So, the Microsoft announcement – taking place as I write this, 01:45 in my timezone – turns out to be a bigger deal than expected. Microsoft just announced it’s going full-on hardware – the company announced a new tablet called ‘Surface’, and boy, is this thing something to behold. Microsoft’s hardware partners? They’re not happy right now. Update: Here’s Microsoft’s official Surface site. I believe someone coined the phrase ‘sexy as a succubus‘ in the comments about Vizio? Stealin’ it! Update II: They aren’t just taking the iPad head-on – this is a straight-up MacBook Air competitor.
Microsoft Surface is a tablet built out of PVD magnesium, with a 10.6″ Gorilla Glass display. It’s pretty thin (9.3mm), looks downright gorgeous, and has ‘want’ written all over it. There’s an ARM Windows 8 RT version, and, for those of us interested in the existing software base, there’s also a thicker Intel version, as powerful as any recently announced ultrabook. The Intel version will also have higher storage capacities, and digital ink and stylus support. Basically, ARM is Home, Intel is Pro.
Then there’s the Touch Cover. Similar to Apple’s cover, complete with magnetic latch (aren’t patent sharing agreements a wonderful thing?), but at the same time, in a whole different league: it’s just 3mm thick, but, get this, it has a full multitouch keyboard and trackpad built right into the soft material. In addition, there’s a more rigid cover that has a tactile keyboard – slightly thicker of course (5mm), but still pretty damn thin.
Pricing and availability are unknown as of yet – ugh. Alas.
This is a pretty big deal. Not only because it looks like an incredibly fine product, but also because Microsoft just made all its OEMs into potential enemies. This is a big slap in the face of Microsoft’s OEMs, basically telling them they’re not good enough. OEMs have no choice but to take it like a man, though, since they have little choice in the matter.
I have to hand it to Microsoft. They delivered on the hype, and if The Verge’s live stream is to be believed, there was lots of cheering and even hooting by press members during the event. I’m looking forward to the first hands on reports coming in any minute now.