In 2002, Microsoft had a vision. They had the idea of the Tablet PC. They could use touch with a stylus and have that as their main input device. They had the software ready to create an entire ecosystem. Relying on PC OEM’s to produce a tablet computer did not pay off. Fujitsu and HP were the only big vendors to attempt to produce a tablet computer.
The lack of sales allowed Apple to release the iPad in 2010, and have a stranglehold of the tablet market as we know it. Once it was released, consumers were excited, and competitors were caught flat footed. Motorola was the first to make a serious push to swing back at Apple, but Apple punched back with the iPad 2. Many others have tried, but no one has released a product competitive with the iPad.
Until Microsoft showed up to the party.
They announced a product that has the ability to really make consumers think twice about their tablet purchase. Their keyboard accessory makes it a product I would love to invest in. And, it is going to run Windows 8, which is a very tablet friendly OS.
Microsoft is going to be releasing 2 models with 2 storage options. The first model is going to be powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 3. Storage options for this particular SKU are 32GB and 64GB. That makes me thing that we are going to see the price on this at around $599 and $699, the exact same price as the iPads at that storage. To me, I would think that this price is a little too high, but they do want to be seen as a comparable value as the iPad. Also, they have to make sure that they leave some room for other vendors, because they will probably start at around $300. Microsoft’s surface will be the flagship Windows 8 tablet.
This will include Windows RT with Microsoft Office included. This particular version will support all of the Metro Apps, but not support and apps that are supported currently in Windows 7 and older.
The other model is very much the same, but also very much different. It is going to be powered by Ivy Bridge’s Core i5, and include storage options at 64GB and 128GB. They wanted us to think that it would be comparable to an Ultrabook, and therefore makes me speculate that it will be priced comparable as well. I’m guessing $899 and $999. This will come with Windows 8 Professional, which will include support for legacy applications.
Both models will support Microsoft’s new keyboard accessory. The keyboard accessory will fold over to protect the front of the screen. It is worth mentioning that there are 2 different keyboards for the Windows 8 surface. One is more like a traditional laptop keyboard, the other is more of a touch keyboard, rather than a press. When you see these in stores, I hope that they will allow users to experience both.
You will notice that each model will include a “kickstand” as well. That will allow you to use it like a normal laptop. With the iPad, you have to buy a stand. For users who purchase a iPad and a bluetooth keyboard, you will also need to buy the stand to keep it propped up. It’s nice to have this integrated into the device. Also, you can use it to prop it up and use it as a digital picture frame, which, again you would need a stand to keep it presentable with the iPad.
Those are the more important things for the Microsoft Surface tablet. It sets the tone for how Windows 8 tablets should be. It also models the future PC’s on how they need to look. There is very little innovation in the PC space, so that makes me incredibly happy that Microsoft took the initiative to release their own tablet, saying this is the experience you need to have.