Microsoft Surface Windows 8/RT tablets unveiled: specs, features, release date and pricing

Microsoft on Monday unveiled its first tablets ever, a Windows 8 and a Windows RT machine that are both going to be known henceforward as Microsoft Surface. The name seems awfully familiar not only because an earlier report suggested the product will be called Xbox Surface, but also because the company has coined the “Surface” term long ago, although at the time it described a touch-based product that was about the same size of a tablet.
We have recently wondered what operating system the new Microsoft tablet will run, as some sources suggested the device may not be a Windows RT / Windows 8 product since it’s too early in the game to unveil such a device – Windows 8 is expected to become official at some point this fall, with the first Windows 8 tablets manufactured by third party OEMs to hit stores by Christmas or thereafter. But Microsoft made it clear from the start of the media event, the Surface is a Windows-based product.

Surface appears to be a new flagship device for Mircrosoft, a company best known for its software dominance in the PC operating system business, but also for its console gaming hardware such as the popular Xbox and the Kinect. But more importantly, the Surface is Microsoft’s own Nexus-like device, a tablet meant to show the world, and Microsoft’s Windows 8 PC-making partners, how Windows on a tablet should look and feel like.
Surface also appears to be a high-end tablet meant to compete directly against the iPad and the most important Android tablets out there from various manufacturers, unlike the Google Nexus 7 that’s supposed to be a very affordable device meant to take on directly the unexpectedly popular (at least for Google and its Android tablet-making partners) Amazon Kindle Fire.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the main characteristics of the device, its release dates and pricing.

Specs and Features

Here are the main specs and features of the two Surface kinds, Surface for Windows RT and Surface for Windows 8 Pro:

Surface for Windows RT

  • OS: Windows RT
  • Light: 676 g
  • Thin: 9.3 mm
  • Clear: 10.6-inch ClearType HD Display with 16:9 aspect ratio. Corning Gorilla Glass 2 technology also included.
  • Processor: ARM-based by NVIDIA
  • Energized: 31.5 W-h battery
  • Connected: microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD Video, 2×2 MIMO antennae
  • Productive: Office ‘15’ Apps, Touch Cover, Type Cover
  • Practical: VaporMg Case & Stand, edges angled at 22 degrees
  • Configurable: 32 GB, 64 GB

Surface for Windows 8 Pro

  • OS: Windows 8 Pro
  • Light: 903 g
  • Thin: 13.5 mm
  • Clear: 10.6-inch ClearType HD Display with 16:9 aspect ratio. Corning Gorilla Glass 2 technology also included.
  • Processor: Intel Core Ivy Bridge
  • Energized: 42 W-h battery
  • Connected: microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort Video, 2×2 MIMO antennae
  • Productive: Touch Cover, Type Cover, Pen with Palm Block
  • Practical: VaporMg Case & Stand, edges angled at 22 degrees
  • Configurable: 64 GB, 128 GB



  • Built-in stand – 0.7mm thick (comes with any Surface)
  • Surface Touch Cover – 0.3 mm thick full multitouch keyboard dock that also acts as a magnetic cover, with trackpad included
  • Surface Type Cover – similar to Touch Cover but slightly bigger at 0.5mm, it’s a keyboard with actual keys and trackpad buttons
  • Pen with Palm Book – a pen that magnetizes to the body of the Surface to offer digital ink support
Microsoft’s execs demoed the product on stage emphasizing its most important features and the design challenges they had to go through to produce this tablet. The device looks, at least on paper, and in the images and video the company showed, like a worthy iPad rival, and certainly a tablet that could become a tough Android tablet competitor in the months to come. But on the other hand, and most importantly, the Surface may become a Windows RT / Windows 8 tablet competitor and therefore cannibalize on sales from Windows partners, something that may not necessarily suit the needs of the company.
Unlike Windows Phones, which are yet to become a worthy third player in the smartphone business, Windows 8 may become a lot more popular as a tablet OS. The only thing we don’t know at this point is how reliable the new software will be on tablets, and wether users will enjoy a Metro UI-based Windows 8 tablet as much as they appreciate other tablet designs.

Release Date and Pricing

The Surface, while interesting enough for tablet fans, will not be available in stores for quite a while now. The company revealed that it took a lot of time to design it –  we kind of appreciate the fact that the device was not leaked in the past months – and it will take a lot of time to see it in stores. Unfortunately Microsoft is not ready yet to share actual launch details and pricing details for the Surface at this time, but the execs mentioned more than once the fact that the device will be priced quite competitively, or better said, the two Surface versions, ARM-based and Intel-based, will each come with competitive prices compared to their direct rivals.
The ARM model is said “to be competitive with a comparable ARM tablet” and it will be available in store at the same time Windows 8 launches. The Intel model will be a bit more expensive with a price comparable to Ultrabook-class PCs, which are generally more expensive than traditional laptops. The Intel model will also be available only later down the road, around 90 days after the ARM-based Surface hits stores. If I’m reading correctly between the lines the Windows RT will be the really affordable version, but then again if you want Office 15 and other perks the Windows 8 Pro model will offer then you’ll have to be ready to shell out more dollars for it.
With that in mind, it’s probably safe to say that this winter we’ll have quite a lot of tablets fighting for the cash of the consumer including the iPad, the iPad mini (if certain rumors are to be believed), the Google Nexus 7, the Amazon Kindle Fires (more than one model, again if certain rumors are to be believed), various flagship Android tablets from important Android makers, the Microsoft Surface models, and various other Windows-based tablets coming from other OEMs.

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