Don’t look now, but here comes the Windows Surface tablet

The image above is smartphone photography in its truest form; taken this month at the official Microsoft Store at the Mall of America (across the walkway from the Apple Store), this sign heralds the next big step for the software/hardware giant.  Indeed, the Surface tablet by Microsoft is arriving in stores this Friday, October 26th, 2012.

And if one is asking what the heck is the Surface and why should one be interested, let me elaborate:

The Surface Tablet by Microsoft

Image Courtesy of Microsoft

The Surface tablet is Microsoft’s new investment into the touch screen tablet market.  It comes as a 2lb, 10.6″ 10 point multi-touch HD tablet (larger in both regards than the 1.5lb, 9.7″ screened iPad) with stereo speakers, a few USB ports, a micro SD slot, front and rear facing cameras, a headphone port, and a video display output port.  The tablet is supported by a 22 degree “kickstand” that can flip in and out for maximum viewability.

Image Courtesy of Microsoft

The main keyboard is a pressure sensitive interface that doubles as the protective case for the Surface’s screen, and for an improved typing experience can be upgraded to the hard, mechanical Type Cover. Both keyboards work in hand with the kickstand to efficiently turn on and off the Surface when closed or transported.

The Surface Operating System

Besides the physical attributes, the Surface is being advertised as two different tablets with two distinct operating system options.

Windows RT

The Surface’s first operating system coming out on October 26th is known as Windows RT, which can be considered like a “light” version of Windows 8.  All the iconic Windows Metro tiles are present here (Mail, Sky Drive, Calendar, Facebook, etc); with them installed the homescreen can be modified and tweaked to suit one’s preferences.  Additional applications and tiles can be downloaded by the Windows Store, which also act as the content manager for the Surface.  Windows Defender is also included as a safeguard for one’ personal data.

The RT version also comes initially with Microsoft Office RT Preview, which carries all the common Office products in a non-polished form (with improvements coming through a free upgrade later on).  And yes, all Office programs in the Windows RT system will be touch-friendly.

Windows 8 Pro

Although the Surface is being released with Windows RT, it is Windows 8 that will use it’s functionality to the fullest.  The forthcoming Windows 8 on the Surface acts like Windows 7 in the background, but still has all those pretty Metro tiles on the front end with similar connectivity to social media and the like.

Unlike the Windows RT version, the full Office suite will be available for the Windows 8 Pro Surface, again with emphasis added on the touch capabilities for maximum efficiency.  And because Windows 7 is essentially running in the background in Windows 8, the future Surface tablet will be able to run and install any application that have been compatible with existing Windows systems.  Networking and security will also be expanded beyond Windows Defender with bit-locker disk encryption, remote desktop access, and other IT management features.

The Present Situation

The main differentiation between the Windows RT version of the Surface and the Windows 8 version is quite clear: the RT Surface is currently available for $499 ($699 as the 64GB version) and the Windows 8 Pro version does not even have a release date yet.  But when Windows 8 Pro is released, the improved Surface will boast an i5 Core Processor, 2 extra GB of RAM (4 GB total), and double the battery size for usage well beyond the 8 hours the Windows RT surface can provide.

Presently, the Windows RT version can be pre-ordered from the Microsoft Store, but depending on the release of Windows 8 it may make sense to wait and see if the Surface can really stretch its wings with the added functionality.

  • Geek_News

    damn you I’m not one to suggest grammar and spelling but

    Lite = weight

    Light – illumination
    That entire paragraph and the one that follows is just bad.

    Your entire post just wreaks of some sort of bias towards Apple? Sorry man even as an Apple detractor I’m open and honest enough to not let my bias sway me this much.

    • Evan Wondrasek

      Thanks for taking the time to post a comment. I’m the Editor-in-Chief here at Techerator, so I can take a little time to explain the grammar used in this article.

      According to Merriam-Webster, the word “light”, when used as an adjective, has the following definitions:

      light adjective:

      1. of little weight; not heavy: a light load.
      2. of little weight in proportion to bulk; of low specific gravity: a light metal.
      3. of less than the usual or average weight: light clothing.
      4. weighing less than the proper or standard amount: to be caught using light weights in trade.
      5. of small amount, force, intensity, etc.: light trading on the stock market; a light rain; light sleep.

      The definitions specifically being used in the article’s context are most similar to:

      8. less powerful but usually more mobile than usual for its kind, i.e. “light cavalry”, “a light cruiser”
      9. made with a lower calorie content or with less of some ingredient (as salt, fat, or alcohol) than usual

      Regarding the differences between “lite” and “light, Wikipedia explains:

      Lite is a variant spelling of “light”, a concept of weight

      Ultimately, both “light” and “lite” work in this context. “Lite” is often used to describe products with reduced features from their full version, but there are many examples where “light” is used just the same.

    • Jonathan Paul

      Maybe I’m dense, but how exactly does this article “wreaks of some sort of bias towards Apple”?

  • Sophronis Mantoles

    I do not see any bias towards apple (except maybe the comment about the microsoft store been across from the apple store) which is irrelevant in this case!!

  • zipguy

    24 Oct 2012 by Kevin Ivanca wrote
    “RT Surface is currently available for $499 ($699 as the 64GB version) and the Windows 8 Pro version does not even have a release date yet”
    I’ve got 2 questions
    How much is the cheapest Windows 8 cost on a desktop or, Surface?
    How much is the cheapest Windows 8 Pro cost on a desktop or, Surface?
    Both answers would be interesting (or illuminating).