Microsoft Dives Head-First Into Mobile Hardware With Two 10.6-Inch Tablets.
Microsoft is now a full-fledged, no-excuses mobile computing manufacturer that’s Forget about operating systems. Forget about mice, keyboards and snoozy computer accessories. A pair of Windows tablets accompanied by clever keyboard covers that aspire to true innovation in the mobile space On Monday a team of excited executives showed off Microsoft Surface.
“It’s a PC that is a great tablet, and a tablet that is a great PC,” said Steven Sinofsky, President of the Windows and Windows Live Division.
Sounds simple enough, right? No, most decidedly not. Surface is much, much more than a new tablet platform. It’s also Microsoft’s challenge to every hardware partner in its stable.
“Its a bold move on the part of Microsoft,” says Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg. “This is a real change in strategy for them, and it’s certainly a vote of no confidence for their partners. This shows how high the stakes are. There is competitive pressure from Apple that is clearly a threat to their business. Steve Ballmer seemed to be channeling Steve Jobs on stage, saying hardware and software have to be designed to together.”
We covered the new Surface tablets in exacting detail in our live blog of Monday afternoon’s event. But here’s the cheat sheet if you just want the quick, hard facts.
Microsoft Surface comes in two iterations: One running Windows 8 Pro on top of Intel Silicon (an Ivy Bridge chip with yet-to-be-defined specs), and one running Windows RT on top of Nvidia silicon (perhaps the next iteration of Nvidia’s Tegra family — neither nVidia nor Microsoft is currently sharing specifics). The two tablets share a common industrial design language, including bezeled edges angled at 22 degrees, and physical chassis made of “VaporMG,” a fancy-schmancy new material that aims for a tactile finish worthy of a high-end, luxury watch.
“When you put it in your hands, it feels elegant,” said Panos Panay, the general manager of the newly announced Surface division. “When you touch it, you’re going to want to hold it, I promise you.” VaporMG can be molded down to a thickness of 0.65mm — thinner than a credit card and comparable to a hotel room key, as Panay demonstrated at the event.