Microsoft’s Hardware Gambit – The Microsoft Surface Unveiled

Today at an event in Hollywood, Microsoft unveiled Surface: PCs built to be the ultimate stage for Windows. Conceived, designed and engineered entirely by Microsoft employees, it marks the first Microsoft manufactured PC. The two Surface models introduced represents a reference design for the upcoming Windows 8, and offer the potential to actually turn a tablets into fully functioning PCs.

In addition to full-sized USB ports, 16:9 aspect ratio, and a VaporMg magnesium case that creates a finish akin to a luxury watch, a couple of the interesting features of the Surface are:

Integrated Kickstand: The unique VaporMg case also enables a built-in kickstand that lets you transition Surface from active use to passive consumption – watching a movie or even using the HD front- or rear-facing video cameras. The kickstand is there when needed, and disappears when not in use, with no extra weight or thickness.

Touch Cover: The 3 mm Touch Cover represents a step forward in human-computer interface. Using a unique pressure-sensitive technology, Touch Cover senses keystrokes as gestures, enabling you to touch type significantly faster than with an on-screen keyboard. It will be available in a selection of vibrant colors. Touch Cover clicks into Surface via a built-in magnetic connector, forming a natural spine like you find on a book, and works as a protective cover. You can also click in a 5 mm-thin Type Cover that adds moving keys for a more traditional typing feel.

ARM and Intel Editions: Two models of Surface will be available: one running an ARM processor featuring Windows RT, and one with a third-generation Intel Core processor featuring Windows 8 Pro.

Matt Burns at TechCrunch (and iPad user) explains why this device just may be the first true competitor for Apple.

I’m in love with my iPad. I use it everyday, and thanks to the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard, I’m moderately productive on it; I’m still at only 80% capacity, though. I just love the tablet form factor. I’ve hesitated replacing my iPad with a MacBook Air because of the touchscreen apps. I actually enjoy browsing Reddit more on the iPad thanks to Alien Blue. Flipboard brings me a ton of content I normally wouldn’t get. And the cooking apps — oh my, I love me some cooking apps. That said, I still cannot construct and publish a post to TechCrunch on an iPad. But I could on the Surface.

Laptops have dominated the mobile scene for as long as there was a mobile scene. Tablets have yet to prove themselves as serious productivity devices thanks to their limited computing platforms. But this is Windows. With Office. In a tablet. With a stunning keyboard cover. Love it or hate it, Windows and Office know how to get things done.

I’ve got to say that I’m very intrigued by these devices, especially the Intel edition. I too am looking at it not at a laptop replacement, but as a tablet replacement. Here is the first ad for the device.

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