Home » Cloud client SW platforms » Giving up the total OEM reliance strategy: the Microsoft Surface tablet

Giving up the total OEM reliance strategy: the Microsoft Surface tablet

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Follow ups:
Microsoft Surface: its premium quality/price vs. even iPad3 [Oct 26, 2012]
Microsoft Surface: First media reflections after the New-York press launch [Oct 26, 2012]

Updates #2: As the result of this sudden turn of direction 9 months ago, the previously closely cooperating with Microsoft OEMs are now (March’13) working with the company in the most cautious way:

Brand vendors cautious about Microsoft when it comes to hardware design [DIGITIMES, March 25, 2013]

Notebook brand vendors have turned cautious about revealing their new products’ industrial designs for next-generation Windows as they are concerned that Microsoft may use their designs for the benefit of its new Surface products, according to sources from the upstream supply chain.

The sources noted that the brand vendors have already lost their trust in Microsoft and the software giant’s strategy of pushing Surface tablets is starting to impact itself.

Although Microsoft only had sales of about 1.5 million Surface tablets so far, the company continues to expand into the retail channel with its branded products and has even established an online store for ordering the devices.

To avoid from design leakage, many brand vendors have hidden their important designs and will only showcase the prototype of the new mobile devices during Computex 2013 to minimize the risk.

China market: Microsoft to launch Surface Pro, say Taiwan makers [DIGITIMES, March 29, 2013]

Microsoft, following the launch of the10.6-inch Surface RT in the China market, will launch the 10.6-inch Windows 8 Surface Pro there on April 2 at a retail price of CNY6,500 (US$1,045) for the 64GB version and CNY7,300 for 128GB, according to sources with Taiwan’s supply chain.

Surface RT is priced at CNY3,688-4,488 plus CNY800 for a touch cover, the source indicated.

According to previous estimation by market observers, Surface RT and Surface Pro shipments to the global market would have reached one million units and 500,000 units respectively so far since their launch, but the actual volume for the two models so far is estimated at about one million units in total, the sources said.

Viewing that Microsoft has not placed additional orders for Surface RT, an estimated one million units of Surface RT remain in the inventory, the sources indicated.

Microsoft has talked with partners about developing second-generation Surface models, but those partners have generally been conservative, the sources noted, adding that Microsoft is inviting notebook and chip vendors to co-develop tablets based on Windows-ARM platform but those vendors have been reluctant.

Updates #1:

Microsoft Surface : Assembly in China [NIDA ISM YouTube channel, June 23, 2012]

Annual Report for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2012 [Microsoft Corporation, July 19, 2012]

ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS [p. 14]… our Surface devices will compete with products made by our OEM partners, which may affect their commitment to our platform. …

Microsoft’s radical new business plan is hidden in plain sight [ on ZDNet, July 30, 2012]

Microsoft is reimagining its entire business model, and they’ve laid out the details for anyone to inspect. You just have to read between the boilerplate sections in the company’s most recent 10-K.

In the Sinofsky regime, Microsoft isn’t interested in hobbies or side projects. The company’s motto is “Go big or go home.” Earn a billion dollars. Get a billion users. Don’t think small.

I expect a massive marketing push behind Surface, and I would be shocked if we don’t see more PC hardware from Microsoft in the next 12 months.

Deal with it, OEMs.

Microsoft plans to pick up the pace. Dramatically.

Microsoft has a reputation for being too slow to respond. This year’s 10-K contains a new section that suggests that’s all about to change:

Many of the areas in which we compete evolve rapidly with changing and disruptive technologies, shifting user needs, and frequent introductions of new products and services. Our ability to remain competitive depends on our success in making innovative products that appeal to businesses and consumers. [emphasis added]

Microsoft unveils Windows 8 OEM licensing charges [DIGITIMES, July 11, 2012]

Microsoft has released licensing rates for OEM Windows 8, including US$60-80 for Windows 8, US$80-100 for Windows 8 Pro (with Office) and US$50-65 for Windows RT (with Office), according to Taiwan-based notebook supply chain makers.

Microsoft also confirmed the launch schedule of Windows 8 at the end of October with the RTM version of Windows 8 to be released in the first week of August for testing.

Sources from notebook players pointed out that the supply chain is placing high hopes on Windows 8 and expect the operating system to help resurrect consumer demand for traditional notebooks; however, due to remaining uncertainties, most players are still taking a conservative attitude about the launch.

Sources also noted that Windows 8 is unlikely to help significantly boost PC demand before 2013 since the new operating system will increase hardware costs due to some components needing to feature additional functions such as touchscreens to allow the operating system to perform fully, while the addition of the operating system’s licensing costs, the increasing expenses are expected to boost Windows 8-based products’ end prices to a rather unfriendly level.

However, as the notebook supply chain will gradually shift their production to touchscreen models with costs to start to see drops, the sources expect demand for Windows 8-based products will see an obvious increase starting mid-second quarter 2013.

Steve Ballmer, Jon Roskill, Kurt DelBene, and Tami Reller: Worldwide Partner Conference 2012 Day 1 Keynote [Microsoft, July 9, 2012]

Steve Ballmer: …

… there’s over 1.3 billion Windows systems on the planet. We’ve sold over 630 million Windows 7 licenses. … In the next 12 months, most forecasts would be for 375 million — 375 million new Windows PCs to be sold. That’s bigger than any phone or any other single device ecosystem. It is a stunning number. And all of those represent new opportunities as they move to Windows 8.  …

But Surface is just a design point. It will have a distinct place in what’s a broad Windows ecosystem. And the importance of the thousands of partners that we have that design and produce Windows computers will not diminish. We have a mutual goal with our OEM partners to bring a diversity of solutions, Windows PCs, phones, tablets, servers, to market. And what we seek to have is a spectrum of stunning devices, stunning Windows devices. So, every consumer, every business customer can say, “I have the perfect PC for me.”

And we’re excited about the work from our OEMs. We may sell a few million, I don’t know how many, of the 375 million, but we need partners to have that diversity of devices. We’re excited about the work our OEM partners are doing on Windows 8, and we’d really like to show more of that today to you and everybody collected here, Rich.  …

Tami Reller, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, Windows and Windows Live Division: …

Today, as we sit here, more than 50 percent of enterprise desktops are running Windows 7. …

Windows 8 is on track to RTM, or release to manufacturing, the first week of August. (Applause.) And Windows 8 will reach general availability at the end of October. (Applause.)

General availability means that new Windows 8 PCs will be available to buy and upgrades will also be available starting late October. …

Microsoft OEM head change related to Surface, say Taiwan makers [DIGITIMES, July 4, 2012]

Microsoft has announced the replacement of Steven Guggenheimer with Nick Parker, originally vice president of OEM Sales and Marketing, for the position of corporate vice president for OEM Division. The personnel shuffle is related to Microsoft’s plans to launch Surface tablet PCs, representing Microsoft’s long-term business model of stepping into hardware, Taiwan-based supply chain makers have guessed.

The personnel change has caused worries among Taiwan-based PC vendors and ODMs, because it signals that Microsoft’s launch of Surface is not a short-term promotion for Windows 8 but marks a new “software + hardware” business model which is expected to bring troubles for hardware partners, the sources analyzed.

As Microsoft will step into the hardware business, it is naturally no longer concerned about the long-term close relations established by Guggenheimer with hardware partners and therefore has decided to change his position, the sources claimed.

Microsoft Surface chassis suffers low yields [DIGITIMES, July 9, 2012]

Microsoft reportedly planned to adopt unibody magnesium-aluminum chassis for its Surface tablet PCs originally, but affected by chassis makers’ limited capacity, the company has instead turned to adopt a magnesium chassis and use MegVapor technology for surface treatment to allow the device to feature a similar exterior to traditional metal chassis; however, due to the method having a rather low yield rate, is has greatly affected Microsoft in trying to mass produce its new tablet PCs, according to sources from the upstream supply chain.

Microsoft has not confirmed the rumors.

The sources pointed out that before Microsoft launched Surface, the company has inquired at several metal chassis makers about their available capacity and revealed to these makers that its orders for Surface tablet PCs will go as high as five million units before the end of 2012; however, the chassis makers were forced to give up because of lack of capacity.

Although Microsoft’s current chassis design for Surface allows the device to feature a similar exterior and sturdiness as traditional magnesium-aluminum, while having several color choices, the drawback of the design is that the device will be heavier.

The sources also pointed out that the chassis is supplied by a China-based supplier, but since the company is a second-tier maker, its low yield rates are causing Microsoft to pay a lot of attention to the supplier’s manufacturing process hoping for improvements.

Samsung Said To Plan Windows RT Tablet For October Debut [Bloomberg, July 7, 2012]

… The decision to support Windows RT follows Samsung’s earlier announcement that it will back another version of Windows. … Samsung’s Windows RT tablet will feature Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM)’s Snapdragon processor …

Apple led the tablet market at the end of the first quarter, with 11.8 million units shipped, or a 58 percent share, according researcher IHS ISuppli Inc. Samsung was second, with 11 percent, followed by Amazon.com Inc., which had 5.8 percent. …

HP, Dell to launch 10.1-inch Windows RT tablet PCs in 4Q12 [DIGITIMES, July 6, 2012]

Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Dell will launch 10.1-inch Windows RT tablet PCs equipped with processors developed by Texas Instruments and Qualcomm respectively in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to supply chain makers.

In addition to the two US-based brand vendors, Lenovo, Toshiba and Asustek Computer are all preparing to release Windows RT-based tablet PCs.

Meanwhile, although Acer is preparing to release Windows 8-based tablet PCs, the company currently has no plans to launch Windows RT-based models in 2012, while Sony and Samsung Electronics are turning conservative about developing Windows RT-based tablet PCs, according to the two firms’ current component supply status.

The sources pointed out that both Windows 8- and Windows RT-based tablet PCs are expected to be priced starting from US$599 and could go as high as US$1,000, while the machines’ major competition will be Apple; however, the sources hope the tablet PC competition will no longer revolve around price and instead attract demand from enterprise users and consumers that are used to the Windows operating system and its strong software compatibility.

End of updates

Surface by Microsoft [surface YouTube channel, June 19, 2012]

[Microsoft:] A tablet that’s a unique expression of entertainment and creativity. A tablet that works and plays the way you want. A new type of computing. Surface.

#1 excerpt:
Microsoft Announces Surface: New Family of PCs for Windows [Microsoft press release, June 18, 2012]

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. From the fast and fluid interface, to the ease of connecting you to the people, information and apps that users care about most, Surface will be a premium way to experience all that Windows has to offer. Surface for Windows RT will release with the general availability of Windows 8, and the Windows 8 Pro model will be available about 90 days later. Both will be sold in the Microsoft Store locations in the U.S. and available through select online Microsoft Stores.

Contributing to an Expanded Ecosystem

One of the strengths of Windows is its extensive ecosystem of software and hardware partners, delivering selection and choice that makes a customer’s Windows experience uniquely their own. This continues with Surface. Microsoft is delivering a unique contribution to an already strong and growing ecosystemof functional and stylish devices delivered by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to bring the experience of Windows to consumers and businesses around the globe.

Suggested retail pricing will be announced closer to availability and is expected to be competitive with a comparable ARM tablet or Intel Ultrabook-class PC. OEMs will have cost and feature parity on Windows 8 and Windows RT.

Microsoft’s  unique contribution to an already strong and growing ecosystem is well demonstrated by the following images provided by Microsoft (the accompanying text was also provided by Microsoft):

Conceived, designed and engineered entirely by Microsoft employees, and building on the company’s 30-year history manufacturing hardware, Surface is designed to seamlessly transition between consumption and creation, without compromise.Surface: A New Family of PCs for Windows
Surface features a built-in kickstand that lets you transition Surface from active use to passive consumption.Surface: Integrated Kickstand
The 3 mm Touch Cover represents a step forward in human-computer interface. Using a unique pressure-sensitive technology, the 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.

Surface: Touch Cover

#2 excerpt:
Microsoft Announces Surface: New Family of PCs for Windows [Microsoft press release, June 18, 2012] (data higlights are mine to denote the essential differences)

  Surface for Windows RT Surface for Windows 8 Pro
OS: Windows RT Windows 8 Pro
Light(1): 676 g 903 g
Thin(2): 9.3 mm 13.5 mm
Clear: 10.6” ClearType HD Display 10.6” ClearType Full HD Display
Energized: 31.5 W-h 42 W-h
Connected: microSD,USB 2.0, Micro HD Video, 2×2 MIMO antennae microSDXC,USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort Video, 2×2 MIMO antennae
Productive: Office ‘15’ Apps, Touch Cover, Type Cover Touch Cover, Type Cover, Pen with Palm Block
Practical: VaporMg Case & Stand VaporMg Case & Stand
Configurable: 32 GB, 64 GB 64 GB, 128 GB

(1), (2). Actual size and weight of the device may vary due to configuration and manufacturing process.

The product introduction/overview part of the event keynote:

Steven Sinofsky 
[President, Windows and Windows Live Division]
Today when you have your tablet, you want to be entertained, you have to hold it. You’re always sitting in an awkward position or perhaps you have to choose from a seemingly endless variety of add on stands and cases that solve a relatively simple problem but by adding weight, adding fitness.
What if I just want to watch movie or listen to music and do something else. We think that this should be an integral part of the design. We think that a stand should be integral. So we built a stand into the device.
This stand is made of the same VaporMg as the rest of the case. And it’s completely integrated into the device. The hinge design is like that of the finest luxury car and when not in use it just fades away. No extra weight, no extra thickness, no separate add on. It’s integrated just like the software and the hardware integrated into Surface.
And then once you have this kickstand you can sit back and enjoy a truly hands free experience. You could go and just put the Surface on a table, lay back and watch a movie. And that’s really what entertainment should be about with the Surface. But you know Surface is designed to be mobile. We designed Surface to be rugged and move around but with VaporMg and Corning Gorilla Glass 2.0 you do not need to worry at all, but we know many people preferred to have some sort of cover. A cover that helps to just act like an easy on/off switch at least.
So Surface has a cover. We designed the cover to be an integral element of the PC. We built a magnetic connector into the device to hold it very securely.
So let me attach the cover, click — you heard that it’s solid — click, close the cover it’s integrated into the device. It’s made from a fine northwest pola? tech. Feels great in your hand like a book, it just fits there. And when we looked at the whole Surface on the cover, we challenged ourselves to do more. This cover is just 3 mm. Combined with Surface they are just over 12 millimeters that’s less than 0.5 inch. And we said why not do something with this Surface. Why shouldn’t we just take this Surface and make it a full multi touch keyboard.
This Touch Cover is not just a full multi touch keyboard, but it’s a modern track pad with left and right buttons. It even has the keys for the Windows 8 Metro Style UI. This keyboard combined with the kickstand form the hallmark of just hands on creativity. On average typing is twice as efficient as typing on glass. And it’s certainly more comfortable. Now of course the innovative on screen keyboard in Windows is still there and you can mix and match. The choice is really going to be yours. Just put them on the table and you’ve got a great stand.
Let me go over here and show you a different Surface. This Surface is connected to external HDMI. That’s built into the device. I’m going to go here and now I’ve got the Touch Cover connected. Now with front and rear facing cameras on this device, I can record videos. I’m going to start the camera application. So now I can go here and I could tilt this around and angle it, so I could see it. This camera is angled at 22 degrees, but angling at 22 degrees everybody at the table their head is perfectly framed into the picture or when I’m sitting at the seat, I can do a Skype call and I am perfectly framed. But this device also has Windows on it or Office on it. So I go into the desktop and I see here is Word running.
Now what is really neat, as I could also have using the multitasking capabilities I could dark the camera out there and now I can record a video or a interview and take notes, I could record my self and read from my notes. And that integration is really cool, in fact I could even use the USB port and plug in an external speaker and microphone even though it has dual array mics and dual speakers built in, and I could get super high quality recording. And so that’s a quick look at Surface.
Now there is so much more to show you today. Now imagine if you will that we took all of those capabilities of Surface and we build them so that you could use all the applications that you’re familiar with. You could use Photoshop or you could use other applications. Those applications would be built using the latest of the Intel Core Processor. Now that in addition to the Surface that we’re releasing today for Windows RT, we also have a Surface that’s designed with these latest Intel processors. So, in addition to working on the NVIDIA ARM processor we’re also working with on a Surface for Windows 8 Professional. I would like to introduce Mike Angiulo now, who’s going to come up on stage and show us a little bit of the next generation of Surface.
Mike Angiulo
[corporate vice president of Windows Planning, Hardware and PC Ecosystem]
Thank you very much Steven. I’m proud to introduce you to another member of the Surface family. This is Surface for Windows 8 Pro. The Windows ecosystem has always been about choice. And for the millions of professional desktop users out there, people who use their PC everyday to design and to create things, this is a great choice for you. It shares the same design principles that Steven was talking about. It’s a stage for Windows. It shows the same pride in craftsmanship. It’s less than 2 pounds and less than 14 millimeters, it’s a full PC.
Now this also has a ClearType display. Steven’s PC had a ClearType HD. This is a ClearType full HD display, and what that means is three things. It’s a combination of a very specific pixel geometry, rendering and an optical bonding process that together create the effect that your eye can’t distinguish between the individual pixels at normal viewing distances, in this case 17 inches, less than ARMs length.
This ClearType display also reduces Z-height [alternate term for X-height] and conserves battery power. It has some of the other high performance features you saw too. It’s got that 2×2 antenna technology. This is the first in tablets. It has dual high performance antennas and receivers so that you get the best Wi-Fi performance possible no matter how you hold it. It also has a chassis that’s build out of that same durable and elegant VaporMg that enables features like the 0.7 millimeter thin kick stand less than a millimeter. It’s got the same compatible accessory spine that Steven had, so if you take a Touch Cover like he had, it just clicks in, it clicks in the same. It has that same design and feeling because the entire Surface family of products was designed together. Even close like this, this is still less than 17 millimeters, this PC has specs that rival those of the finest Ultrabooks that have ever been announced. And it delivers the power and the flexibility that you would expect of a high end PC. This PC is powered by Intel’s third generation Core i5 processor, the Ivy Bridge processor.
This is their 22 nanometer process that results in a CPU that’s faster, a GPU that has double the 3D graphics throughput, all while using less power than today’s Core i5s. With that power comes a unique design challenge, how do you design a PC that you might be holding in any different way or have a cover in the front and the back to integrate active cooling. There is no obvious place to put a vent, so here is our solution. This is called perimeter venting. You see this groove that goes all the way around the outside of the case. There is a good shot of it up on the screen. This allows air to be uniformly distributed across the entire PC when necessary in a way, that you never block it with your hands. In fact you never even feel it, which makes the PC really comfortable to hold which is really helpful in doing things like flipping back your keyboard and taking notes with digital ink.
Surface for Windows 8 Pro supports digital inking. Windows apps of all kinds can support inking. So here what I’ve done is, I can go back for the desktop and show you what I launched. I launched the Windows Reader and this is a PDF file of one of Steven’s blog posts. So you could see I can pan and zoom. What I can really do here is I can come and I could do ink. I’m going to come and say this is great.
Now what you’ll notice when I ink and I zoom in, as I zoom in that ink stay smooth. That’s because it’s being sampled at 600 GPI, that sub-pixel accuracy for ink. What that does is that keeps your hand writing very smooth and hopefully yours is a little better than mine.
One of the neat things about this too is, as I’m inking from here I can see the tip of the pen almost feels like it’s writing exactly on the screen. Since this screen is optically bonded, we eliminated the layers in between the thin covered glass in the screen. So it feels like you’re inking write on the page. The distance between the stylus and where I see the ink is only 0.7 millimeters. That’s the thinnest and closest distance of any tablet PC, any inking tablet ever.
Now one of the other things that’s going on here is as I am moving my hand, you see the page is not moving underneath my hand. That’s because Windows has palm block technology. This Surface has two digitizers. It has one for touch and a separate one for digital ink.
And what happens is as when I bring the pen close to the screen, Windows sees the proximity of the pen, and stops taking touch input. So my hand doesn’t mess up what I’m waiting. And when I’m done with the pen, you can see the little magnetic charging connector there. It just clicks in. So that’s one of the cool things on Surface for Windows 8 Pro and inking.
The apps that I’d be showing you, they look really great in the native resolution of the screen, the 1080 resolution. But if you want to unlock the highest possible resolutions that Ivy Bridge supports. Even higher resolutions that are possible on via HDMI out. We have DisplayPort. So now with DisplayPort, I can take this PC. I can docket and I basically have a full professional workstation with the power of a desktop PC.
I have one here that’s plugged in and synced up to the show monitor and this kind of a PC is powerful enough to run big applications. Applications like Photoshop, Autodesks, Solidworks, enterprise applications that require a TPM [Trusted Platform Module] chip. In this case, I’m going to copy some higher res photos on to the PC and edit them in Adobe’s Lightroom. So on copying on to the desktop and what you’ll see here, this is the five-second copy. That’s a whole gigabyte. That’s a whole gigabyte of pictures. They just copied in five seconds.
Surface has support for really fast USB 3.0 and the new USB SuperSpeed drives, a gigabyte file copy in five seconds is five times faster than USB 2.0, which makes sense with this PC because they will be using it to do big jobs whether you’re editing big photos like this, and – or you’re dealing with big video files or you’re doing in Steven’s case a big job might be typing a super-long blog-post that you may have read. Surface is up for the tasks.
Now let’s say you are in fact doing one of those big typing jobs. You’ve seen already, Steven talked a little bit about Touch Cover and the improvements it makes for typing. Let’s say you’re really fast touch typist or maybe you just prefer the feel of tactile keys.
Well, we’ve got another Surface choice for you. This is Surface Type Cover. It shares the same full-pitch layout as Touch Cover. But what we’ve done is we’ve taken a key switch that has a 1.5-millimeter travel and we built it into the thinnest possible package. So you can touch type – I can touch type on this as fast as I can touch type on any keyboard. Fully compatible with Windows; you see the shortcut keys here. It has a full modern trackpad with clicking buttons and this completes the Surface family of products. I’d like to pull all the Surface family together, all at one point.
Panos, would you join us with the colors of Touch Cover Surface for Windows RT, Surface for Windows 8 Pro and a handful of the Touch Cover colors that we’re going to have it launched. That’s the complete Surface family.
Thanks Steven. Now that’s how we feel to in Panos especially, Panos Panay is the leader of the team that created Surface and has some great stories in some more detail about the product and how it came to be. It’s all yours.
Panos Panay
[General Manager, Microsoft Surface] Thank you.
Super cool – super cool. Thank you. Thank you for having me. I’m unbelievably humbled right now and flattered to be up here. But truthfully I’m recognizing an entire team that’s back in Redmond right now waiting to see your blog posts, to see what you have to say. We have a team full of designers, development engineers, manufacturing engineers, hardware testers, all working on these products right now as we speak.
Before I get into what I’m going to talk about today, I’m just going to show you a little [bit more about the design,] …

#3 excerpt:
Microsoft Announces Surface: New Family of PCs for Windows [Microsoft press release, June 18, 2012]: the 1st image was provided ny Microsoft, the next two are from the Microsoft provided video record

Advances in Industrial Design

Conceived, designed and engineered entirely by Microsoft employees, and building on the company’s 30-year history manufacturing hardware, Surface represents a unique vision for the seamless expression of entertainment and creativity. Extensive investment in industrial design and real user experience includes the following highlights:

  • Software takes center stage: Surface sports a full-sized USB port and a 16:9 aspect ratio – the industry standard for HD. It has edges angled at 22 degrees, a natural position for the PC at rest or in active use, letting the hardware fade into the background and the software stand out.
  • VaporMg: The casing of Surface is created using a unique approach called VaporMg (pronounced Vapor-Mag), a combination of material selection and process to mold metal and deposit particles that creates a finish akin to a luxury watch. Starting with magnesium, parts can be molded as thin as .65 mm, thinner than the typical credit card, to create a product that is thin, light and rigid/strong.
  • Integrated Kickstand: The unique VaporMg approach 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.

The product design part of the event keynote:

Panos Panay
[General Manager, Microsoft Surface]
… [I’m just going to] show you a little bit more about the design, show you a little bit more about the culture of how these products were build. So I think it might be interesting for you to hear that. I really want to share with you more of our team. So just watch this video really quick and I’ll be right back.
[Video Playback]
You’re going to get to meet a lot of the people you just saw on the video in just a few minutes. They’re actually backstage right now, preparing to show you more details of the product and give you a few minutes to put your hands on it, talk a little bit about the design.
Let me start by doing that to just give you a quick preview of what you might see backstage in just a few minutes. You’ve heard Steven and Mike both said this was build as the stage for Windows 8. That was part of our core vision for the product. It is very important for us that we had the hardware fade to the background for this product. It was important, so the Windows software could rise to the Surface. It gives you the best experience possible. When the hardware fades away and what comes to the Surface is that entertainment PC one when you’re using the device. Note the chamfered angles on the side of this product either chamfered at 22 degrees. That’s two things. One, it’s a physical manifestation of the actual stage itself. You can see as it falls away, just as we intended for the hardware to do. But two, it actually sits perfectly comfortable in your hands.
And let me call it by something. I’d say perfectly a lot. I’d say perfect a lot. As part of our team culture, what was really important for us as we had so many parts of the design that had to be in detail and be simple and be right that we always tried for perfection on every sub-component of this product, it includes this chamfered angle.
What it does is, it sits in your hand very comfortably, in a way that when you hold it, it feels like, it’s feels airy. Most importantly, you can use it all day in comfort. It’s really important when you talk about the hardware fading to the background that the hardware is not in your way to accomplish what you want to do. It’s meant to move you forward, which you think this product does.
Now when we talk about hardware fading to that back, another thing that’s super important is a seamless lines throughout the product. When you look at this product, you’ll see lines going throughout it, every line calculated, every line built, formed perfectly on the device.
But there is one challenge. Our vision for the product beyond being a stage for Windows was also that we had to bring creativity and productivity to folks such as yourselves.
The opportunity to transform this device well, to transition it to the state of getting things done. Putting this kickstand in the product, flies right in the face seamless lines and getting it perfect. But we really spent a lot of time here. We knew that if we do not get the kickstand perfect, this device would not work. We could not take any chances. Take a look at the three hinges that you see within this device. This is a really simple example of the details of the product. These are three custom-made hinges, mind you there are over 200 custom parts built from the inside out of this product to make it come to life.
But these hinges, they respect just as Steven told you. They respect to feel and sound like a high-end car door. When you close the device, the kickstand just goes away. It’s not in your way. When you needed the device, it’s there, just in time. You want to get something done, just open it and it feels great.
The spec we created was around sound. We iterated over and over again in our anechoic chamber. This is a critical point. We’ve really wanted to get the sound rights. So you get that – this full feeling, that emotional attachment to your product when you open this kickstand and close it. It makes it yours, it goes away when you don’t need it and it’s there when you do.
Now, we talked about VaporMg a few times. Now let me bring VaporMg to life just a little bit here. So you can understand a little bit more about what we did. VaporMg essentially becomes what lets us, get our product design and create life out of it. You can see the break up behind me, let me just explain a few things that we have going on.
I’m holding up my room key, it feels weird to hold at my room key. But if you look at this quickly, what you’ll see is 0.77 millimeters of thickness. This is an important point. If you can’t see it, that’s all right, same as a credit card, pull it out, your credit cards likely somewhere between 0.75 or 0.85 millimeters thick. It’s just a illustrated point. VaporMg is a process where we start with an ingot of magnesium and we melt it down to a molten state. Within injection mold the magnesium, there are some tools and we’re able to actually mold the intricate details that are needed for Surface. We mold down to 0.65 millimeters of thickness in any given part. 0.75 … [he means the credit card thinkness just mentioned], we mold to 0.65, this is important to understand, because for us to get to the design we needed for this product, to get the kick stand, integrated seamlessly and hold this line throughout the product we had to be able to mold to those tolerances.
Every micron matters within Microsoft Surface. we’ve actually stacked up every part from designing from the inside out, so tightly in the product and so cleanly that even if you stuck a piece of tape in the middle of the device, it would bulge, it would bulge out. That tells you how strong this product is, how much strength comes with it, how light it feels in your hands, all those parts play into each other.
The best part about VaporMg is not just that we can mold a 0.65 and get the intricate details like the 0.65 millimeters angles that go around the product this radial. The best part is the smoothness of the finish that comes out of the tools. After approximately 152 steps to get the VaporMg looking just like you see now, you find that the Surface finish on this product and as Mike says, bright in craftsmanship is perfect, it’s seamless. It screens watch quality finish and when you put it in your hands, it feels elegant, when you touch it, you’re going to want to hold it, I promise you.
Now I’m proud of VaporMg and I’m proud of the team for the product that they’ve done, but nothing, nothing stirs me more, nothing gets me more excited than Touch Cover. I really want to walk you through Touch Cover for just a few moments. This is an important technology that came out of our group. I’m going to walk you through it in two ways, the first way is through the experience and the second way I’m going to talk about is the technology.
Let’s do the experience first, we explained you what we try to do with Touch Cover from the get go, you notice I’m going to connect it now to my blue Touch Cover. So I just click it in, as you would expect. The Surface turns blue along with my Touch Cover and you have a beautiful integration of hardware and software. My Surface knows what is connected to it. I can now bring to life the vision that is Touch Cover for this product. The vision that lets you produce content when you want it, how you want it as fast as you’ve always done it, that’s what this product was designed for.
Let me give you one more second on this, on a little bit of the experience. The thing that was so critical for us in creating Touch Cover was that it had to be 3 millimeters thin. This essentially is at odds of any other keyboard you’ve used and still have a great typing experience. It also had to be a cover you wanted to connect, something you always had with you, something that gave you confidence just like the kick stand to bring this product to life.
We designed flex magnets in this product, that’s a combination of alignment in clamping magnets. You could actually never miss connecting this device, you can’t miss, we force you to not miss. We do that to give you confidence. You close it, it feels like a book, we design this organically like a book; we wanted it to feel just like that. What has more covers on it than books themselves? This spine feels like a book. When you put it in your hand and you walk away with your product, you’ll hold it like a book. When you carry it against your books, it will feel like it’s another book, it’s just light enough and it feels just perfect.
Now that said, I think you’re going to fall in love with Touch Cover. I know I have. I mean I’m seriously in love with it outside of my wife, Touch Cover is number two. It’s very important to me. Now, I never want to take Touch Cover off, and I’d argue that you don’t need to and you never have to.
You saw Mike move his Touch Cover to the back. Now when he did that I’m sure every single one of you thought like wait a minute, how do you move it to the back? Well, Touch Cover is pretty smart; it has an accelerometer built into it. The moment you fold it back, we know you fold it back, we know when you’re not using it and it’s turned off for you.
So you never have to take it off and underneath your fingertips, it feels great. So now you’ve got a comfortable device with Touch Cover that’s yours, it’s personalized to you. You saw the beautiful colors that we have coming to market and essentially what’s brought to you is an experience like none other with Touch Cover and Surface together.
Now I showed you the experience, but I wanted to show you the technology, because it really is important that you understand it and quite frankly, we have a bit of a mad scientist, who many of you know, named Stevie Bathiche. Stevie actually invented Touch Cover, the fact that we have 30 years of input experience using mice and 15 years creating keyboards, we really understand how to create a great typing experience. We also knew that if we brought you Touch Cover, and Touch Cover wasn’t any good, boy, what a breaking moment. But we’ve actually evolved this technology to a point through Stevie and his work to come to a place where we’ve brought you an experience that’s amazing at typing. There’s actually seven layers squeezed in, pressed right into Touch Cover to keep it 3 millimeters thin. Now that’s super thin, but critical for you to have a great experience when folding it back.
Let me explain to you how the technology works just ever so slightly and quickly. So what you’re going to see is I’m going to put my hands down on this machine here and, what you’re seeing is this is Surface for Windows RT, and my hands are down on Touch Cover. You’ll notice that my hands are laying flat on Touch Cover right now yet nothing is happening. If this was in fact a capacitive screen or the phone you might have in your pocket or some other device you might have, the keyboard would take up off the screen and you put your fingers down and it would look something like that.
Now that’s me actually pressing on Touch Cover, and it knows the grams of force coming off my fingertips, on to Touch Cover. Why is this critical? When you type in touch type speed, you have to find your home position and rest your hands. To do that, your keyboard can’t fire when you put your hands down, it’s comfortable, you can rest your hands and note as I put pressure on the J key, how the pressure goes up as I push harder and as I release, the pressure comes off.
It’s actually measuring every gram of force coming off my fingertips and as I start to type, it knows how many keys I’ve hit. This keyboard actually measures 10 times faster in scanning from a keyboard matrix than any keyboard, guarantee that you use today. It is super fast and brings great, great opportunity for you to be productive and get stuff done.
Obviously, I have a lot of pride in this product. I hope you’ll love it. I can’t wait for you to get your hands on it back there, and I really mean that. Steven, thanks for having me up here today.
Steven Sinofsky
That was a moment for our team for sure. I do want to talk a little bit about some availability and pricing information and things like that I know people want to know. Surface for Windows RT, I still say that there will be much more information available on the web and available shortly. So Surface for Windows RT will be available in both a 32 and a 64-gigabyte model and will be priced like comparable tablets that are based on ARM. Surface for Windows 8 Professional will come in 64-gigabyte and 128-gigabyte storage models and will have a retail price comparable with competitive Ultrabook-class PCs. Additional specifics on pricing and packaging will be announced as we get closer to retail availability.
Now of course, retail availability for the Surface PCs will be around the time of – for the Windows RT PC, will be at the time of the Windows 8 general availability and for Windows 8 Pro about three months later. Surface will be available through the Microsoft’s physical stores here in the U.S. and will be available through the select online outlets of the Microsoft store as well.
So welcome everybody to Surface. I just want to invite Steve Ballmer back up on stage one more time and thank you, thank you very much.
Steve Ballmer
I want to thank Steven and Mike and Panos and their team. This has been an unbelievable journey. We’ve invested significantly as you can see in talent, in time, in capital to bring the Surface to market. I was asked in the last few days here why now, why now? We took the time to really get Surface in Windows 8 right to do something that was really different and really special.
We’re very proud; very, very proud of the Surface just like we’re very proud of Windows 8. Because of Windows 8, because of Windows 8 the Surface is a PC, the Surface is a tablet, and the Surface is something new that we think people will absolutely love. We really want those of you here to have a chance to see and touch the Surface and talk with some of the people who are involved in designing the product.
We have several stations set up next-door where you can see the work that went into the creation of the Surface, and we hope you’ll stay and join us for that. Today has been the fun for us to put on for you very, very exciting and I want to thank you all for being part of today’s event. Thanks.

The justification part of the event keynote (was the general introduction, i.e. the first part of the event): i.e. how and why Microsoft decades long hardware innovation history has now been expanded by PC/tablet level innovation, why after Windows 8 innovation Microsoft needed a matching innovation in hardware as well? 

Steve Ballmer
Well, good afternoon and welcome, I certainly want to thank everybody for joining us for today’s event. The past several years have seen great change in the industry and great innovations coming from Microsoft. We’ve helped usher in the new era of cloud computing, we’ve embraced mobility, we are redefining communications and attempting to transform entertainment. In all that we have done Windows is the heart and soul of Microsoft from Windows PCs to Windows Servers to Windows Phones and Windows Azure. Windows is proven to be the most flexible general-purpose software ever created spurring on an ecosystem of unrivaled success.
When Microsoft was founded our vision was odd and broad: a computer on every desk and in every home. And while certainly we are optimists to the core Windows has exceeded even our most optimistic predictions. It now powers well over 1 billion PCs from desktops to laptops to ATMs to NASA workstations and more: in homes, in businesses, in schools and in governments literally around the world.
With Windows 8 we’ve re-imagined the Windows product. We re-imagine Windows from the chipset to the user experience, to power a new generation of PCs that enable new capabilities and new scenarios. We approached the Windows 8 product design in a forward-looking way. We designed Windows 8 for the world we know, in which most PCs are mobile and people want access to information and the ability to create content from anywhere anytime.
People want to do all of that without compromising the productivity that PCs are uniquely known for: from personal productivity applications, to technical applications, business software and literally millions of other applications that are written for Windows that work perfectly on Windows 8. We are incredibly gratified by the enthusiastic response to Windows 8 from our partners, our OEM partners, thousands of developers and literally millions of people consumers who’ve downloaded our previews.
Excitement is high with the new X86 and ARM SoC support. The new Metro User Interface and the new Store all getting very broad interest.
Today, we want to add another piece, another bit of excitement and another piece to that Windows 8 story.
At our foundation Bill Gates and Paul Allen made a bet, a bet on software, at the same time it was always clear that our unique view of what software could do would require us to push hardware sometimes in ways that even the makers of the hardware themselves had yet to envision. That’s the nature of the dynamic between hardware and software pushing each other and pulling each other forward. In fact, our number one revenue product actually the year I joined Microsoft 1980 was a hardware product, something known as the SoftCard. Let’s just take a little bit of a look back at the role of hardware at Microsoft.
[Video Playback]
We believe that any intersection between human and machine can be made better when all aspects of the experience hardware and software are considered in working together. Just let’s take the mouse as an example.
To be successful Windows 1.0 really needed a mouse so we built one. Early reviews of mice were not very positive as people struggled to understand the real value. In fact actually it was so new the Canadian Customs quarantined the Microsoft mouse at the border for four weeks thinking that it was alive.
Our most successful hardware product has been the Xbox and with Kinect we’ve created a whole new user experience. And now developers are pushing Kinect, viewing more exciting and even cooler things for both the game console and for Windows PCs. This combination of hardware, software and peripherals in the Xbox case work together to deliver an absolutely amazing experience.
We see that sort of combination working also today in our PC ecosystem. We believe in the strength of that ecosystem, of software and hardware companies that work together to deliver selection and choice that makes your Windows experience uniquely your own. Those partnerships are essential to the re-imagination of Windows. We’ve worked with the component companies, Intel, AMD, NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments.
Of course the ultimate landing point of this PC experience is through our partnerships with OEMs: HP, Dell, Asus, Acer, Samsung, Sony, Lenovo, Toshiba and many, many more. They will deliver more PCs to market in the year 2013 than in any previous year. IDC estimates that number at over 375 million Windows PCs. That will ensure that software developers and content creators have a larger number of new systems to target with their Windows 8 applications than any other non-phone platform.
However, with Windows 8 we did not want to leave any scene uncovered. Much like Windows 1.0 needed the mouse to complete the experience, we wanted to give Windows 8 its own companion hardware innovation. What is this innovation? It’s something new, it’s something different, it’s a whole new family of computing devices from Microsoft.
[Video Playback]
This is the new Microsoft Surface. It embodies the notion of hardware and software really pushing each other. People do want to create and consume, they want to work and they want to play, they want to be on their couch, they want to be at their desk and they want to be on the go. Surface fulfills that dream. It is a tool to surface your passion, to surface your ideas, to surface your creativity and to surface your enjoyment. I really want you to take the time today to get to know Microsoft Surface. So let’s now learn more from Steven Sinofsky and the Microsoft Surface team.
Steven Sinofsky
Just as we’ve re-imagined Windows we also have a vision for re-imagining the tablet.
We see a tablet that is designed the way that Windows has been designed. We see a tablet that represents a unique vision with a seamless expression of entertainment and creativity. A tablet that works and plays the way that you want to, a tablet that’s a great PC, a PC that’s a great tablet, a new type of computing, Surface.
Surface is a stage for Windows. Surface is designed for the software experience to take it, have it take centre stage. Surface is super thin at 9.3 millimeters. It’s just thin enough for this full size USB port for peripherals or just charging your phone while you are at the hotel. The edges are bevelled away at 22 degrees, so the PC itself fades into the background. It feels natural in your hands.
Surface is the first PC with a full magnesium case. Through unique process the liquid metal is formed into an ultra rigid, yet ultra light frame. It is incredibly in strong and it’s airy at under 1.5 pounds, just 676 grams, and it’s finely balanced. We didn’t stop there, the case is one of a kind. It’s made from a physical vapor deposition process. It results in a permanent scratch and wear resistance for Surface. This VaporMg case is a first of a kind, and it accentuates the unique feel of Surface.
Surface is of course great for entertainment. It has access to all of the Windows apps for music, for video, for Xbox and gaming. We can see here I’m running Internet Explorer. I can browse smoothly, use see great pages using ClearType and have a great experience just with all the – with browsing. It’s 10.6 inch optically bonded, wide screen display, is custom designed for Surface. And of course people play games. I can go and play any of the interesting games that are on – in the Windows Store and I can use Surface for using all the sensors that are within Windows as well. Surface works for all of those games.
Movies and entertainment look great as well. Excuse me just a second. Surface looks great for entertainment as well. In fact I’m going to show here for the first time a very exciting new application. This is the Netflix application designed specifically for Windows 8. Now with the wide screen you get 30% more viewing area and no banding or letter boxing like you traditionally see.
I’m happy to show this new Netflix application … [,  give you an early look how it’s designed specifically for Windows 8 with semantic zoom. And Netflix will have this ready at the Windows 8 launch. I can go here and start a movie and see it stream straight to my Surface PC. Just like you would expect.
Now to stream so well Surface needs great Wi-Fi. Surface is the first tablet to incorporate dual 2×2 MIMO antennas. That means it provides the very best Wi-Fi reception of any tablet today. Surface is incredibly great for Windows and for entertainment PC. And we are just getting started.] …

More information:

Surface Website
On-Demand Keynote: Microsoft Surface Event
Broll: Product imagery of Microsoft Surface
Broll: Images from Microsoft Surface Event
Product & Event Images
See it in Action

And remember this leading edge Microsoft Surface family, leading edge even  against Apple’s market leading offerings, so this product is definitely just the tip of the iceberg. Consider this Channel 4 report which is showing the kind of the future which could come from Microsoft as seen back to the beginning of last year:
Touching, waving at and talking to the future with Microsoft [Channel 4 News YouTube channel, Feb 8, 2011]

(Note towards the end of the video, Panos Panay to appear as simply from Microsoft Surface.) Additional infomation:
–  Benjamin Cohen, the reporter in the video, had this detailed blog post about that visit
–  Steve Clayton, the Microsoft’s not that long ago initiated, ‘Next at Microsoft’ storyteller, had also this detailed blog post about that visit

Note that Microsoft shares started to raise already last Friday (obviously based on expectation when the invitations to a ‘mistery event’ were sent out). Nevertheless from $29.34 to this Tuesday’s closing price of $30.71 that was only a 1% growth. Interestingly during the same period Apple’s share price had a 1% growth as well, although Apple made its series of announcements a week earlier, on Monday last week (June 11th, 2012):
Apple Introduces All New MacBook Pro with Retina Display
Apple Updates MacBook Air and Current Generation MacBook Pro with Latest Processors and New Graphics
Mountain Lion Available in July From Mac App Store
Apple Previews iOS 6 With All New Maps, Siri Features, Facebook Integration, Shared Photo Streams & New Passbook App
which resulted in 0.5% growth only.

So the stock market evaluated the Microsoft Surface against the above Apple introductions, and found that on equal level from business growth perspective, although Apple’s closing price yesterday was $587.31, i.e. 19x higher. In terms of market capitalisation  Microsoft remains on the same 47% of Apple’s, so from business competition point of view the announcement of Microsoft Surface is not changing the positions as far as the opinion of the overall business world is concerned. INTERESTING!

Meanwhile the earlier Microsoft Surface product has been renamed as Microsoft PixelSense in order to avoid confusion:

About Microsoft PixelSense [Microsoft page for the press on the PixelSense microsite, June 18, 2012]

The Samsung SUR40 with Microsoft PixelSense is an innovative product that responds to touch, natural hand gestures and real world objects placed on the display, providing effortless interaction with information and digital content in a simple and intuitive way. With a large, 360-degree, 4-inch thin horizontal user interface, the Samsung SUR40 offers a unique gathering place where multiple users can collaboratively and simultaneously interact with content and each other. In addition, the SUR40 provides businesses with unique value in delivering information and services in a more friendly way allowing better engagement with their customers. The Samsung SUR40 with Microsoft PixelSense is targeted for companies across a variety of industries including retail, hospitality, health care, and public sector.
The Samsung SUR40 with Microsoft PixelSense is a major advancement in computing that moves beyond the traditional user interface to a more natural way of interacting with information. The four key attributes that make this experience unique are:
  • Multiuser experience.The horizontal form factor makes it easy for several people to gather together, providing a collaborative, face-to-face computing experience.
  • Massive multitouch contact. The Samsung SUR40 with Microsoft PixelSense recognizes many points of contact simultaneously, not just from one finger, as with a typical touch screen, but up to dozens and dozens of items at once.
  • Direct interaction.Users can actually “grab” digital information with their hands and interact with content through touch and gesture, without the use of a mouse or keyboard.
  • Object recognition. Users can place physical objects on the display to trigger different types of digital responses, including the transfer of digital content.
At CES 2011, Microsoft unveiled the designed for touch experience featuring Microsoft PixelSense technology, which gives LCD panels the power to see without the use of cameras.
This experience comes to life in the Samsung SUR40 with Microsoft PixelSense, which incorporates significant technological advancements designed to enhance the user experience.
The Samsung SUR40 with Microsoft PixelSense features key hardware and software technology advancements informed by feedback from users around the world.
  • Microsoft PixelSense™.Microsoft PixelSense allows a display to recognize fingers, hands, and objects placed on the screen, enabling vision-based interaction without the use of cameras. The individual pixels in the display see what’s touching the screen and that information is immediately processed and interpreted.
  • PixelSense technologydelivers an innovative user experience built on the principles of direct interaction using touch and objects. The Microsoft Surface 2.0 SDK allows application developers to take advantage of capabilities of PixelSense technology.
  • Thin form factor with multiple configuration options.The Samsung SUR40 is four inches thin, which makes it easy to use as a table, hang on the wall with the VESA mount, or embed in walls or custom enclosures. There are standard leg supports available or customers can design and attach their own leg supports.
  • High definition large format display. The 40-inch, stunning high-definition screen (1920 x 1080 resolution) enables enhanced multiuser and multitouch experiences.
Microsoft PixelSense activities are available on the Microsoft PixelSense blog and Microsoft PixelSense on Twitter.
For more information, press only: PixelSense PR team

Also these two videos appeared on a new Microsoft® PixelSense™ YouTube channel [June 18, 2012]:

The Power of Microsoft® PixelSense™

Published on Jun 18, 2012 Microsoft® PixelSense™ technology enables the Samsung SUR40 to recognize fingers, hands and objects placed on the screen, enabling vision-based interaction without the use of cameras. The individual pixels in the display see what’s touching the screen and that information is immediately processed and interpreted. Experience the power of PixelSense on the Samsung SUR40 with Microsoft PixelSense http://www.samsunglfd.com/solution/sur40.do To learn more about Microsoft PixelSense technology please visithttp://www.pixelsense.com

Samsung SUR40 with Microsoft® PixelSense™

Published on Jun 18, 2012 Samsung SUR40 with Microsoft® PixelSense™ brings people together to connect, learn and decide, changing the way people collaborate and connect with a 360-degree interface. And, with Microsoft PixelSense, the SUR40 sees and responds to touch and real world objects. This experience comes to life in the 40 inch high-definition Samsung SUR40 that can be used as a table, on the wall, or embedded in other fixtures or furniture.

Now some first reactions from the event attendees:


Microsoft Surface: a closer look [TheVerge YouTube channel, June 18, 2012]

See also this article: Microsoft Surface with Windows RT hands-on pictures and video [Joshua Topolsky from The Verge, June 18, 2012]


Microsoft Surface tablet demo June 18, 2012 Event in SF [SlashGear YouTube channel, June 18, 2012]

See also these articles, same date, on SlashGear (the first ones are kind of liveblogging):
Microsoft Surface Tablet Hands-on by Vincent Nguyen
Microsoft Surface re-introduced as a handheld tablet by Chris Burns
Microsoft Surface cover doubles as built-in keyboard by Cory Gunther
Microsoft Surface for Windows 8 Pro revealed by Chris Burns:

This tablet introduced its own “Perimeter Venting” so as not to get too hot [in fact to solve the problem of cooling with a tablet which can be used in both portrait and landscape modes], works with Pen input (with digital ink, explained in a different post), and has a display that’s just 0.7mm from the glass that covers it. The Microsoft Surface for Windows 8 Pro has two digitizers, one for ink, one for touch, and has a bit of magnetization for its pen so no holes or clips are needed.

Microsoft Surface to feature digital ink stylus support by Cory Gunther

At the event live they said it best by stating, “This surface has two digitizers. One for touch, one for digital ink.” All stylus or pen input is converted into digital ink and the new Surface tablet is extremely responsive and accurate.

The distance between the screen (digitizer) and the stylus is only .7mm thick, and allows for it to be highly accurate, making you feel like the ballpoint of a pen is actually writing on the “surface”. Surface will see the proximity of a stylus and stop recognizing hand inputs.

Microsoft Surface Windows RT confirmed with NVIDIA’s Tegra processor by Cory Gunther

NVIDIA has just issued a rather short note confirming that their Tegra processor will be under the hood and powering the smooth and fluid Windows 8 RT model. They didn’t specify which Tegra processor as expected, but we are speculating it will be the quad-core Tegra 3 KAI platform, or the Tegra 3+ that was detailed as coming soon [… an upgraded Tegra 3 called T3+, with code-names Wayne and Grey splitting off in the third quarter of 2012 with LTE. Grey specifically will have access to LTE data speeds, with Tegra and Icera hardware being part of this sector for NVIDIA] in a lot more than just Android devices.

Microsoft Surface Touch Cover vs Type Cover hands-on by Chris Burns

These keyboards bring on a fair stab at what 3rd party manufacturers have been attempting for the iPad and a host of Android tablets now for several years. The keyboards on both units aren’t going to bring you a perfect replacement for a notebook computer if you’re attempting to match the laptop-bit of the equation, but if you’re the sort of person to work on a desk, you might be in business.

Microsoft Surface could debut MagSafe-data hybrid hook-up by Chris Davies

The four-pin port is on the right lower edge of the new tablets, and seemingly matches up with the MagSafe-like connector detailed in a patent application from the company. If so, that could mean a single hook-up for recharging the Surface and synchronizing it with other devices.

Microsoft’s patent application followed in the footsteps of Apple’s magnetic charger system – which allows the cord to break away easily if someone trips over it, rather than yanking your laptop off the desk – but added in a data connection. With just one port, the Surface could be hooked up to both a charger and other external hardware, with an optical data link used for maximum speed potential.

The potential for such a connection is vast. Microsoft has been coy about external device support for Surface, only mentioning the USB and video-output ports, but with this proprietary port it could be used with a docking station to add in an optical drive, wired network connection and more.

We’ve been waiting for just such a strategy from Apple for some time, and indeed the Cupertino company has an optical data MagSafe patent application of its own. More on Microsoft Surface in our hands-on here.


Microsoft Surface Tablet: Hands-on [laptopmag YouTube channel, June 18, 2012]

See also these articles:
Microsoft Surface Tablet Hands-on: The Future of Windows is Here [Video] [Michael A. Prospero from LAPTOP Magazine, June 18, 2012]
iPad vs Microsoft Surface: Tablet Specs Compared [Kenneth Butler from LAPTOP Magazine, June 18, 2012] (data higlights are mine to denote the essential differences)

iPad 3
Surface (Windows RT)
Surface (Windows Pro)
Apple A5X dual-core
Nvidia Tegra 3 [simply Tegra]
Intel Core i5
iOS 5
Windows 8 RT
Windows 8 Pro
9.7 inches
(1024 x 768)
10.6 inches
(Resolution unknown)
10.6 inches
(Resolution unknown)
9.5 x 7.31 x 0.37
.37 inches thick
.53 inches thick
Weight (pounds)
16GB, 32GB,
32GB, 64GB
64GB, 128GB
microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD Video, 2×2 MiMO Antenne
microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, 2×2 MiMO Antenae


Microsoft to Unveil a New Tablet – Good or Bad Idea? [The Wall Street Journal YouTube channel, June 18, 2012]

Microsoft is expected to unveil its own tablet computer today. But will it follow in the steps of the Xbox or the Zune? George Stahl discusses on Markets Hub. Photo: AFP/GettyImages.

See also this article: Microsoft Unveils Surface Tablet to Rival iPad [Shira Ovide from The Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2012]

… Al Hilwa, an analyst at IDC, said the combination of PC and tablet features makes surface a “true converged” device. “A Swiss Army knife of a tablet?” …

The computer makers‘ business is dependent on Microsoft, so they may not express annoyance publicly at Microsoft’s trading on the hardware makers’ turf. But at least some hardware executives are fuming privatelyat Microsoft’s decision.

Microsoft’s move to make its own tablet “comes with consequences, which is complicating choices for consumers and complicating relations with third-party manufacturers,” said Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst with Forrester Research Inc.


Microsoft “Surface” Tablet Announced, Powered by Windows 8 [Eric Savitz for ForbesVideo YouTube channel, June 18, 2012]

Aiming squarely at Apple’s hold on the tablet market, Microsoft unveiled ‘Surface’, its new line of tablet computers based on Windows 8.

See also these articles:
Microsoft: Live From Hollywood! Introducing Microsoft Surface Tablet (Updated) [Eric Savitz from Forbes, June 18, 2012]: a live blog of the event
Microsoft Announces Surface, Its New Windows 8 Tablet [Kelly Clay from Forbes, June 18, 2012]

As no one does keyboards better than Microsoft, yet another keyboard is also available for Surface that features a full trackpad with clicking buttons. Though Surface is slightly heavier than the iPad and has 25% less battery life (31.5 Watt hours compared to the iPad’s 42.5 Watt hours), Surface is truly one of the most powerful and lightweight mobile PCs we have seen.

It’s clear that Surface is designed for current Windows users, and according to NetMarketshare, Windows XP, Vista, and 7 combine for 93% of all desktops. For these users – especially those in the corporate environment – there is a hesitation to switch to another platform, even just for mobile use. As a result, Surface could be a game-changer in the tablet industry. Not only does it feature key capabilities that Apple has yet to ever integrate (such as a keyboard), but Surface will undoubtedly make it easier for curent Windows users to transition from home to office and in-between. While a price has yet to be set, it’s expected to be extremely competitive compared to other tablets, ensuring that Surface is a device that many current Windows users will want to own.

Other notable first reports:

1. WIRED magazine [June 18, 2012]:
Liveblog: Meet ‘Surface,’ Microsoft’s New Windows 8 Tablet
Microsoft May Be Late to Tablet Fight, But Has the Cash to Keep Sparring
Microsoft Dives Head-First Into Mobile Hardware With Two 10.6-Inch Tablets

Surface is much, much more than a new tablet platform. It’s also Microsoft’s first fully branded computing device — an ambitious new development direction after years of making only simple computer peripherals. And Surface is also a challenge to every hardware partner in Microsoft’s OEM stable.

“Its a bold move on the part of Microsoft,” says Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg. “This is a real change in strategy for them, and it’s certainly a vote of no confidence for their partners. This shows how high the stakes are. There is competitive pressure from Apple that is clearly a threat to their business. Steve Ballmer seemed to be channeling Steve Jobs on stage, saying hardware and software have to be designed to together.”

As for pricing, Microsoft isn’t saying, but Gartenberg weighs in:

“I’m guessing somewhere between $600 and $1000 — Microsoft was very vague. This the problem you encounter when you launch something so far ahead of delivery,” he said. “For a launch like this, it’s all about the details. Everything about this event, the mysterious invitations, the presentation — Microsoft is trying to be Apple. But the only company that has successfully been like Apple, is Apple.”

2. engadget [June 18, 2012]:
Live from Microsoft’s mystery press conference in Los Angeles! by Dana Wollman
Hands-on with Microsoft Surface for Windows RT, Touch Cover and Type Cover (update: video!) by Dana Wollman:

… (Microsoft has only said that the ARM chip is made by NVIDIA. No one ever said it’s a Tegra 3 SoC, but that is naturally our best bet.) …

Based on remarks by Steve Ballmer and others during the presentation, it sounds like a lot of thought went into the two keyboards, so we wouldn’t be surprised if a large focus group of touch typists were able to prove Redmond’s engineers right. But having played with both, we don’t imagine this being like settling in with a new laptop or Transformer-style dock. You might have to re-learn how to type (or at least teach your brain to fuhgeddaboutit and trust your fingers to land where they’re supposed to.) …

Even after some brief handling, we feel impressed, almost sobered by what Microsoft’s managed to produce after vowing to take the Windows 8 hardware-software package into its own hands. Surface for Windows RT is well-made, polished, durable and carefully engineered. And yes, that’s sobering news: Microsoft’s own OEM partners, everyone from ASUS to Acer to HP, should feel a tinge of defensiveness. If Redmond’s mission until now has been to showcase all the possible form factors for Windows 8, it may have just taken a step in the opposite direction by upstaging everybody else.

Microsoft reveals its own Windows 8 tablet: meet the new Surface for Windows RT by Jon Fingas:

Not unlike Apple’s last two generations, there’s a magnetically attached cover, but it’s more than just a protector: here, it includes a full multi-touch keyboard and trackpad.

Microsoft one ups other tablet ‘smart’ covers with Surface’s Touch Cover and Type Cover by Terrence O’Brien:

… right now we’re pretty enamored with Microsoft’s Touch Cover for the newly announced Surface. See, it works almost exactly like that other “smart” tablet shield, but this one actually earns it’s smart moniker. When you peel the plastic shroud back it turns into a fully functional keyboard and touchpad. Obviously, being a thin plastic sheet, the cover is relying on touch for key presses, not the actual depression of mechanical switches. …

Perhaps one of the more interesting features though, is their ability to force Win 8 to color coordinate with your chosen shade of folio. Click the blue Touch Cover on to the Surface and the background switches to a soothing shade azure. There’s even an accelerometer inside those 3mm-thin softer covers — which is an impressive feat of engineering. The Touch Covers can easily distinguish between you simply resting your hands on the keyboard and actually typing, which should help minimize accidental key presses.

Microsoft announces Surface for Windows 8 Pro: Intel inside, optional pen input by Donald Melanson
Microsoft Surface tablets: the differences between Windows RT and Windows 8 Pro models by Darren Murph

3. CNET [June 18, 2012]:
Microsoft breaks tradition with Microsoft Surface tablets
Surface touches the right keys, but not a complete picture
Who is the Microsoft Surface for, exactly?
Five key takeaways from Microsoft’s Surface event:

… 1. Don’t confuse this with the table thing [i.e. the old Surface now called Microsoft PixelSense]. … 2. This isn’t just aimed at the iPad and Android tablets [as it can work like a PC, complete with a full version of Windows]. … 3. This thing is high-tech. … 5. This is just the start [as Microsoft is positioning Surface as the beginning of a family]. …

Why Microsoft built its own tablet — think Apple and Xbox

The tablet and ultraportable form factors are especially fertile ground in terms of growth and innovation. A recent Online Publishers Association studyfound that 31 percent of the U.S. Internet population (74.1 million users) own tablets, up from 12 percent in 2011. By 2013, the study projected that 47 percent of the U.S. Internet population (117.4 million users) would own tablets.

At this juncture, Google’s Android platform (including Amazon’s Kindle) and Apple’s iOS are splitting the market. Apple’s continuation of its firm grip on hardware and software integration is working exceedingly well, as evidenced by the company’s incredible financial success.

Google gives its Android platform to partners for free, which leads to some fragmentation and a fraction of the profits Apple is generating. Like Microsoft, Google plans to introduce its own branded tablet this month. Microsoft expects that it can generate some buzz and give Windows users a legitimate alternative to Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, as well as incent its developer community to build native apps for its platform.

Note: In the above argumentation CNET relied on the released the same day “A Portrait of Today’s Tablet User – Wave II” U.S. findings from the Online Publishers Association (OPA), particularly the one represented on the following slide:


for which the accompanying OPA press release stated the following:

… Tablet adoption has significantly increased in the past year; 2012 saw 31% of the U.S. internet population owning tablets (74.1M users), up from 12% (28.3M users) in 2011. Furthermore, by the year 2013 this figure is expected to increase with a projected 47% of the U.S. internet population (117.4M users) owning tablets.

Of these tablet users, the Android platform has drawn level with iOS, largely in part because of the strong sales of the Kindle. 52% of tablet owners have an iOS operating system, while 51% use an Android powered tablet (percentages do not add up to 100% because tablet owners own/use more than one type of tablet). This is a drastic change from 2011, which saw 72% of tablet owners use some form of the iPad while only 32% used an Android tablet. …

4. AllThingsD [June 18, 2012]:
Microsoft’s Surface Tablet Takes On Apple’s iPad liveblog by Ina Fried
Microsoft Launches New Surface Tablets With Windows 8 by Bonnie Cha
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Where Microsoft’s New Surface Tablet Fits in PC Ecosystem by Ina Fried

In a brief chat after the event, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that PC makers have known for an unspecified period of time that Microsoft would be doing its own hardware.

Ballmer noted that there will be a lot of PCs sold that will be made by companies other than Microsoft.

If you look at the bulk of the 375 million machines that get sold (next year), they probably aren’t going to be Surfaces,” Ballmer said. “On the other hand, we could have a sizeable business.”

It’s an important companion to the whole Windows 8 story,” Ballmer said. “It’s an important piece. It’s not the only piece.”

While Microsoft kept the details of Surface tightly limited to a small group of Microsoft employees working on the project, Ballmer said PC makers weren’t totally taken by surprise.

“Our PC partners knew in advance we were announcing something today in this space,” Ballmer said.

So how did they feel about it? “No comment.”

Ballmer said Microsoft’s goal is that Surface “gives people a full range of things to think about, sort of primes the pump for more innovation around Windows 8, (and) brings new technology to the Windows PC platform.”

Just how closely to the vest has Microsoft been keeping Surface? Ballmer said he has not personally been using a prototype on a regular basis.

“We wanted to keep things under wraps,” Ballmer said. “I’m out in public a lot.”

5. Boy Genius Report (BGR) [June 18, 2012]:
Live from Microsoft’s tablet event! by Brad Reed
Microsoft unveils Surface tablet by Zach Epstein
Microsoft Surface tablet hands-on by Brad Reed

I have to admit that the Touch Cover felt somewhat alien to me at first when I was playing around with it, but that could be due to the fact that I didn’t have a lot of time to play around with it — Microsoft was really herding reporters quickly through the line. The Type Cover did feel quite natural as a keyboard should, however, so at the very least, there should be one strong option for people who prefer traditional keyboards.

The tablet’s 10.6-inch display screen looked gorgeous, although Microsoft was being weirdly evasive when asked what the exact screen resolution was. The tablet’s “VaporMg” casing is extremely solid, and the tablet feels very strong in your hands. Despite being 9.3 millimeters thick, the Windows RT version of the Surface is in no danger of bending under pressure.

In terms of software, Windows RT brings some cool new capabilities to the tablet form factor, including the ability to run two apps on the same screen simultaneously. One Microsoft rep, for instance, demonstrated how to have Outlook email on one half of the screen while having sports scores on the other half. And of course, the home screen on both versions of the Surface tablet features Windows 8′s Metro UI that is significantly more intuitive, colorful and user-friendly than past editions of Windows.



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  8. […] Surface: First media reflections after the New-York press launch [Oct 26, 2012]- Core post: Giving up the total OEM reliance strategy: the Microsoft Surface tablet [June 19, […]

  9. […] from Google Play to speakers and screen in home under Android device control [June 28, 2012]- Giving up the total OEM reliance strategy: the Microsoft Surface tablet [June 19 – July 30, 2012]- ASUS: We are the real transformers, not Microsoft [Oct 17, 2012]- […]

  10. […] more smartphones and tablets while the Windows notebook shipments will shrink by 2% [Nov 20, 2012]- Giving up the total OEM reliance strategy: the Microsoft Surface tablet [June 19 – July 30, 2012]- The future of Windows Embedded: from standalone devices to intelligent […]

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