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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
Edited by xyzygy

Just budgeted out my finances and if I'll be able to get this on launch... and it's a resounding yyyuuuuuup. Exciting. I'll be getting the Intel 128 GB version, whenever that is released. I think I read somewhere that the Intel versions will debut a few months later; I can wait.

Anyone else know what version they want?

Posted by Karmum

@zanshin said:

ipod -> zune

ipad -> surface

Do the math.

Popularity or actually what's better? Because the Zune Market and Zune HD were fantastic, it's just a shame they never really took off. Still rocking my 32GB Zune HD. I would argue the device is better than iPod Touch, as long as you're not using it for apps. Yes, the Zune HD apps were certainly...lacking to say the least. Clearly a better music player, though.

Posted by nERVEcenter

The iPad and Android alternatives barely qualify as competitors. I've only ever seen them used for content consumption. Unless I've been completely ignorant and you can get Adobe Solidworks on iOS. Then I'll be totally wrong.

Posted by Dan_CiTi

Well hopefully it isn't ass. I don't see what the tablet (not laptop) offers above the iPad other than a different UI that has a handfull small advantages (ambient information), and I cannot imagine price being something that is more than $100 difference.

Posted by Bourbon_Warrior

@fustacluck said:

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

@KaosAngel said:

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

OK its just a translator school, cool. I thought you were in the real military.

What? We're the top percentage of the military. Are you honest to god a moron?

LOL. Its just a language institute for the ARMY, the top percentage are the ones on the front line, not arm chair soldiers.

Dude, you're showing yourself to be a complete cretin. The "real military" is made up of more than just bullet-stoppers. I don't know what KaosAngel does, but in the British forces other languages are taught to a variety of trades, including special forces. Until you know, I'd keep quiet.

I think the "top percentage" are the ones that are on the front line and coming home in body bags....

Posted by Bourbon_Warrior

@Goldanas said:

I'm pretty much an Anti-Apple Advocate (or Triple A), and unfortunately I have to play Devil's Advocate here. When the bomb crew posts news about the iPad, people lose their shit:

WHERE ARE THE GAMES!!?

They say. But just doing a casual look through these comments, I don't see any of that for this device. There was pretty much nothing about games at that conference apart from a light mention of "it'll play games", and that was it. They didn't even show any of the games that are already available on the Windows 8 Store.

I have no problem with this or the iPad being on the news section, but I'm just saying at some point being a fanboy crosses the line into being a hypocrite.

Thats cause this is a actual PC under it all, id love to play Diablo 3 and Sim City on this thing.

Posted by fustacluck

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

@fustacluck said:

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

@KaosAngel said:

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

OK its just a translator school, cool. I thought you were in the real military.

What? We're the top percentage of the military. Are you honest to god a moron?

LOL. Its just a language institute for the ARMY, the top percentage are the ones on the front line, not arm chair soldiers.

Dude, you're showing yourself to be a complete cretin. The "real military" is made up of more than just bullet-stoppers. I don't know what KaosAngel does, but in the British forces other languages are taught to a variety of trades, including special forces. Until you know, I'd keep quiet.

I think the "top percentage" are the ones that are on the front line and coming home in body bags....

OK, stop for a second and think logically before running your keyboard.

Absolutely no disrespect meant to those fallen, but if the "top percentage" of your military are coming home in bodybags, what chance has the rest of your military?

Do you have any personal experience in the military, outside of watching Fox News? If you did, you'd know that recruitment goes like this: You get recruited. If you don't have any skills or talents that your country needs, you get trained as an infantryman. If you do, you get trained as both an infantryman, and whatever trade (or speciality (or in American translation, specialty)) that can exploit such skills and talents. As your country has more to lose by these people being killed, they don't necessarily go to the front line, being positioned either behind or, in an even smaller percentage, ahead of this front line. Again, I can't predict the future for KaosAngel, but if you are likely to be ahead of that front line, you will normally be trained in the language of that area. These are usually considered the "top percentage" and usually face rigorous experience and/or testing to qualify.

Again no disrespect to those on the front line, but your country would rather have people they consider expendable on the frontline than their top percentage. It's the harsh reality of conflict and not only always has been, but also always will be.

Edited by Kosayn

I have yet to buy a smartphone or a tablet, and touchscreen typing being too slow and unwieldy is why. I've used them plenty, and if you have learned to type, screen typing literally cuts your communication speed and work speed down to less than a third. But this thing could easily be your only computer.

I hope Apple does makes one of these keyboard covers on a future model too, for the betterment of the unwashed masses. But until they also get their head straight on USB ports and other computing standards, this is a far more exciting prospect to me. Hope it works well in practice. I honestly don't care who takes the cash in as long as we can get away from these closed content-consumption only devices.

I'm not a Metro advocate yet by any means. But if it's customizable enough when released, or becomes more so in the future from private efforts, then I'll definitely be interested. The stock 1 size fits all experience has never been a reason to use a Microsoft OS, and that's consistent throughout their history. But compatibility and configurability are really important.

Posted by Rolento

@pingz said:

There is nothing wrong with the Metro Start Screen. It is superior in every way... think of it as a really big "Start menu" if that makes you less afraid of it.

If anything Metro apps are the thing that i'm still hesitant with. Unless its something I do full screen like games... Metro apps are not something I like as much as desktop apps. Still on a tablet with touch... Metro apps are superior to desktop apps.

Still this has nothing to do with IT upgrading. The actual reason IT people will pass is that IT is always behind the tech curve when it comes to OS upgrades. Just now are IT departments transitioning to Windows 7 from XP.... they are not going to do a move to Windows 8 anytime soon as it is unnecessary.

This isn't a surprise... this is how OS upgrades have been done in big corporate IT departments for decades.

I'm most certainly not scared of it; I find it to be horribly cumbersome, inefficient, and obnoxious to use with keyboard and mouse. I also don't need my users wasting time on twitter feeds, facebook updates, weather apps, and whatever other nonsense they invent to shove in your face. These things are fine for people in their home, not so much in the enterprise. Not to mention the learning curve. End users are generally not savvy, and teaching them a whole new paradigm is a nightmare.

As for IT and upgrades, I suppose that depends on the people in charge. My entire environment (a $3b organization) runs on ESX hosts with Windows 2008R2 servers. Exchange 2010, and a mix of SQL08 and SQL12. The vast majority of the workstations are Windows 7 with a few XP here and there. And then Wyse terminals running apps published from Citrix XenApp 6. Nothing particularly old. I'm still having my hardware team move forward with deploying Windows 7 Enterprise. We will be passing on deploying Windows 8, even though we'll get it with our licensing agreement. Metro is utter garbage.

Posted by PandaBear

@fustacluck said:

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

@fustacluck said:

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

@KaosAngel said:

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

OK its just a translator school, cool. I thought you were in the real military.

What? We're the top percentage of the military. Are you honest to god a moron?

LOL. Its just a language institute for the ARMY, the top percentage are the ones on the front line, not arm chair soldiers.

Dude, you're showing yourself to be a complete cretin. The "real military" is made up of more than just bullet-stoppers. I don't know what KaosAngel does, but in the British forces other languages are taught to a variety of trades, including special forces. Until you know, I'd keep quiet.

I think the "top percentage" are the ones that are on the front line and coming home in body bags....

OK, stop for a second and think logically before running your keyboard.

Absolutely no disrespect meant to those fallen, but if the "top percentage" of your military are coming home in bodybags, what chance has the rest of your military?

Do you have any personal experience in the military, outside of watching Fox News? If you did, you'd know that recruitment goes like this: You get recruited. If you don't have any skills or talents that your country needs, you get trained as an infantryman. If you do, you get trained as both an infantryman, and whatever trade (or speciality (or in American translation, specialty)) that can exploit such skills and talents. As your country has more to lose by these people being killed, they don't necessarily go to the front line, being positioned either behind or, in an even smaller percentage, ahead of this front line. Again, I can't predict the future for KaosAngel, but if you are likely to be ahead of that front line, you will normally be trained in the language of that area. These are usually considered the "top percentage" and usually face rigorous experience and/or testing to qualify.

Again no disrespect to those on the front line, but your country would rather have people they consider expendable on the frontline than their top percentage. It's the harsh reality of conflict and not only always has been, but also always will be.

I just hope the battery life on the Windows 8 version is comparable to the iPad... wait what?

Posted by fustacluck

@PandaBear: Sorry. Went a little off-topic didn't we.

Posted by fiberpay

Interesting, going to keep my eye on this. I never bought an Ipad because they cant do crap. My $250 netbook can do more, but a tablet that can actually run windows in promising. As long as it can run my AutoCAD, Solidworks, ect... I'll probably get one.

Edited by Dan_CiTi

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

@Goldanas said:

I'm pretty much an Anti-Apple Advocate (or Triple A), and unfortunately I have to play Devil's Advocate here. When the bomb crew posts news about the iPad, people lose their shit:

WHERE ARE THE GAMES!!?

They say. But just doing a casual look through these comments, I don't see any of that for this device. There was pretty much nothing about games at that conference apart from a light mention of "it'll play games", and that was it. They didn't even show any of the games that are already available on the Windows 8 Store.

I have no problem with this or the iPad being on the news section, but I'm just saying at some point being a fanboy crosses the line into being a hypocrite.

Thats cause this is a actual PC under it all, id love to play Diablo 3 and Sim City on this thing.

Why in the world would you want to play SimCity on this? And any action game would be pretty silly unless it was touch-enabled extremely well. Why not just have a laptop at this point? It's probably going to be more capable, have a better screen, and all that. I understand the cover keyboard being good, since writing word documents on the iPad is no good. And the only content creation that can be done on that thing is music creation (FL Studio, Beat Maker 2, Garage Band, iMaschine, etc.) and some more basic drawing with Adobe Ideas and those things.

I'm just failing to see how this is anything but Microsoft iPad with a real keyboard that Apple will probably rip-off in a year or two and a weird custom version of Windows for it.

Oh man I'm going to the park, gonna break out my Surface, the tactile keyboard, and my mouse, plug that all in and work. I mean just get an ultrabook. I mean is this thing REALLY gonna run photoshop that well for the portability? And all the nice web browsing, reading, occasional video watching, and few paragraphs worth of text now and then can be done now already very well on the iPad 3. I guess one of those with an SD card slot and USB makes it thaaat much better to some people, but doing crazy custom stuff for it, which ultimately means mostly just rooting it and getting it to play emulators and plugging in a 360 controller is a cool thing, but eh, I have played those same SNES and GBA and whatever easily emulate-able games too many times on everything from their original platforms to the PSP and Wii. The other obvious custom stuff that comes out is also barely a thing to me too.

Though I find this more appealing than an iPad, but only by a little bit, and that is if all of the apps and UI are up to par. Like 10 apps worth having and kind of sluggish but pretty UI won't cut it. Though Windows Phone 7 is great, and the UI IS good, the apps still are not there so much. Hopefully they get it right, like with Windows 7 and the Xbox slim (and not like the Kinect and the current Xbox dashboard).

Posted by titan04

The reason this product can be a success is business, a tablet with a real file system that companies can lock down as they see fit and that you will always have a keyboard with you. If you can get 10+ hours of battery life on it so you can get a full day of use out of it without needing to charge I really don't see a reason why this couldn't be a successful product. However I don't think this appeals to the average non tech savvy person as much as an ipad does. The problem is that I don't think microsoft can make the user experience better than apple can, however I think it doesn't make any sense to completely dismiss the product until you have it in your hands and you can try it out because "feel" can mean alot to a device like this.

Posted by ShiftyMagician

So long as Surface has the normal desktop as well (last I checked Windows 8 has both), then this is something I actually want. The ability to do all the kinds of things I do on a typical PC but in a crazy portable form factor is great and Apple will never be able to completely fill my needs personally. Being able to program on that thing whilst enjoying a Windows PC environment with full-fledged desktop capabilities sounds awesome to me.

My only GB-relevant question now is how capable is it when playing games? Obviously I'm not expecting it to play Crysis like an idiot, but if I can play a good majority of games with reasonable requirements whilst on-the-go and be able to rely on that real nifty keyboard cover, then it will be my next portable computer to replace my laptop for sure.

Edited by Bourbon_Warrior

@Dan_CiTi: Because like you said you can install any program on it. FL Studio, Photoshop, Illustrator and Final Cut. You can only get watered down versions for the limited iPad. Plus it comes with a stylus which would make Diablo and Simcity awesome and the screen less scuffed and dirty. I will still mainly play on my PC but the way Diablo setup I could have a client installed on the tablet when I want to game in bed. I don't see what good apps iPad really has apart from games, everything else is just a lite version of the windows counterparts.

Posted by dragonboss

If these tablets run Win 8, it will be horrible, regardless of how good these look compared to the bitten fruit's offerings. Just imagine viruses that can disable the touch input for win 8 tablets. Also I still don't get why people buy tablets, and then buy keyboards to attach to them. Can they not see that they want a laptop with touchscreen? or actually a real tablet pc with detachable keyboard? #semi-rant

Edited by EXTomar

Why would you want to use Photoshop on an iPad or Surface when you can go to your workstation with a much better (anchored) display and much more ram and hard drive which can handle opening multiple large files effectively as well as processing entire batches much quicker?

The issue isn't that Adobe can't offer a version of Photoshop for iPad but why would they bother since they will be doing their work on a Mac Pro instead. Are people really going to want to do serious Photoshop work on a 10" 1366x768 Surface instead of their much better workstation?

Posted by Apparatus_Unearth

It looks cool, but I just bought the new iPad and I'm pretty invested in the IOS at this point.

Posted by dragonboss

@tescovee: You should award yourself for being one of the few sensible people to point out what the whole mac stuff is about. Hats off to you sir.

Posted by mdargis

@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!

Yeah, because that Xbox thing sure ain't working either.

Edited by Dan_CiTi

@Bartz said:

I expect the Microsoft tablet to launch at $2-300 less than the comparable iPad (overpriced vanities), which would be similar to the Laptop market. I might finally buy a tablet if they manage to make it functional (a given with Microsoft) and affordable (probable).

No way in hell the ARM one is $300, probably $400-500 though.

@Bourbon_Warrior: Except on these tablets, the non-ARM ones would still be really limited, slow, not have much HDD space, etc. to the point where like serious modern applications, I don't think they would run that well. But I'm not sure. And what would the stylus do exactly? Besides less fingerprints.

Also it would be awesome if this was like the PSP.

Posted by cyberhugger

smart cover looks neat.

Posted by JayDarco
@iam3green I want a tablet and I don't have an iPad...
Edited by xyzygy

@Dan_CiTi: How could you not see how the pen is useful? For artists using photoshop... drawing... taking notes in class (my personal favorite use of it)... there are so many things you can do with the pen.

My university posts things online via Blackboard, so I can just go over to the website, download the PDFs, and take notes over the notes provided. The pen isn't meant as a navigation tool.@dragonboss said:

If these tablets run Win 8, it will be horrible, regardless of how good these look compared to the bitten fruit's offerings. Just imagine viruses that can disable the touch input for win 8 tablets. Also I still don't get why people buy tablets, and then buy keyboards to attach to them. Can they not see that they want a laptop with touchscreen? or actually a real tablet pc with detachable keyboard? #semi-rant

They're not buying a tablet and then a keyboard. The keyboard just happens to also be the cover, and when used with the stand creates and ultra-portable laptop/tablet hybrid that you can use in much smaller spaces than you could a laptop and providing touch controls which cater to many different uses. Having a laptop with a touchscreen is stupid because you'd constantly be reaching over the keyboard. With this you can just fold the cover/keyboard back and use the pen to take notes and navigate with your fingers.

Posted by Butano

@Dan_CiTi said:

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

@Goldanas said:

I'm pretty much an Anti-Apple Advocate (or Triple A), and unfortunately I have to play Devil's Advocate here. When the bomb crew posts news about the iPad, people lose their shit:

WHERE ARE THE GAMES!!?

They say. But just doing a casual look through these comments, I don't see any of that for this device. There was pretty much nothing about games at that conference apart from a light mention of "it'll play games", and that was it. They didn't even show any of the games that are already available on the Windows 8 Store.

I have no problem with this or the iPad being on the news section, but I'm just saying at some point being a fanboy crosses the line into being a hypocrite.

Thats cause this is a actual PC under it all, id love to play Diablo 3 and Sim City on this thing.

Why in the world would you want to play SimCity on this? And any action game would be pretty silly unless it was touch-enabled extremely well. Why not just have a laptop at this point? It's probably going to be more capable, have a better screen, and all that. I understand the cover keyboard being good, since writing word documents on the iPad is no good. And the only content creation that can be done on that thing is music creation (FL Studio, Beat Maker 2, Garage Band, iMaschine, etc.) and some more basic drawing with Adobe Ideas and those things.

I'm just failing to see how this is anything but Microsoft iPad with a real keyboard that Apple will probably rip-off in a year or two and a weird custom version of Windows for it.

Oh man I'm going to the park, gonna break out my Surface, the tactile keyboard, and my mouse, plug that all in and work. I mean just get an ultrabook. I mean is this thing REALLY gonna run photoshop that well for the portability? And all the nice web browsing, reading, occasional video watching, and few paragraphs worth of text now and then can be done now already very well on the iPad 3. I guess one of those with an SD card slot and USB makes it thaaat much better to some people, but doing crazy custom stuff for it, which ultimately means mostly just rooting it and getting it to play emulators and plugging in a 360 controller is a cool thing, but eh, I have played those same SNES and GBA and whatever easily emulate-able games too many times on everything from their original platforms to the PSP and Wii. The other obvious custom stuff that comes out is also barely a thing to me too.

Though I find this more appealing than an iPad, but only by a little bit, and that is if all of the apps and UI are up to par. Like 10 apps worth having and kind of sluggish but pretty UI won't cut it. Though Windows Phone 7 is great, and the UI IS good, the apps still are not there so much. Hopefully they get it right, like with Windows 7 and the Xbox slim (and not like the Kinect and the current Xbox dashboard).

The thing with the Pro version, is that it will have an i5 Ivy Bridge processor that will run legacy programs. So basically, whatever runs on a Windows 7 ultrabook will run on Windows 8. This isn't Android or iOS or WP7, this is full on Windows. It IS an ultrabook. That's going to be the hardest part to sell I think to those who think it's just a WP7 tablet with a cool looking keyboard.

Posted by Bourbon_Warrior

@Dan_CiTi said:

@Bartz said:

I expect the Microsoft tablet to launch at $2-300 less than the comparable iPad (overpriced vanities), which would be similar to the Laptop market. I might finally buy a tablet if they manage to make it functional (a given with Microsoft) and affordable (probable).

No way in hell the ARM one is $300, probably $400-500 though.

@Bourbon_Warrior: Except on these tablets, the non-ARM ones would still be really limited, slow, not have much HDD space, etc. to the point where like serious modern applications, I don't think they would run that well. But I'm not sure. And what would the stylus do exactly? Besides less fingerprints.

Also it would be awesome if this was like the PSP.

The stylus would give pin point accuracy, for games like sim city, civ etc instead of a 1 inch diameter a finger does. And would be great for drawing!

Posted by Bourbon_Warrior

@EXTomar said:

Why would you want to use Photoshop on an iPad or Surface when you can go to your workstation with a much better (anchored) display and much more ram and hard drive which can handle opening multiple large files effectively as well as processing entire batches much quicker?

The issue isn't that Adobe can't offer a version of Photoshop for iPad but why would they bother since they will be doing their work on a Mac Pro instead. Are people really going to want to do serious Photoshop work on a 10" 1366x768 Surface instead of their much better workstation?

Not true. Using a stylus like a pen for Illustrator would be alot better on a tablet.

Posted by dragonboss

@xyzygy: No I meant the people buying tablets, ipads especially, and later buying a keyboard for it. This Suface tablet and the ASUS transformer are the only proper solutions I've seen, but people in general seem to have money to burn on the ipads and accessories instead of buying real tablets like manufacturers like Toshiba used to make, because after all they want it either because its the in-thing or because it plays annoyed avians :/

Edited by EXTomar

@Bourbon_Warrior said:

@EXTomar said:

Why would you want to use Photoshop on an iPad or Surface when you can go to your workstation with a much better (anchored) display and much more ram and hard drive which can handle opening multiple large files effectively as well as processing entire batches much quicker?

The issue isn't that Adobe can't offer a version of Photoshop for iPad but why would they bother since they will be doing their work on a Mac Pro instead. Are people really going to want to do serious Photoshop work on a 10" 1366x768 Surface instead of their much better workstation?

Not true. Using a stylus like a pen for Illustrator would be alot better on a tablet.

For what? The best setup I've seen is using Cintiq on a mount that allowed them to push it to the wall or pull it to their desk. Why would Illustrator be better on Surface than a dual monitor desktop like this?

Posted by EndlessLotus

This is actually looking fairly well done. Depending on the price, I might just get one....

Posted by Bourbon_Warrior

@EXTomar: Because you are drawing directly onto the image with a tablet. instead of a pad that comes up on the monitor. This helps alot, plus you can just chillout in bed or on the couch drawing! Sounds great no?

Posted by AndrewDeLong

@Lazyaza said:

I am genuinely interested in this. I've always despised all apple products on a philosophical level and beyond so a decent competitor for the Ipad I may actually be interested in is a welcome sight.

Yeah i know that feeling man. I have this philosophy where computer companies should release shitty and half-baked products.

Edited by D_train_lives

Its still a pad, let me check, yep got a desktop and a smartphone making this thing useless.

Posted by kroonberg

This looks so good!

Posted by SmilingPig

Yes its great, watch it fail in mid microsoft presentation.

Posted by OllyOxenFree
@SmilingPig said:

Yes its great, watch it fail in mid microsoft presentation.

lolololol epic fail for the win!!!!!!!
Posted by Kazona

After reading more about this, I am very interested in it.

Posted by Cubical

The fucking table was way more bad ass than this and you could play new types of games on it, it could have restarted the fucking arcades I would totaly fucking pay to play on this thing.

OH and it is not hard to make something better than apple crap a 4 year old can do it.

Posted by banishedsoul1

welcome to 2006 microsoft