Microsoft has officially announced its next technological marvel: A new tablet device called, simply, Microsoft Surface. The company is already on the receiving end of the traditional and anticipated backlash, but is standing behind its “companion hardware innovation”, which it explains has been designed to work specifically with Windows 8.
The tablet sets itself apart from the others on the market with a few simple techniques, including the introduction of a built-in kickstand. While Surface doesn’t include a conventional keyboard or mouse, there is a handy optional cover which snaps on using magnets (sound familiar?), which also includes a super-thin keyboard and a multi-touch trackpad.
As it has been purpose-built by Microsoft, Surface will natively run a full version of Windows 8, so – hopefully – it should also run any games designed for that OS, but nobody’s quite sure yet just how well.
There are two individual Surfaces, one just 9.4 millimetres thick and weighing 1.3 pounds. This one will have a price tag “similar to the iPad”, placing it somewhere around the US$500-US$800 mark in the United States.
The other is less than 14mm thick and weighs less than 2 pounds, but will run Windows 8 Pro, costing consumers roughly the same amount as an Ultrabook. This pro version will also come with a stylus, for handy hand-written notes – but it’ll take an extra three months to come to market.
Details are pretty slim – nobody’s making any statements on battery life, whether Skype will run on the platform and whether it will be Kinect-enabled in any way. The glaring omission from today’s presentation however was just how Surface will interact with the new Smart Glass functionality unveiled at E3 just a couple of weeks ago.