Microsoft has unveiled its first own-brand tablet range, called Surface. The Surface tablets will run the Windows 8 operating system, and feature an attachable cover that doubles as a keyboard, as well as a full-size USB slot.
There will be two versions of the Microsoft Surface tablets initially, one running Windows 8 Pro and one running Windows 8 RT. Pricing and availability are yet to be announced, but we’d expect to see these tablets launched in the Autumn.
Microsoft is pitching these tablets at the higher end of the market, and the price point is likely to be comparable to an ultrabook computer, so we anticipate initial prices to be over £800 for the Pro version.
The most innovative feature of the Surface tablets is the magnetic cover that protects the screen when shut. When opened, this reveals a full keyboard with touchpad making the device look and feel like a laptop.
Microsoft Surface with Windows 8 Pro
Designed with work in mind, the Microsoft Surface with Windows 8 Pro has specifications that are comparable to a laptop.
It will run on the upcoming Windows 8 Pro operating system, a professional version of Windows 8 which can run both apps and traditional Windows programs. Popular Windows-based software like Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop and many more will be compatible.
The tablet has a 10.6-inch screen. This is larger than on most tablets, and its Full HD resolution should give a detailed image. The choice of memory sizes includes 64GB and 128GB.
There is a high-speed, full-size USB 3.0 port and an SDXC card slot. The Pro tablet also comes with a stylus pen, and the tablet is able to distinguish when you have your hand pressed against the screen while using the pen.
The Surface Windows 8 Pro tablet weighs 903g and measures 13.5mm thick – nearly 40% heavier and 44% thicker than the iPad 3.
Microsoft Surface with Windows RT
The Microsoft Surface tablet with Windows RT is thinner at 9.3mm, and weighs considerably less at 676g.
Windows RT is an operating system specifically designed for mobile devices, and it doesn’t let you install traditional Windows programs, relying on apps alone.
Your apps are displayed in a customisable tiled-interface display, and you’ll be able to download apps from the Windows Store. The Office Home & Student 2013 app will be pre-installed.
The Surface Windows RT will come with either 32GB or 64GB of on-board storage, a full-size USB 2.0 port and a micro-SD card slot. It also has a 10.6-inch screen, but with a lower resolution than the Winows 8 Pro version.