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Microsoft announces new Surface tablet but can it compete with the iPad?

At a special event this afternoon in Los Angeles, Microsoft fulfilled the rumors and unveiled their new tablet, called the Microsoft Surface.

The Microsoft Surface tablet weighs 1.5 lbs and sports a 10.6-inch Gorilla Glass display, edges beveled at 22 degrees, a 9.33mm magnesium case, USB 2.0 and DisplayPort for high resolution displays.

The new tablet will come in a number of flavors, including those that run Windows RT and a version with an Intel chip that will run the full desktop Windows 8 OS.

That version, which has a higher-res display called “ClearType,” is a “full PC,” said Microsoft Corporate VP Michael Anguilo.

He added that its specs rival those of the most powerful ultrabooks available.

Other notable features of the Microsoft Surface include a built-in kickstand for easy media viewing, pen input with digital ink sampling at 600 dpi, and a magnetic cover similar to the iPad’s, but with a full multitouch keyboard and trackpad.

In addition to the magnetic cover, Microsoft unveiled the Type Cover physical keyboard attachment with a full trackpad and clicking buttons for more tactile feedback.

Microsoft Surface is “the first of its kind”

Windows President Steven Sinofsky said the device is “the first of its kind.”

Microsoft began the presentation with a video detailing their history with hardware (including mice, webcams, keyboards, Xbox 360, and Kinect) before bringing out the big guns and revealing Microsoft Surface.

“Much like Windows 1 needed the mouse, we wanted to give Windows 8 it’s own hardware,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. “This combination of hardware and software works together to deliver an amazing experience.”

The tablet is clearly meant to appeal to those whose needs are not being met by the somewhat limited capabilities of current tablet offerings from the likes of Apple, Samsung, Amazon, and Google.

But there are likely going to be some Microsoft hardware partners displeased that they’ve been left out of the loop.

Ballmer acknowledged as much when he said, “It was always clear that what our software could do would require us to push hardware, sometimes where our partners hadn’t envisioned.”

Software driving hardware

Not only does Surface deliver hardware innovations that the OEMs can’t turn around and put on their Android tablets; it also take advantage of the hardware experts at Microsoft and their 3,200 hardware patents and lets Microsoft deliver the PC it thinks Windows 8 will run best on, not a PC maker’s interpretation of that.

This is Microsoft pushing, pulling and kicking the PC manufacturers forward and emphasising the things it things really matter in a PC tablet. Not just finger touch, but pen input; smooth, digital ink that feels like you’re writing on paper and a place on the side to clip the pen into place magnetically.

Not just a keyboard you can use as a cover, but a multitouch keyboard that knows when you’re just putting your hands on the keys to get them in the right place and when you’re actually typing.

And a keyboard that turns itself off as soon as you fold it back out of the way and stops any accidental typing at all. Some of this comes from Microsoft Research and Microsoft hardware and all of it makes Windows 8 look as good as it possibly can. Something Microsoft is determined to do.

What do you think of the Surface? iPad killer? Leave a comment below!

Microsoft announces new Surface tablet but can it compete with the iPad?


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