No, Microsoft’s Entry-Level Surface Will Not Cost $1000

Microsoft’s announcement last month that they’re making their own tablet hardware — and directly competing with the very OEMs and partners that they license their software to — was huge in revealing a radical step forward for the company.

However, while it certainly is an important milestone and turning point for Microsoft, the event lacked plenty of important details pertaining to the product itself. We’re still in the dark about exact pricing and availability information, among other things, leaving many intrigued and mystified about key factors that could make or break the device.

Yesterday, WPCentral spotted that Swedish online store Webhallen listed the Microsoft Surface on their website, which sported some ludicrous pricing; the entry-level ARM-based 32GB Surface is priced at 6990 NOK, or roughly $1150 USD. What fascinates me is that there are posts aggregating this “story” that don’t immediately ridicule, but rather entertain the idea, as though it’s even plausible. On top of the outlandish pricing, we already know that the Surface will only be officially available through Microsoft Stores (and their online outlet.)

I also reached out to Webhallen, and they issued a comment stating that existing prices on the site are not based on any word from Microsoft whatsoever:

Our customers are very interested in pre-ordering these products, so we have set a high preliminary pricing for the lineup so that they may be able to pre-order them.

Just to clarify, we have not recieved any pricing from Microsoft regarding MRSP or purchasing net cost, and any people who have booked the Surface at this high price will of course have their order adjusted before any product is shipped. So we’re not going to overcharge anyone for being an early adopter.

I understand that Microsoft does some pretty unusual things, but they’re not batshit crazy.

So in conclusion, here’s a recap of yesterday’s highly credible blog posts: Microsoft, the company that needs every advantage it can get to even gain a smidgen of ground in the tablet market will charge a few hundred dollars more than a 32GB WiFi+3G iPad for its entry-level model, and upwards of $2000 for an Intel-based Surface Pro which is essentially an Ultrabook/Macbook Air competitor. Riiighhttt.

[Post updated with comment from Webhallen.]

Microsoft Acquires Perceptive Pixel Inc.; Demos Windows 8 on an 82″ Multi-touch Display

Today, Microsoft announced the acquisition of Perspective Pixel, a leader in research, development and production of large-scale, multi-touch display solutions. The announcement came at the end of the Vision Keynote at the 2012 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Network Conference.

At the keynote, Steve Ballmer introduced Jeff Han, a multi-touch researcher and co-founder of Perspective Pixel Inc., who demonstrated Windows 8 running on an incredible 82” touch screen. The awe-inspiring demo also featured the note-taking app, OneNote, and an ad-hoc collaboration called Storyboard. While the terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, Perceptive Pixel’s large-scale, multi-touch hardware and software technology will help Microsoft to enable and showcase interesting collaboration and productivity scenarios with Windows and Office.

The display unit during the demo is world’s largest projected capacitive, optically bonded multi-touch display and supports both touch and pen based input. Microsoft has also been working on table-sized multitouch tables, formerly called Surface, but now known as PixelSense.

Perspective Pixel was founded in 2006, and its technology gained widespread recognition in 2008 as CNN and other broadcasters covered the U.S. Presedential elections aided by large displays in their studios. The company also won the National Design Award in the inaugural category of Interaction Design at the Smithsonian awards in 2009. Perceptive Pixel’s patented technology is used in broadcast, government, defense, energy, higher education, engineering, and product design.


Tablet Showdown: Google Nexus 7 vs Microsoft Surface vs Apple iPad 3

The launch of Nexus 7 by Google has set the tablet industry ablaze, not for producing a super cheap tablet, but for packing in a fully featured tablet for a small price tag of $199. So let’s see how well does it stacked up against the new iPad, the current undisputed king of the tablet world, and Microsoft’s own Surface, which was released just two weeks back.

Comparison: Google Nexus 7 vs Microsoft Surface vs Apple iPad 3Nexus 7 vs Microsoft Surface vs Apple iPad 3

SpecNexus 7Microsoft SurfaceNew iPad
Operating SystemAndroid 4.1 Jelly BeanWindows 8iOS 6
Display7” 1280×800 IPS Display10.6” ClearType HD Display9.7” 2048×1536 IPS Display
Camera1.2MP front camera

5MP rear and 0.3MP front camera

Memory1 GB RAM



Storage8GB and 16GB32GB, 64GB for Surface RT and 64GB, 128GB for Surface Pro16GB, 32GB and 64GB
CPUQuad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor

Nvidia ARM processor on Surface RT and Intel iCore i5 on Surface Pro

1.0 Ghz Dual-core Apple A5X processor

  • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth
  • MicroUSB
  • NFC
  • GPS
Surface RT is WiFi Only while Surface Pro will be WiFi + 3G/4G LTE
  • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/a
  • Bluetooth
  • MicroUSB
  • HDMI
  • 3G/4G
  • Google now
  • Play Music
  • Play Magazines
  • Play Books
  • Play Movies
  • Office
  • Touch Cover
  • Pen with Palm Block
  • Siri
  • Newstand
  • Game Center
  • Photo Booth
Dimensions198.5 x 120 x 10.45mmUnknown241.2 x 185.7 x 9.4 mm
Thickness10.45mmSurface RT – 9.3mm
Surface Pro – 13.5mm
Battery4325 mAh (Upto 8 hours of active use)Unknown11560 mAh (Upto 10 hours of active use)


This ‘pure Google experience’ tablet has fragmented the tablet market into two sections — The premium section led by the iPad and the affordable section for which the Nexus 7 has been made for.

In the upcoming 6-7 months, I’m pretty sure that the Nexus 7 will cover a significant tablet market share by focusing sorely on the ‘Affordable’ section while iPad will undoubtedly remain the king of the ‘Premium’ section. The real challenge will certainly be felt by the Microsoft Surface, which will have a tough time trying to enter in a market that exists between these two sections.

At $599, Surface Would Be The Best Value For Money Tablet To Own

While Microsoft has not officially announced the price of the Surface, rumors doing rounds suggest the Windows 8 ARM Surface will start at $599. And that is a great price, it beats the iPad by a huge margin. The iPad starts at $499 for 16GB, while the 32GB model is $599. The iPad does not come preloaded with Microsoft Office and neither does it bundle the cover and a keyboard.

The first thing to understand with the Surface is that the keyboard is NOT a separate device. The engineering geniuses at Microsoft have made the keyboard so thin (3mm) that it is the cover for the Surface. If you want the keyboard, you open the cover and use it as a keyboard, like here:

(Image courtesy Tech Radar)

And if you don’t want the keyboard, you open the cover and it snaps at the back of the Surface, like here:

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s compare the iPad and Surface pricing:

On the specs page for Surface, Microsoft lists the covers as part of the device which would indicate the price when announced will include the covers. I think the rumored price of $599 also comes from the fact that the 32GB iPad starts at $599.

Disclaimer: The $599 price for Surface are rumors and haven’t been confirmed yet.

Microsoft Has Finally Taken A Stand Against Janky OEMs

From way back — years ago, on then-popular Internet forums — I vehemently argued that Microsoft needs to either highly regulate OEMs, or manufacture its own hardware (and this wasn’t even in the context of tablets at the time; prior to Windows 8, the bigger issue was the complete lack of touch usability). Rather, OEMs made sub-par hardware, provided a terrible customer experience, loaded up their machines with bloatware, and at times failed to produce adequate drivers for their hardware, causing instability issues for the end-user. And, partially wrongfully — they still could have taken more action to prevent it — many users blamed Microsoft for these shortcomings.

Fast forward to now, Microsoft has realized that the tablet space will be a very crucial part of their business in the years ahead. They have built Windows 8 primarily with touch in mind, taking a relatively big risk with some of the major changes they have made to the OS. They have also realized that, during such a critical time for them as they adapt to the changing ecosystem, they cannot completely entrust their fate in OEMs. Finally, they have taken matters into their own hands.

Now, while I do have some criticisms towards both the event itself and the actual Surface devices that were announced, it’s important to realize that this is a colossal step in the right direction for Microsoft in many ways.

The event took place at a highly suitable venue: Milk Studios, a noteworthy photo studio that could have had the keynote easily mistaken for a fashion runway event. The lighting was excellent, and the slides were elegant and simple while still looking like Microsoft. But not the clumsy Microsoft that we have come to know; rather, the slides help to depict the new era that the company is kicking off.

Thankfully, Microsoft did not deploy any of their notoriously embarrassing tomfoolery, such as that Tweet Choir from CES, or that inappropriate joke about genitals and the innuendo of the company name.

Something else worth noting is the secrecy that surrounded this event. Shortly after the cryptic invitations to the keynote were sent out to the press, AllThingsD and some other noteworthy sites began to report that Microsoft were building their own tablet. However, there were no solid leaks or specifics revealed about the actual device.

Now, that being said, there were also a few negative things about the event. For one, they didn’t reveal some very critical details about the devices; we’re still in the dark on availability, pricing and battery life, all of which are critical things that people consider when purchasing a tablet.

It’s absolutely ridiculous that not only is there no official word from the company on when these tablets will be available, but we also cannot preorder them. That brings us to the timing of the event: If Microsoft for whatever reason felt unable to announce these details or even make the tablet available for preorder for that matter, why couldn’t they have waited until they were able to? I fail to see how this was time sensitive in that regard. If the timing was so that they could overshadow Google’s I/O event, it wasn’t worth it in my opinion; they should have just waited.

Moving on to the devices themselves. There will be two Surface tablets: The first is an ARM-based Windows RT tablet that’s aptly named Surface RT. As it is targeted towards the iPad, Android tablets, and other Windows 8 ARM devices, it will likely be competitively priced and endowed with considerable battery life. The second tablet — Surface Pro — is Intel-based and will run a full-fledged copy of Windows 8 Pro. This is more of an ultrabook competitor, so it will be obviously more expensive with less battery life than its ARM counterpart.

As you can see, they just couldn’t resist doing two highly Microsoft-y things here: Confusing customers with SKUs, and terrible branding. Now people will have to educate themselves about the differences between the Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets. They may even assume that due to the higher price tag and use of the word “Pro” with the Surface Pro tablet, the Surface RT is inadequate for their needs when really they just want a tablet for content consumption purposes. It’s even more confusing because the legacy desktop is still present in Windows RT and may lead consumers to believe that they can run all desktop apps on their ARM device, but that’s for another post.

And what’s with the recycling of the Surface brand? When you think of a surface, you think of a generally larger area such as a table or countertop. But a tablet? Did Microsoft want to capitalize on what consumers may have already known about the Surface branding?

WAIT. I’m going to stop quibbling about SKUs and branding. Microsoft has finally stood up to the OEMs that have continually besmirched their software products, and, in the process, (hopefully) set the bar for actually good hardware. Considering that they’ve done something this radical, it’s only a matter of time before they begin to simplify their product names as well.

Now, unlike Apple’s hilarious dick move of not informing carriers about iMessage until it was announced, Steve Ballmer did mention while speaking with The Verge that OEMs were informed about the company’s decision to make their own hardware. He also noted that they might “opine”; sounds like some may not be happy. Here’s hoping that rather than whine about it, they proceed to actually make good hardware.

And, to be clear, there’s nothing unfair or uncompetitive going on here. Microsoft isn’t doing anything dodgy, and have clarified that they will be playing by the same rules as the OEMs in their press release: “OEMs will have cost and feature parity on Windows 8 and Windows RT.”

It will be awesome if the Surface is really as sturdy and well-built as they described, as these are two very important qualities that the iPad excels at. A high-scoring bit on the build quality test will certainly be testing the kickstand to verify that it is similar to the door on a luxury automobile. I think that the Touch Covers were also a great idea. Whether or not you agree with Microsoft that tablets should be accompanied by external keyboards, you have to admit that their execution on this vision is really well-done.

From an aesthetic point of view, the darker shade of grey that the tablet is in can look slightly boring in some photos, but that’s okay. I’m sure it’s nicer in person. It still looks much better than any of the Windows RT tablets that OEMs have shown off thus far (and probably will show off in the foreseeable future). It also looks pretty unique; you can easily tell it apart from an iPad, or from Samsung tablets that look like the iPad. Strangely enough, it didn’t need to be designed by lawyers to achieve this.

I’ll reserve further commentary on the hardware for when I actually get some hands-on time with it, but I’ll conclude the post with this:

Holy shit, Microsoft is actually making their own tablet.

Image Courtesy: Surface, The Verge

Video: Microsoft Surface Tablet Event

Earlier today, during the immensely hyped Microsoft event that had the blogosphere speculating since Thursday, the company revealed something big: They’re making their own tablets, dubbed the Surface. And now, the full video of this pivotal keynote has been released on the Microsoft News Center website (and YouTube, thanks to The Verge.)

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Windows Chief Steven Sinofsky both took the stage to debut the device, along with Michael Angiulo, the Corporate VP of Windows Planning, Hardware, and PC Ecosystem, and Panos Panay, who lead the team that created the device. One quote that truly captures how major this is coming from Microsoft is this, from Ballmer:

“It was always clear that what our software could do would require us to push hardware, sometimes where our partners hadn’t envisioned.”

While Microsoft has certainly made its own hardware before — the Xbox and Zune — it has never done so in a manner that encroached in the space of its valued PC OEM partners, who manufacture the very devices that run Windows.

Head on over to YouTube to watch the roughly 48 minute long keynote.