The company that made Windows a household name is making a play in the tablet market. On June 18 in Los Angeles, Microsoft executives previewed the Surface line: two Windows tablets and accessories that will roll out with the release of Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro.
The Surface devices were conceived, designed and engineered entirely by Microsoft employees, according to the company. CNN reported that Surface is the first commercial PC that Microsoft has directly designed and sold.
Microsoft highlighted several aspects of Surface's design:
- A full-sized USB port.
- 16:9 aspect ratio, the industry standard for high-definition video.
- A metal finish, based on magnesium, that can be molded as thinly as .65 millimeters (thinner that a credit card).
- An integrated kickstand that lets the user choose between active and passive consumption modes.
- A human-computer interface called the Touch Cover, which can sense keystrokes as gestures (enabling faster typing than on an on-screen keyboard); it clicks into Surface via magnetic connector. It also works as a protective cover.
Microsoft said the first version of Surface will be available this fall in 32- and 64-gigabyte versions. It will likely be priced to compete with Apple's iPad, the most basic version of which sells for about $500. The more advanced version will follow three months later in 64- and 128-gigabyte versions, priced at around $1,000.