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Microsoft is releasing its very own tablet later this year known as the Surface. According to ABC News the new Microsoft tablet was built with customer criticisms of the iPad in mind. One of the main complaints about the iPad is that it was built for consuming content instead of creating it.
According to Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer, the Surface tablet will still be appropriate for consuming entertainment but “without compromising the productivity that PCs are uniquely known for.”
The first version of the Surface tablet to be released in October of 2012 will be 9.3 millimeters thick with a built in 0.7 millimeters thick kickstand and a three millimeter thick touch keyboard that snaps on to the tablet using magnets. The shell of the tablets is made from vapor-deposited magnesium, also known as VaporMg. Overall the first version of the tablet will only weigh about 1.5 pounds.
A larger version of the Surface will be released three months later and will cost about the same as an Ultrabook (around $700-$800). It will also come with a stylus to leave handwritten notes and have a USB port.
Both tablets will originally only be sold in Microsoft stores and online from Microsoft. The company claims that the prices for the new tablet will be ‘competitive’ with the iPad and Ultrabook.
One feature that the Surface has people talking about is the new rubber keyboard that is also a firmly-locking cover for the tablet. The keyboard will connect to the edges of the tablet and the keys do not depress. The touch keyboard known as a “Touch and Type” is similar in design to the “Smart Cover” from Apple except that the “Touch and Type” comes with the tablet. A slightly thicker keyboard with pushable keys will also be available.
The new tablet will be able to use Skype and Kinect motion-control, technology that was originally used with the Xbox. In the past, Microsoft has seemed to do best with software instead of hardware. Examples of its failed attempts at hardware include the Zune, a Microsoft music player, and the Kin, the Microsoft phone; both of which have been discontinued by Microsoft. This track record has many worried that the Surface tablet will also not be well-received by consumers.
However Microsoft is releasing its newest operating system, Windows 8, at the same time as the Surface tablet; in fact, Windows 8 was designed with tablets in mind. According to ABC, the tablet is essential to the release of the new operating system because Windows 8 was made for it.
Windows 8 is the biggest change of the operating system since the inception of Windows. The new operating system is built with touch screens in mind but is also able to support a mouse and keyboard. According to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, “[Microsoft] believe[s] that any intersection between human and machine can be made better when all aspects of the experience – hardware and software – are considered and working together.” Toshiba, Asus, and Acer are already making Windows 8 PCs and laptops.
According to Business Week, creating this hardware is getting in the way of Windows partners such as Dell, Hewlett Packard, and Acer. Although Microsoft needs to act since, according to Business Week and USA Today, Microsoft has been suffering recently from the popularity of other tablets such as the iPad and the Kindle Fire.
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