Microsoft Surface – Redmond’s big entry into the competitive tablet market

The New Microsoft tablet platform, named “Surface” is starting to make appearances on the internet. Microsoft contracted with a hardware to come up with an entirely new tablet platform to showcase it’s upcoming tablet operating system, Windows RT.

The specs are fairly decent – 10.6 inch Cleartype HD 16:9 aspect-ratio HD screen with Gorill Glass 2, magnesium body (termed VaporMg) and weighing in at just under 1.3 lbs., an NVIDIA ARM chip, HDMI, microSD and USB 2.0 ports, 32 or 64 gigs of internal storage, dual WiFi antenas (sorry no 3G/4G at launch) and a built in kick-stand. Also unique to this device is the Touch Cover – a pressure sensitive keyboard with full gesturing capabilities full that attaches to the Surface via a magnetic connector and doubles as a cover, available in different colors.

For those wanting more power, Surface for Windows 8 Pro will also be made available (although not on initial launch – you’ll have to wait about 3 months longer). This “turbo-charged” Surface will be more akin to a true laptop or Ultrabook, sporting an Intel Core i5 processor, a FULL HD screen (1080p), USB 3.0, Windows 8 Pro, and 64/128gb storage options. It also weighs 20% more and is almost 50% thicker.

So what’s the difference between Windows RT and Windows 8 Pro on a tablet?

Well, quite a bit. Windows RT is designed for the ARM processor. Regular Windows apps will NOT run on an RT device. Apps need to be ported over to Windows Metro – the tile-centric UI platform Microsoft introduced last year for Windows Mobile. The advantage is that the ARM process will conserve battery life, and allows the device to be thinner and lighter. But if you have a Surface Pro, you should be able to run any Windows 8 app that runs on a desktop. The penalty is in weight and battery life. Never mind the higher cost (which is yet to be announced).

Microsoft promises an excellent user experience in an attempt to make RT function as an extension of the Windows 8 desktop, rather than something complete different. But what this platform already has against it is the tension that may be created between Microsoft and their existing OEM partners such as Acer, HP, Toshiba and Samsung. These companies all make laptops and other portable devices using Microsoft operating systems, and have rarely, if ever, had to c0mpete with them on a hardware level.

Microsoft is taking clear aim at Apple with this new platform. Let’s see if it is a home run for Microsoft, and propels Windows 8 into the mobile arena.

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