Where does the new Microsoft Surface fit in? What makes it different from the new iPad? Will you ever need one? These are the questions many people are asking since Microsoft released the new Microsoft Surface tablet. If you are ever in the market for a new laptop, or tablet, then you are in the market that this product is aiming for. Microsoft surprised a lot of people on with a presentation which went pretty well. It introduced a tablet computer that would complement Windows 8.
Androids and Xbox’s
We all know how the Android tablet push went after companies like Asus and Acer got their hands on it, and how well WebOS went down in spectacular fashion thanks to HP. So Microsoft, and rightfully so, decided that nobody will be able to personify Windows 8 in a tablet like they can. We all know how successful the Xbox is, and how awesome Microsoft hardware in general is.
So it went to work. The Surface supplants the UltraBook and tablet with one fell swoop. Powered by either ARM or Intel processors you can get the perfect solution. Just like the iPad killed the Netbook, the Surface killed the Ultrabook.
With features such as full HD displays, USB 3.0, full magnesium case, and dual webcams, this device really makes you think twice before grabbing that new Asus ZenBook Prime. At a mere 9.3mm the Surface is as thin as the new iPad with the power of your next desktop.
Microsoft didn’t divulge on pricing just yet but it’s safe to say that it will start at around US$499 for the 32GB WiFi RT version, and US$999 for the Intel Core i5 64GB version if you take into account what they need to be comparable to.
From the beginning of time Microsoft was the creator of the best keyboards on the planet. No matter who you are you sure as hell enjoy typing on a Microsoft keyboard. The only touch keyboard close to that experience is the Apple iOS keyboard on the iPad.
Using this experience in input devices, it built the coolest accessory that owned Apple’s Smartcover. Not only is it made from the best materials and comes with the cool magnetic connector like the one from Apple, Microsoft blew everyone away by making it a full multitouch keyboard too.
I for one won’t for one second doubt that the typing experience on the new touch cover wouldn’t be amazing.
So, why would you need one? In a very mobile world where almost everyone walks around with an iPad or MacBook Air (or god forbid, both) you need a device that you can be able to do some real work, be ultra-mobile, be sure that if you need to run while working on a Photoshop image that you can just pick up the PC and go. This is what the Surface does.
Samsung released the Series 7 Slate, and Asus released the rather depressing EP121 a few months before that. What these companies failed at was one thing: they were not mobile. I have used both the Series 7 and the EP121 and they were loud, battery life was subpar and using them with Windows 7 was a pain in the back.
I myself own the new iPad and I love using it. The battery life rocks, the display is cool, however apps don’t really try to take advantage of it. But what I need is real multitasking, more than one app visible at one time, Office, USB, and the ability to use the same apps across both my desktop, tablet and phone.
Don’t get me wrong, the iPad is in no real danger in this market at present. The Surface fulfills only that niche product segment of business professionals that need more than an iPhone on steroids. When the Surface lands I will definitely grab one, as will some of the people I know because it fills the gap the iPad just can’t.
Windows Phone 8 maps out the future
Windows Phone 8 was revealed with much fanfare and I was eager to see what Microsoft had in store for us. However as a Windows Phone user I was slightly disappointed that current legacy devices will not be getting the new Windows Phone 8 upgrade. I was however happy that I didn’t jump on the Lumia 900 bandwagon just yet.
We have to understand though that many of the new features on Windows Phone 8 are not supported on current generation hardware like Multicore and NFC, it should have at least pretended that Windows Phone 7.8 was 8 and that would have fooled everyone into believing it was exactly the same experience (almost like the feature differences in different iOS devices).
Regardless, Microsoft was mum on any real feature specifics other than the fact that WP8 will be featuring the new start screen, more colours, Nokia Maps built in, multicore support (up to 64 cores), removable SD, NFC, business features, secure boot and more. What is really cool was that Windows Phone 8 will share the same core as Windows 8. This means that if you write an App for Windows 8, it will run perfectly well on the new WP8 platform. Even full 3D games that need DirectX 11 will perform well.
As a non-gamer (outside of the Xbox) I never seem to see what the fuss is about games on iPads and iPhones. I have a few games on my Windows Phone but never play them because they are boring and lack depth and realism. You can only throw angry birds at pigs so many times before you want to throw yourself off a building… and hopefully hit a pig.
I am extremely excited to see what is possible with gaming on Windows Phone 8 and maybe with added realism and some great titles I might just jump on the mobile gaming bandwagon.
Legacy users who stuck with the platform for a while will get a marginal update called 7.8. It will feature the new start screen amongst other things (hopefully they would fix that nagging Wi-Fi lock screen issue). I will be eagerly clutching to my 1st gen HD7 waiting for the update, however I will definitely grab one of the new WP8 devices shipping this October if the iPhone doesn’t get to me first (let’s hope not).
For all it’s worth I think Apple and Microsoft are in this game together against a common enemy. Both these companies have huge chunks of markets locked down, and trying to carve into each other’s territory won’t work (just try to convince a Apple fan that the Surface is cool).
Google will suffer with Windows 8 coming, OEM’s saw that there is only so much you can do with Android, and Google’s inability to really try to work with them really bit them in the foot. There is no unified experience, no real integration and hardly any updates. Apple leads the way with integration, and Microsoft will now use their huge marketshare and cash balance to make sure that if you use Windows, the experience will be rivaled only by Apple.
Windows Phone 8, Windows 8 and Surface are just one small step towards that dream.
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