It may be more than three years tardy but if this device gets a decent price tag, it could very well spell trouble for Apple.
Check out Microsoft Surface --
Unveiled by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at a Los Angeles event today, Surface is a 10.6-inch slate that blurs the line between a tablet and an ultrabook as it's capable of running both Windows RT - a sort of lite version of Windows 8 - and the full-blown Windows 8 operating system itself.
'Surface' flaunts what Microsoft calls ClearType HD Display technology, which promises to deliver great visual clarity when viewing content both indoors and out. This 16:9 high definition display is protected by super-sturdy, scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass.
Consumer and Pro Versions : Specifications and Pricing
The Windows RT version, which is more the consumer or entry-level variant, is just 9.3mm thin and weighs 676 grams. The slate comes with either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage and the connectivity suite includes a microSD card slot, USB 2.0 - yes, like the ones you can find on your laptop, MicroUSB HD Video Out, and a 2×2 MIMO antennae. Microsoft said that we can expect the tablet to become commercially available around the time when Windows 8 gets launched. No word yet on the exact price but they say it will in line with "its rival offerings". If they're talking about the iPad, that should be around Php 23,990 to Php 39,990.
The Windows 8 Pro version, on the other hand, is much closer to being a full-fledged PC; It's thicker and heavier than Windows RT version at 13.5mm and 903 grams and will come with more built-in memory; 64 and 128GB, to be exact. Its connectivity suite includes microSDXC, a faster USB 3.0 port, Mini Video DisplayPort, and 2×2 MIMO antennae. According to Microsoft, users can expect Pro to hit store shelved around three months after the release of the Windows RT version. As for the price, it should be in line with similarly equipped ultrabooks, which sell for more or less Php 45,000.
Camera, Kickstand, Keyboard Case and VaporMg
Just like its main and toughest competitor - the iPad, Surface has not just one, but two cameras. You can use the front LifeCam to chat with friends while the back-facing LifeCam is handy for shooting photos and recording clips.
Now, Microsoft knows that some activities simply call for an actual keyboard -- like blogging or emailing, among others. Surface comes with a built-in Kickstand and a "revolutionary", 3mm thin, pressure-sensitive Touch Cover that doubles as a keyboard and even has a trackpad!
Touch Cover, which connects to the Surface with a single magnetic click, comes in five vibrant and youthful colors namely Red, Cyan, White, Black, and Magenta. Pick a color that best represents your sense of style!
Surface has stellar software and innards but its shell is just as great. The slate is wrapped in precision crafted VaporMg casing that protects the vital technology inside and leaves a high quality elegant finish and solid feel. According to Microsoft, VaporMg is created by molding metal and depositing particles that creates a finish similar to a luxury watch! Using magnesium, parts can be molded as thin as .65mm, which is even thinner than your regular credit card but a lot stronger. The end result is a 10.6-inch tablet that weighs in at just 32 ounces!
Last month, Forbes Magazine published an article on Five CEOs who should have already been fired. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made it to the top of the list and was even called "the worst CEO of a large publicly traded American company today."
Quoting the publication,
"Not only has [Steve Ballmer] singlehandedly steered Microsoft out of some of the fastest growing and most lucrative tech markets (mobile music, handsets and tablets) but in the process he has sacrificed the growth and profits of not only his company but “ecosystem” companies such as Dell..."
I find that string of words funny, which only means that there's some truth to it. Smartphones and tablets have truly become the trend these days and I find it hard to believe how a giant like Microsoft can leave its biggest competitor - Apple - unchallenged in a relevant category for the longest time. I don't really know what's happening at Microsoft - maybe there's an air of complacency or a lack of sense of urgency - but whatever the case, Apple has clearly made the most out of the situation.
Competition is always good for consumers as it makes way for more options and better products. Looking at images of Surface, studying its specs-sheet, and thinking about Microsoft's long-term plan for mobile computing, I'm inclined to believe that - if priced competitively - this slate can actually offer the iPad some serious competition in the high-end tablet category. I mean, for instance, Surface totally one-upped the Cupertino-company's slate with that Kickstand-Touch Cover combo; The design is plain genius.
Obviously, Surface - even if it sells well upon release - will have a long way to go before it can scrape the heights that the iPad has reached. But what's good is that - with it - Microsoft can finally make a strong and daring entry into Apple territory. It will be a first step and from the looks of it, it will be a good one. Who knows, maybe it can even turn things around for Steve Ballmer - that is, from 'worst' to best CEO - or maybe not.
Well, anyway. I certainly hope Surface does well; Like I said, competition is good for consumers. And it also makes this industry a lot more interesting.