Surface

Microsoft came back to life this evening, at least for a little bit. They showed off their latest idea, namely the Microsoft Surface, and have made a pretty big splash on the Interwebz. It's not quite what we expected from a Windows 8 tablet, but for the most part Microsoft delivered (or will be delivering) what a lot of people were asking for -- some parity between the desktop and mobile. Be sure to read the front page of WPCentral to see all there is to see about the Microsoft Surface.

But is it too little, too late? Let's be honest, Windows Phone 7 looks pretty damn nice. It's still behind the curve in some features, but there's nothing there that we can look at and say, "I understand why it's not selling -- XXX is horrible." People just don't seem to be interested on the same level they are with Android and iOS. Believe it or not, that makes us sad -- a strong third player means the top two have to try harder, and we benefit when they try harder. But today's news was different it seems. People were excited about a Microsoft product again.

So what say you, loyal readers and late-night poll respondents? Did you see anything to get excited about? Tell us in tonight's poll.

 

Reader comments

Late-night poll: Did the Microsoft Surface get you interested?

90 Comments

If I had need for such a beast, I'd go with the intel. But honestly, I hardly take full advantage of my Gnex, and between it and my desktop, I'm more then covered as far as computing and entertainment goes. I really don't need it.

Would I like one? Sure! Could I justify picking one up...no, not even close. However, if someone is feeling generous, just PM me. I'll let you know where to ship it to :)

I've been using the Samsung Series 7 Slate with Windows 8 for about 5 months now. It's a great machine. I think if they can improve Windows 8 a bit and get the hardware to where Android tablets are currently, they will give Google and Apple a SERIOUS run for their money. This looks a lot like what they announced last night.

Microsoft has a huge developer base, especially on the enterprise side. Their development tools are amazing and very well supported. This announcement got me VERY interested.

I'm thinking developers will look at Win 8 tablets as more compelling to develop for than Android. I love Android but I think it's tablet apps will get left behind.

The Intel version sounds awesome, but I'm guessing $999 at launch for x86 goodness. That'll prob kill any chance of me buying it.

^same.

i cannot justify the existence of anything running Windows RT, and windows 8 on a desktop is horrible (yes, i've used it, for 3 weeks now) but on a tablet, i don't think it would be half bad. but the price tag will probably kill any chances of me getting it. (same reason i don't have a Macbook Retina sitting on my lap- pure money issues.)

The issue I have with the MacBook Retina is they saddled a brilliant display with a mediocre video card. Otherwise, I would totally shell out the extra money for it.

They need to take a note from Google and other tablet makers making affordable tablets in the 2-400 range. the average household is not going to pay 1k for a tablet when for a few dollars more can get a laptop or netbook. Even asus, which people say is the best for now, are pretty price for a tablet and dock/keyboard for $600. I'm looking at what Google brings to the table for functionality and price, hopefully they'll also announce a 10' tab for 3-350

I'm also curious as to what will come out of Google I/O next week. You mentioned 10"tablet. I find it interesting that Asus hasn't released the Transformer Infinity yet. From what I heard, it was supposed to have been released during Computex. So could this be a 10" surprise along with the 7" Nexus next week?

The difference here is that the Intel version would be a laptop replacement. $1k for a laptop isn't that big of a stretch, especially in the enterprise.

No it didn't. I don't like tablets and tired of hearing about a windows 8 device on an Android site...

People! ! ! I can't believe the way this voting is looking!!!

No wonder we have a liberal looney for a president!!!

Android people!!!

I'm still one of those people that thinks tablets are just pointless. I'll keep my desktop, my laptop, and my android powered smartphone. I really don't need any devices beyond those.

I would largely agree. I'd say 95% of my tablet use is reading books. However, it's nice to have a quick pullout browser around when I need it.

I'm actually looking to get rid of my laptop once my new PC is built. I just don't really need it anymore. When I'm out and about, my phone is sufficient to get in my Twitter fix, check emails, news feeds, and so on. When I'm at home, I need a powerful computer to catch up on work and play games. My laptop isn't fitting in too well anymore - screen to small for work (two monitors in my office ^_^), not going to run the new stuff I want to play, and just too bulky for travel. A tablet wouldn't add any value to my technological life. I tried my hand at a Nook Color running CM, and I just stopped using it altogether one day. Maybe I'll keep it around for reading e-books on a bigger screen than my phone.

Gotta agree. I think the Tablet market is WAY overrated. However, WP8 lools interesting.But what do I know,I'm still running XP Pro on my Desktop. LOL

I am an ARM user for almost two decades now (Acorn RISCOS is still my daily favourite) so i tend to these devices "naturally"...

However, the MS tablet has some nice ideas, e.g. the touch and type covers. Odd is that the pen just comes with the x86 tablet. Yeah, x86 is what i want in an mobile, less energy consuming tablet...

Intel for me please. I still think ARM tablets are a niche product, despite the big iPad sales. There really is no substitute for a full desktop class OS, and for me thats Windows. Linux is still a joke on the desktop and Macs, well they are Apple, I need say no more.

The iPad/Android Tablet fanbois need to be honest here, they are a compromise device, running a cut down OS because thats all they can run.

To be fair I'm not sure any iPad/Android tablet fanboy/supporter would disagree that they are running a compromised device, but it's not like they don't have their advantages even in said compromised state.

Having said that, what Microsoft is doing with the Pro version in attempting to meld the tablet market into the laptop market with a tablet that can truly replace a PC is admirable, forward-thinking, and potentially brilliant, and it's great to see MS looking to innovate in a way we haven't seen for years. I am personally quite satisfied with my ASUS laptop and therefore don't need a new laptop, but if I did I would be seriously considering the Pro tablet right now. I have a feeling in a few years when it's time to upgrade my primary laptop the medium itself may look quite different, and it could be due to Microsoft's announcement today.

I watched the presentation live (on my new iPad).

I was mildly curious to start with; I am not naturally a Microsoft fan (though, of course, I use Windows 7 and Office daily).

I have to say that gradually my eyes bulged and my jaw dropped.

This looks like a sensational device (in both its iterations).

What I want to know next is:

1). What is the build like? How robust is it? (I am not asking for a bullet-proof device, simply one that will withstand wear and tear on the moving parts and the ports).
2). What is the touch experience like? The iPad is super-slick. Most of the Android tablets I have used, although very impressive, are subject to a certain small amount of lag or uncertainty.
3). How nimble is Windows 8 in navigating from app to app? And in a certain amount of multi-tasking. I know one of the selling points in the presentation was the PC-like abilities of this tablet. I have to say, my reaction to this claim is not entirely positive; all my current Windows 7 machines (i5, i3 and Core 2 Duo) are fairly slow and ungainly (compared to, say, my MacBook Pro or, most certainly, my iPad).

If the answers are positive, I think I may well jump on board. I need an ultrabook (about to buy a MacBook Air)... but I just might hold off.
I would have to make sacrifices to afford it. But I am one of those who puts books before food, knowledge before diet, the brain and the soul before the stomach.

A final point, when will it appear? (I can't wait for ever!)

Well done, Microsoft! (Never expected to hear myself saying that!)

Thanks! Nuff said and agree completely.

Shame we nolonger have a Thank You button. Either way, thanks for the insight! Sorli...

Probably more interested in the ARM version. I've always disliked the W8 interface, but on a tablet it will be quite good. I already have a laptop and desktop, so I'd probably just go for the ARM version, which would be substantially cheaper (I hope).

I still have no need for a tablet. That said, a laptop/tablet like the intel version could be interesting some time in the future.

I actually dont understand why people are getting so excited over this. I'm not even caring about Android, either, but just this tablet in general doesn't seem like anything special. If I want a convertible Windows tablet/laptop, Asus and Acer have already shown potential offerings, and they look nice. They have bigger screens and obviously much better keyboards. I don't see the need to save a few millimeters when that could be used to make the typing so much better. They have neat ideas, for sure, but if you take a step back and look at it - these are just convertible tablets with crappy keyboards. I would just take a real convertible.

Once the apps are more mature, it will get better. For now, the apps (Mail, Calendar, Photos, even Flikster and Evernote) are so lacking in feature, windows 8 users are forced into the standard desktop experience. Which is VERY similar to Win 7. I think the convenience of a tablet with the power/enterprise ability of a PC is going to be a KILLER combination.

The Intel version will be my first tablet, and my major tech purchase of this year. The iPad and Android tablets have never interested me because they are little more than toys. The Intel version of the Surface will bring the desktop capabilities to a tablet that the iPad and Android tablets lack. Also, Windows 8 will be a better experience in tablet form, and for that reason I would like to have the combo of my current Windows 7 laptop with a Windows 8 tablet-running the full, not cut down just for tablet form Windows 8. Sure, the Intel version will be considerably heavier and thicker than most tablets, but then again it will be running a productive desktop OS. Plus, 2 pounds really isn't that much-my laptop (which I find to be light) is twice as heavy.

Overall, I see the Intel version being the replacement for laptops we've been looking for since Windows 8 is by many accounts better in tablet form. So you get the better end of the experience along with desktop capabilities that mainstream tablets have been lacking.

I'm sorry, but these are tired arguments. Atleast I'm tired of seeing them. Tablets are far more than toys and anyone that's uses one can attest to that. There's lots of productivity apps available and are more than usable for day to day tasks. I'm not saying they replace a desktop, they just do things differently in a way I like.

This whole notion that the intel version of win8 tablets is some sort of "miracle" device is really grating on me. First off intel graphics SUCK. Let me say that again, intel graphics SUCK. You basically getting a netbook with a touchscreen. You won't be gaming on these for some time, you might try, but you'll be very disappointed. I know they showed Lightroom, but there's already apps with most options people need and you can already run those on netbooks, albeit slowly.

And everyone please stop with the full OS stuff. An OS is an OS. There's very little android can or couldn't do if people wanted to do it. Same with IOS/OSX, which I believe will merge in a couple years. I'd argue the bloat that is windows could use some slimming down.

This is all going to come down to price anyway. It'll make no sense to go with a $999 glorified netbook if you can get a far more powerful laptop. I feel the same way with android and Ipads as well, too high a price and they aren't worth it. Diminishing returns.....

Eventually someone will come up with a true laptop replacement, but this isn't it. Given microsoft's past, I'm betting the price will be too high and they'll miss again.

And you read that it has Intel integrated graphics where exactly? I know what Intel integrated graphics are like. My laptop has Intel integrated graphics. Yes, they do suck. That said, we don't know anything about whether the Intel version will have Intel integrated graphics; it may or may not have them. Sure, if it does, then I'll probably pass because you are right in saying that they are wholly inadequate for gaming. As far as the "OS is an OS" thing, a desktop OS is in general far more productive for the average user. I have used the iPad and Android tablets plenty of times. Yes, you can do some pretty productive, useful stuff. But plain and simple you can't do as much as you can with a desktop OS device. Let's see, I can either turn on my tablet really quickly and use some app that offers some functionality, or I can turn on my laptop and wait a minute or so and start to use something that offers more functionality. Hence why tablets in general have so far arguably been toys for a lot of people.

The price will be key. But, if the Surface comes in at $999 and does not have Intel integrated graphics, I will be getting one. Why? Because it does make sense to go that route when Windows 8 is by all accounts probably going to be better as a tablet experience. Would you rather get a $999 ultrabook? Good luck finding a $999 ultrabook that is in any way more powerful than the Surface. Last I checked almost all ultrabooks in that price range have integrated graphics. So if the Surface does not have integrated graphics, it should be more powerful. If it does, then it sucks and so do ultrabooks in that price range and you shouldn't be wasting your time with either. Of course a traditional laptop in that price range should be more powerful, but then again people won't be cross-shopping a tablet with heavy laptops.

Where the Intel Surface competes is with ultrabooks, and considering how much more I'd want to use Windows 8 on a tablet vs. a normal laptop, if it delivers with the specs (no crappy graphics, great screen, etc.), I think it would be plenty worth it for $999.

Specs and real-life reviews or GTFO.

The Intel one appeals to me most but I'm concerned about battery life. Anything under 10hrs and I'll be hesitant.

It looks like a pretty sweeeeet device but I'm so involved in android with all the app that I've purchased that they better really frickin change the game they want me to chase new operating system

I would pick up the Intel version. I need a new laptop. Touchscreen WoW, anyone? Blue Stacks would let me use Android Apps. This thing has potential. The UI sucks, though. I don't want tiles. I want a Wallpaper with some widgets and some icons.

Not interested for my personal needs, but interested in general.

That said, why do so many of these products get released in mobile form factors (tablet in this case) but still require a flat desktop to use? Try using that setup in your lap while sitting in a recliner.

-Suntan

It interests me for one specific thing. Development.

I write apps for BlackBerry, Android, and Windows. I always thought it would be nice to be able to develop Android apps right on my tablet. Can't do it. The tools aren't there. Can't do it on BlackBerry either (Playbook doesn't have signing capabilities). That means I carry a rather hefty laptop with me, plus my tablet, my phone, and a BlackBerry for testing.

If the mobile version of W8 is just like the desktop version, then developing for W8 should be available on the Surface as well. Plus the ability to develop for Android and BlackBerry all on one device.

This looks like the perfect tool for the developer. I can see myself buying this as a replacement for my home laptop. I think it will be taking a very large bite out of the I-Pad market. I really like Surface, well thought out, great design with great specs. Love it.

I love Android for my phone, but for some reason it just isn't catching on in the tablet arena and I mostly blame developers for that. I determined about a year ago that only a Windows tablet can truly challenge the iPad. Only Windows can bring laptop capabilities to a tablet, which so far iOS and Android haven't been able to do, or don't care to do. And I think that's what a lot of people want.

They may not sell 2 million the first weekend like the iPad does. But I think people will start buying Windows tablets instead of another laptop, so it will take 2-3 years but I think eventually Windows tabs will push the iPad below 50% market share.

Windoze on a tablet...BSOD and viruses Yay! No thanks.....I'll stick to "Mobile OSes" thanks.

It will probably be too expensive for most and may be successful in the enterprise where people don't want to learn a new OS, but face it, consumers drive the tablet market and if it isn't geared towards consumers it will fail (Blackberry Playbook....just saying).

I stopped reading after

"sdreelin says:
Windoze on a tablet...BSOD and viruses Yay! No thanks.....I'll stick to "Mobile OSes" thanks."

Anyone who hasn't figured out yet that virus congestion on a particular OS is due to it's market popularity is not worthy. LOL!

I am pretty sure that the distinction between a "tablet" and a "laptop" will disappear in the future. The future lies with a converged device that consists of a tablet screen module and a laptop keyboard module. For higher performance, the keyboard is attached and it can either contain a more powerful GPU or CPU or both paired with hard drives etc.

I think this new Microsoft tablet is interesting, the x86 version. But I guess that "tabtops" is where the future lies - one computer for all rather than one laptop and one tablet.

Meh. The RT version may have a shot so long as MS supports ARM properly and the ecosystem takes off for it. As for the x86 Surface Pro that thing is DOA. By the time it hits market thinner, faster and cheaper Ultrabooks will be available with better battery life as well as touch screens. The Acer S7 is just one recent example shown at Computex. All that is needed is an Ultrabook with a swivel hinge and touch screen and voila! You have a Surface Pro.

At first glance, I was intrigued. But as I read more, I came to conclusion there are still too many unanswered questions for me. No details on most specs, no release date, no clear pricing information, no information on how this will be distributed, will it have a cellular radio, etc etc etc.

From everything I've seen, it could be months before most of these questions are answered. That's a long time to hold market interest and it almost feels like Microsoft announced this to try to remain relevant.

Microsoft has released tablets (I should say the hardware manufacturers) with full OS's before. They even had a Windows XP Tablet edition. Even laptops that fold over backward so the keyboard is hidden. They all failed. I suspect the same will occur here.

Asus has had it's Transformer line out for a couple years and with Google's huge market share of the mobile space vs Microsoft even they don't sell all that many of them.

It's a neat novelty or niche item but it will never take off. People will continue to either buy an ipad (or maybe some of the android tablets) for their angry birds or sales jobs or they will buy ultrabook/laptops to get real work done.

I'd only buy it if:

1> You can turn off Metro.
2> It's price competitive with similarly sized Android Tablets.

#1. you won't be able to.

#2. No chance in heck since this is more akin to a laptop then a tablet hardware wise. The hardware IMHO is probably going to come in around $500-$1300 for the Intel Pro version. The ARM version? Who knows. Its anyone's guess. The X factor in all of this is if Microsoft will subsidize the price like they did with the XBOX. If they do the above price is gone and its anyone's guess as to cost. My guess is they will subsidize the RT version since its geared more towards consumers. And not the Intel Pro version since its geared towards businesses. All of this is a complete WAG using the PIDOOMA model. See: http://www.dangerouslogic.com/office_lexicon.html#pidooma as a reference.

Microsoft Surface looks very nice, but I was thinking it would be nice if it is a 5" phone device which you can dock on a docking station with connection to monitor and keyboard/mouse. Nowadays we want to carry something smaller in our pocket but we want to be able to use it as a workstation using docking station, just like laptop. It can be used as a phone. and with Microsoft OS which is already used and accepted in corporate world, we can use it for works as well. though surface looks nice but we can not carry it in our pocket.

Microsoft absolutely has my attention. I've long said that the first tablet I buy has to be a viable replacement/supplement to my netbook. What I've been looking for is the ideal media consumption device that can also be used for the occasional bit of frustration free productivity. More importantly, I want to be able to seamlessly be able to stream and manipulate the media stored on my PC. Surface appears to do all of that, which makes it, on the surface (no pun intended), my ideal tablet.

I'm very interested to see what Google showcases with the Nexus tablet, as well as Amazon's next Kindle Fire offering. Until then, surface is my frontrunner.

Great product. These are a replacement for your home laptop or computer. This IMO is the best new product in the last few years. I am not a Apple hater but this product will take a big bite out of their market. This is a developers dream machine. The best part about windows computer is they are for everyone and can do it all. I will be buying surface, not sure what model but will buy it. I am in the market for a new laptop and this fits the bill. I am blown away over the fit and finish of this product. I think it is the future of the tablet and many will replace their laptops and home computers with this product.
Great Job Microsoft.

The Intel version sounds interesting. But I have a ton of questions.
#1. Price.

#2. Can I downgrade to Windows 7. The level at which I HATE metro can not be described.

#3. Price

#4. Battery life. If I'm only going to get 6 hours of real world battery life, NO.

My android tablet has changed my computing habits permanently..no more lugging around my heavy (in comparison) laptop. However, this is done with some significant sacrifices and I occasionaly do bust out the beast when I need portability and have to use certain window specific programs.

The surface from Microsoft looks like an upgrade from the Samsung slate presently available. If it has a decent dedicated graphics card for photo & some video editing I am more than sold. It will run my security apps, my android apps (using bluestacks), windows office...Outlook, etc.... It will be a no brainer.

Unfortunately to many $1k may seem like a lot of money to spend on hardware, but when you look at the specs, capabilities, portability, the price is not bad. Not to long ago ultra portables with i5 intel chips (first generation) were over $2k. Check out the price on that Samsung slate right now as well..These are all selling for much more than the rumored pricing for the surface..

In the end, choice is good, and if I can combine android and windows into on tablet/slate computer then I do not see how it is not a win for all sides.

Lots of others have mentioned price as being a big deal, and it is. It's not that this tablet cannot be worth whatever price we are imagining in absolute terms (and I think we're all imagining a price >$500), but in relative terms it's a terrible bet.

It's a bad bet...
... that Microsoft will continue investing in this device line for more than 6 months.
... that the utility of the software will surpass (likely) cheaper devices from Apple and Android-OEMs.
... that the developers will be nurtured by the WinMo ecosystem (yeah, I'm calling it WinMo, again).
... that there is room in the popular tablet economy for a 3rd/4th player depending upon how you count.
... that the price will be mind-blowingly cheap before the platform dies.
... that the market that matters will give Microsoft permission to birth and abort yet another promise within mere weeks.

This initiative could end up surpassing any or all of those things. But I just don't see the fight in Microsoft to keep up with whatever else is going on in the world they've grown into.

The biggest advantage (this version of) Surface has will be Windows compatibility, but with the disallowance of browsers, it makes me wonder if whatever ends up being the new Microsoft can ever be friends with it's old, legacy-lovin' self.

Those who care - want it for a notebook replacement.. I don't use my notebook at all much anymore after getting my Galaxy Tab 10.1 .. It's my primary read-only device and I use it even more than my phone daily.. If i need to do any real work - I use my 6 screen desktop.. Doing work on anything else is less productive.. and doing reading on anything other than my tablet is also less productive thanks to Pulse news reader..

Looks nice. I would treat it as I've treated every other Windows OS product I've owned tho.

Buy Windows Surface Tablet> Open box> Plug it in to charge> install Fedora

Would be nice if MS has an active digitizer on this. Then I may have finally found a replacement for my Motion and TC1100 tabs.

MIcrosoft will have to get rid of the big colorful gaudy looking tiles with the bright, class-less colors before I will even consider upgrading to Windows 8 or using their tablets. Every time I see a picture of the screen I think I am in a nursery room.

The intel version is nearly my dream machine. High res, pen, and slim keyboard. If only it has a great battery life and throw in an ARM chip to triple boot Android or RT when you don't need intel power and legacy apps. 16:10 insread of 16:9 would be nice too. ...dreams

I find it hard to believe that people are actually being suckered into believing Microsoft can deliver a usable product. Come on Charlie Brown how many times does Lucy have to pull the football out from under you? People use Microsoft products because they have to, not because they want to. When was the last time you heard someone wax poetic about the "Ribbon" or gush about the latest version of Access? Never. It's always more backwards-incompatible bloatware with new "features" that force you to relearn software you've been using for years. And is it just me, or is that "Metro" interface ugly? Someone needs to give Microsoft's design team a color wheel and teach them basic color theory. No thanks.

As soon as someone gets Windows 8 (preferably the Intel version) dual booting on a tablet with Android (not like the Asus thingy, though that looks really cool) I'm sold.

There's no need to dual-boot. Just install BlueStacks to get your Android fix from within the Windows OS itself.

After spending like 4 hours tonight trying to upgrade vista to windows 7 I'm just dying to have a windows 8 device to make my life a living IT hell. No Thanks.

haha, you said "Vista." That was your first mistake.

Your second mistake was trying to do an "update" versus a clean install of Windows 7.

Windows 7, when installed correctly, is a beautiful OS.

derp.

I am very interested. I love Android, but this is what I need at work. Windows 7 is great and all, but the clunky laptop I schlep back and forth to the office daily has issues. The big concern I had about Windows RT is that it cannot be added to a domain. Windows Pro can. This could be a huge deal for businesses.

I am curious to see what Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Asus plan for Windows 8. It would be great if they had some similar prices.

My only worry is that Microsoft will screw this up like Zune. Zune was a great product and I loved it, but it never caught on. Hopefully Microsoft has more Xbox magic that Zune fail.

gee, maybe it's the fact that this single device can become your desktop, your laptop, AND your tablet -- all based on your needs in any given situation, and with a UI that smoothly transitions between touch and traditional modes, as needed.

derp derp.