cool things you could do with it, when apple did that when unveiling the iPad? Looks alright, but come on if you put it next to the new ipad you would still be too distracted by the ipads ridiculous screen to think of anything else between the two to compare.

If this came out 2 years ago it might have been inspiring, but this is just copying apple like they did back in the old days....all over again.

Posted by EthanielRain

I hope this does well...competition is a good thing.

Posted by Vandical

It's funny because the same people that slam WP7 and the Surface but rally around Google phone's forget it took Android awhile to catch Apple and now they own a pretty significant chunk of the market. If Msoft wants to be serious about their phone and tablet divisions they need to keep at it and deliver quality products at a good price over a long period of time, ie years. They gave up on the Zune to early but hopefully they'll see it takes a few iterations and press to get out there and make a dent.

Posted by iam3green

i don't think this will be good. people who want tablets already have the ipad.

Posted by Bourbon_Warrior

@jasondesante said:

looks like an ipad 1, as in it looks dated already. Why didn't they show any specific cool things you could do with it, when apple did that when unveiling the iPad? Looks alright, but come on if you put it next to the new ipad you would still be too distracted by the ipads ridiculous screen to think of anything else to compare it to.

This is 1080p on a 11 inch screen, good enough! Plus its actually a decent laptop replacement as well. I think this could be really successful in the business tablet market. Shit I never wanted a iPad but I want this, its got USBs, a retractable keyboard and MS Office. I was thinking of getting a laptop but I am just going to hang out for these puppies.

Edited by Sooty

Doesn't seem like an iPad competitor to me. It's going after those wanting to replace their laptops with something capable of real work while having more flexibility and/or battery life.

Posted by Grimluck343

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

Never wanted a iPad but want this, USB!

iPad is just so boring, its just a big iPhone, I have a iPhone. This looks like a decent laptop replacement and a tablet all in one. I can see this owning the business tablet market, as it has a keyboard, MS Office and USB ports to upload data. Also Xbox controller support would be neat!

I'm in the same boat. I have an iPad 1 sitting around here somewhere, collecting dust.

Edited by vinsanityv22

What a dumb move. When will Microsoft figure out that following Apple is not the way to destroy them? Did they learn nothing from the Zune? The Microsoft Phones? Morons.

The thing that makes this extra disgusting is that Surface was some genuinely amazing tech in a previous life. Fucking TABLES that could display touch sensitive images - and this was years before shitty Apple-produced tablets began to emerge. Now, they're just re-purposing the name for something that's doomed to fail.

Why the fuck does Microsoft do this all the time now? They develop the technology years ahead of competitors, and then sits on their asses. It never reaches consumer level until, like, 4 years after OTHER people have ripped them off. Idiots.

Posted by FreakAche

@iam3green said:

i don't think this will be good. people who want tablets already have the ipad.

I don't buy that argument. People are already replacing their iPods and iPhones on a yearly basis. Technology moves fast, so people are never going to stick with what they already have.

Edited by Bourbon_Warrior

@iam3green said:

i don't think this will be good. people who want tablets already have the ipad.

Not true, alot of people don't have iPads like me. Plus alot of people are tossing up between a laptop and a tablet this would be perfect for them, plus Apple sells a shit tonne of keyboard attachments for iPads, this will just appeal to people who buy them. But don't be surprised if next iPad has a keyboard like this now.

EDIT: And if this has flash I will be sold!

Posted by fustacluck

@KaosAngel: @KaosAngel said:

@SamFo said:

@KaosAngel said:

That shit going to flop.

No one is going to waste more money on a MS tablet than buy an iPad. Google tried it already and they still haven't made a dent.

Good luck with that, just like how Microsoft took out Apple and Google in the handset market!

I think this comment needs to be preserved for future laughs.

How's Windows Phone 7 doing with Google and Apple?

As a WP7 owner, I'll tell you.

Shit.

Having the Windows App Store as a "feature" to sell the Surface is like having the Sahara as a feature for a water bottle..

Given the lack of support they've given to WP7, only the most uninformed would buy their tablet.

Posted by MrMazz

IF I buy a tablet why would I want a keyboard?

Posted by KaosAngel

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

@KaosAngel said:

@Atrus3 said:

@KaosAngel said:

How the hell Microsoft have such a low resolution? This shit is only 1080p from the specs, Apple's already been doing well above that.

Sooooo if it's not from Apple, you're going to go ahead and write it off?

I swear, it's like you people WANT there to be one company that dominates the market. It's sad.

Nah dude it's basic history.

Zune and WP7 are already proof of this. 3 years too late.

Basic history like the Xbox that is the no1 selling console now? And 1080p is far than enough, I still think 1080p looks great on my 40inch TV so it will look amazing on a 11 inch tablet. Plus all that added resolution eats battery life. To me any way Battery Life > Resolution.

...but that point is moot as the iPad 3 still has the best battery life out of all tablets and has the best resolution.

Edited by Sooty

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

iPad is just so boring, its just a big iPhone, I have a iPhone.

Yes it is, but that larger screen gives it a whole lot more of usability over the iPhone, which is all that matters.

@MrMazz said:

IF I buy a tablet why would I want a keyboard?

This is for people wanting to replace a laptop, it's really not even an iPad competitor so I don't know why it's on this website, even if it was an iPad competitor I don't get why it's posted about on here.

The standalone Windows 8 slates will be iPad competitors though.

Posted by BoomSnapClap113

I can see this doing well in the suit and tie market. Business men conducting serious business.

USB and Keyboard attachment are both suited well for this market.

Posted by DoctorWelch

@gesi1223 said:

@DoctorWelch said:

@KaosAngel said:

That shit going to flop.

No one is going to waste more money on a MS tablet than buy an iPad. Google tried it already and they still haven't made a dent.

Good luck with that, just like how Microsoft took out Apple and Google in the handset market!

You clearly don't understand the point of this tablet combined with Windows 8. It's not just a tablet, it's a legitimate laptop unlike all other tablets, that's the big difference. This combines the ultrabook and tablet market into one.

Maybe so, but that doesn't necessarily mean it will sell well. It has to appeal to the mass market. Especially the people who already have an iPad or even the ones who don't but just want a new Tablet for the novelty. Apple has already saturated the market, I don't expect the Windows 8 tablet to compete with iPads as well as people are hoping.

They have saturated the market with a product that no one can actually use for anything other than leisure. Take that and the fact that Apple's products and marketing strategy with apps purposefully try to kill off old products there is no reason why this would not sell if it is a better product. If they have "saturated the market" than even Apple would not be able to sell more iPads, but they do. You are also thinking way to small. This is not going straight at the iPad, it's combining two or more markets into one in order to create a whole new market that makes iPads and ultrabooks obsolete. The only question now is usability and execution. If they manage to make a product that feels great to use, it will essentially destroy the tablet and possibly even the low-mid end laptop. The big deal is that companies always play catch-up with Apple, but Microsoft is actually creating something completely new, and actually positioning something innovative and new rather than a mimic of what is already out there. For the last point though, this entire thing is going to appeal to every single person that uses any laptop or tablet other than people that use laptops over the $1000 range. If the price starts at $500 it kills of the low level laptop market, kills the tablet market, and kills the ultrabook market if they upper range gets to about $800 or so.

This is all just the facts of positioning in the market. The only real thing to debate now is the execution of this product. If the keyboard feels shitty, if it runs worse than an iPad, and if you can't use it like a laptop then it will fail. However, if they execute on everything they are going for there is no denying that this will be a great product that will probably go on to be extremely successful.

Again, the main point here is cutting into markets by creating a whole new market instead of playing catch-up.

Posted by Skytylz

@Cyrisaurus said:

That keyboard looks soooo unsatisfying. if you're going to add keyboard hardware, I want actually buttons to press.

I read somewhere that it has like 1.5 mm action on the keys, so there is a press. Not a huge one but it's there.

Posted by JordanK85

Tablets are still a luxury item. Apple saturated the luxury market as they tend to do but that leaves the people who still don't have tablets and someone has to fill the lower-end affordable market as tablets become a ubiquitous item. Google and Microsoft are the two best bets to do that as Apple can't do that without harming their brand. I just hope "priced to compete" doesn't mean priced to compete with the iPad because they simply can't win that market with their brand and the market doesn't need any more expensive tablets.

Posted by Bourbon_Warrior

@KaosAngel said:

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

@KaosAngel said:

@Atrus3 said:

@KaosAngel said:

How the hell Microsoft have such a low resolution? This shit is only 1080p from the specs, Apple's already been doing well above that.

Sooooo if it's not from Apple, you're going to go ahead and write it off?

I swear, it's like you people WANT there to be one company that dominates the market. It's sad.

Nah dude it's basic history.

Zune and WP7 are already proof of this. 3 years too late.

Basic history like the Xbox that is the no1 selling console now? And 1080p is far than enough, I still think 1080p looks great on my 40inch TV so it will look amazing on a 11 inch tablet. Plus all that added resolution eats battery life. To me any way Battery Life > Resolution.

...but that point is moot as the iPad 3 still has the best battery life out of all tablets and has the best resolution.

Imagine if it didnt have the overkill screen, it might actually last more than a day.

Posted by KaosAngel

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

Imagine if it didnt have the overkill screen, it might actually last more than a day.

My iPad 3 runs great at my military training using it daily for classes. I charge it every couple days.

Edited by Radar

@goatmilk said:

Here we go again. A lesson that Microsoft never learns.

Yeah, the Zune was technically superior to the iPods at the time but it flopped, and I'm guessing the same thing will happen with this. Why? Because MS can't market for shit. They just throw money at products and will them to succeed. Plus they come into the game late. How many iPads & Android tablets are already out there? Millions. I know this has more functionality than a normal tablet etc but it still won't get anywhere near the level of success the iPad has. One reason being the terrible interface (Metro) but mainly because Apple is EVERYWHERE. The people who don't want to pay the premium for an iPad already have a brilliant open alternative in Android.

If they launched this at $200 it might have a chance, otherwise it'll just be a relatively small group of people who buy it - just like the Zune. Just like Windows phones.

The Zune's failure is because Zune appeared when the dedicated MP3 player market was waning and MP3 was already synonymous with iPod. I think Microsoft has changed since then. We're seeing a lot more convergence between their "silos" (hardware, Xbox, Windows, web) in an Apple AND a Google way. Microsoft is creating iOS and Android apps now.. we wouldn't see that from Microsoft in the Zune-era. Android has yet to have their "defacto" tablet (No, Kindle Fire doesn't count) and has very little market share. Microsoft isn't aiming for Apple, it's aiming to take out Google first.

I think the RT tablet is probably going to be iPad's price point and the Windows 8 version is going to compete with ultrabooks. This "Xbox Surface" may compete with the ~$200-250 Kindle Fire price.