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Old 21-06-12, 00:05   #1
 
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Computers PHOTOS -Microsoft New Tablet-For Windows 8

Microsoft Unveils Surface Windows 8 tablets


The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones: "This is a really interesting development"


BBC Tech News, 20 June 2012


The touchscreen computers will be powered by its upcoming Windows 8 system and contain a choice of an Intel or ARM-based processor.

It allows the firm to challenge Apple's bestselling iPad with a device that can run standard applications such as its own Office programs and Photoshop.

But it puts Microsoft in competition with other manufacturers planning to release tablets designed for Windows 8.

The company's chief executive, Steve Ballmer, said he had wanted to give the software "its own companion hardware".

The devices have 10.6 inch (26.9cm) displays, built-in kickstands and are housed in magnesium cases - which the company described as the first of their kind.

The ARM-based tablets are 9.3mm (0.4 inches) thick - slightly less than the iPad - and run the Windows RT version of the new system. The Verge reported that the chipset will be built by Nvidia. Third-party developers must rewrite programs from scratch to run on the system's Metro interface to work on these devices.

The versions using Intel's x86 technology run Windows 8 Pro and are 13.5mm (0.5 inches) thick. These can run Metro and an updated version of the "classic" desktop meaning they can use software designed for earlier editions of Windows, although some programs will need to be updated to be compatible.

The specifications mean the Surface tablets have bigger screens than the iPad but are heavier.
Pen input

A variety of accompanying covers can be attached using built-in magnets. They double as keyboards with trackpads. One version is flat while the other offers keys that can be depressed.

The devices are also designed to work with a pen accessory using what the firm dubbed "digital ink". When the stylus is held close to the screen of the tablet it ignores touch-input from the users' hands and "samples" the ink at 600dpi (dots per inch).

The ARM-based version will be available with either 32GB (gigabytes) or 64GB of storage. Microsoft said they would be priced at a similar rate to other tablets using the same type of processor built by other firms.

It added that the Intel-based versions would be offered with either 64GB or 128GB of storage and would have price tags comparable to ultrabook laptops.

Different Chipsets

One tech analyst told the BBC that other hardware makers were likely to feel aggrieved by the news.

"Microsoft can offer a competitive price for these specifications as it doesn't need to pay itself a licence for the Windows 8 software which other manufacturers will have to do, and that might make its PC and tablet-making partners unhappy," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at the technology consultants Gartner.

She added that the firm appeared to have focused on a specific part of the market which wanted a more powerful device than the iPad.

"They seem to be be targeting a professional audience," she said.

"So they are going head-to-head with Apple within the corporate sector. Price will be key - these devices won't be at the bottom end of the market. They will probably let other manufacturers fight over that space."

By contrast the tech research firm Forrester said it thought the focus for ARM-based Surface tablets would be consumers, rather than the enterprise sector.

But one of its analysts warned there was a risk customers would shy away if they found it confusing distinguishing between the two types of Windows 8 experience. This will be the first time Microsoft will offer a version of its PC system designed for chips based on ARM's architecture.

"Microsoft will be its own worst enemy in this market," blogged Sarah Rotman Epps.

"Consumers aren't used to thinking about chipsets. Choice is a key tenet of Windows, but too much choice is overwhelming for consumers. Apple gets this, and limits iPad options to connectivity, storage, and black… or white."




Mr Ballmer described Surface as "a whole new community of computing devices"

"Microsoft will be its own worst enemy in this market"


"Consumers aren't used to thinking about chipsets. Choice is a key tenet of Windows, but too much choice is overwhelming for consumers. Apple gets this, and limits iPad options to connectivity, storage, and black… or white."

ARM's ambitions

Despite the potential for confusion, British chip designer ARM said it was "excited" by the news.

The firm's designs have already proved popular with smartphone makers, but Microsoft's support for its technology in Windows 8 offers it the potential to expand into a market dominated until now by Intel and AMD.

"This represents a significant milestone in Microsoft's journey to expand the support of the Windows operating system and embrace the ARM architecture," said Lance Howarth, the firm's vice president of marketing.

"With the Surface for Windows RT announcement we are delighted to see yet another example of this partnership in action which follows on from various Windows RT devices demonstrated at Taiwan's Computex show recently."

Intel said it was also "pleased" about Microsoft's move.

"Intel believes in and supports an open and healthy ecosystem that delivers a broad scale of innovation and choice in solutions and user experiences," a statement said.

"We also believe Windows 8 on Intel architecture will deliver the most complete experience with the best performance and compatibility across all computing platforms."


NB
Targeting tablets

When Apple unveiled the iPad in 2010 some tech watchers scoffed, dubbing the device a "giant iPod Touch" and questioning whether there was really a market for the product, bearing in mind others had tried and failed to sell sizeable numbers of tablets.

Fast-forward two years and there is no question there is demand for such devices.

Tech research firm IDC recently forecast 107.4 million tablets would be shipped this year with the number growing to 222.1 million by 2016.

It expects Apple's iPad to account for about 62.5% of the market this year with Android devices such as Amazon's Kindle Fire taking a 36.5% share.

IDC does not yet include Windows-based tablets in its market forecasts, but plans to start doing so from July.

It says it does not necessarily believe Windows-based tablets like the Surface will take marketshare from Apple and Android, but says they should grow the overall market for such products.

continued....
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Old 21-06-12, 00:12   #2
 
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Default Re: PHOTOS -Microsoft New Tablet-For Windows 8

Microsoft's Surface: Technology Experts' Reactions



Many analysts agree that the product is nice, but it remains to be seen how well it will be received by consumers

As Microsoft announces a new tablet, technology experts offer their first impressions of the device, as well as insights into what the product could mean for Microsoft and its rivals.
The BBC has compiled a round-up of what some of them are saying.


Dan Farber, CNET

Microsoft has more than 90% market share of desktops, compared with 6% for Apple.
But in the mobile world, the roles are reversed. Microsoft is barely a blip on the mobile scene, while Apple and Google are running away with the fast-growing market. The number of mobile internet users is expected to exceed desktop internet users beginning in 2014, according to ComScore.
Microsoft got the message in introducing the Surface line of mobile devices, taking a page from Apple's total-control product strategy and its own Apple-like approach to the Xbox over the last decade.

Melissa J Perenson, PC World

“Start Quote
Microsoft's intent with the Surface tablets is to create hardware that puts the software front and centre”
End Quote

Peter Bright Arstechnica

Microsoft's introduction of its Surface tablet engendered buzz like no other we've seen from Microsoft. The big question is, does it stand up to the hype? The answer, succinctly, is yes.
After the event, attendees got a brief audience with the Surface (the second Microsoft product to get that name; prior to today, "Surface" referred to Microsoft's table-top touchscreen computer experience). I saw it up-close, and in limited action, and was very impressed with what I saw.
For starters, Microsoft truly has paid close attention to the details. This tablet is one of the few with a full-sized USB port - and thank goodness for that. The Windows RT version of Surface has USB 2.0, with USB 3.0 on the Windows 8 Professional version.

Erik Sherman CBS News

The pressure is on Microsoft to deliver, for the first time, a computer under its own brand, rather than software running on another company's hardware. To that end, the software giant is promising a device that could potentially win favour among some users, although full specs aren't yet available, let alone hands-on reviews. A 10.6-inch-wide display will support widescreen HD video, although probably not at the ultra-high resolution of the iPad's Retina display.

Dina Bass, Andy Fixmer and Cliff Edwards, Bloomberg

Microsoft's entry into the tablet market also comes as challengers such as Hewlett-Packard and RIM have failed to derail Apple's dominance with their own tablets. The worldwide tablet market is estimated to reach $79bn this year, according to research firm DisplaySearch.
Microsoft is also teaming up with PC makers like Acer, Toshiba and Asustek to build tablets with Windows 8, which will be called Windows RT for versions running on ARM-based chips.
Working with partners is Microsoft's more traditional way of operating. Apple's success with the iPad may be pushing the company to seek greater control over the hardware design so it works seamlessly with the software, like Apple does.

Peter Bright, Arstechnica

“Start Quote
If there's one thing that Microsoft could learn from Apple, it is "announce and ship"”
End Quote

Brad McCarty The Next Web

Microsoft's intent with the Surface tablets is to create hardware that puts the software front and centre, to provide the hardware necessary to allow Windows 8's strengths to really come to the foreground. At the launch event, however, the software took the back seat. This was all about the hardware, and with good reason.
The Surface tablets are smart, good-looking, carefully considered, well-built, slick pieces of kit and there's nothing even close on the market today. Of course, they're not on the market today either, but unless the PC OEMs inject a serious dose of quality in their build and design processes, the Surface units will stand alone when they eventually go on sale.
What makes Surface special is the attention to detail. The standard of the fit and finish of the prototypes on display was extremely high. The shell of the Surface is made of cast magnesium, with a vapor-deposited finish called VaporMg. The result is an attractive, scratch-resistant finish that's easy to grip and comfortable to hold.

Brad McCarty, The Next Web

You could say that it's a direct competitor to the iPad, and you'd be right. But you'd also be right to say that it's a competitor to the MacBook Air. This is a laptop, every bit as much as it's a tablet. The detachable keyboard cover is slick, and if it works as good as it looks, it's a no-brainer to take it with you everywhere.
So if the device is nice, and has huge potential in the market, where did Microsoft go wrong? Let's talk about it, starting with the fact that there's no availability.

If there's one thing that Microsoft could learn from Apple, it is "announce and ship". Today we saw the Surface. When can we buy it? The only thing we know is that it will be available in conjunction with the release of Windows 8: That is to say, 'not today'.
We also don't know the price. We have a range, but not even a solid one. The RT model will be priced in line with other ARM-based tablets, and the Pro version will hit the range of "Intel-based Ultrabooks". In case you've not been following along, Ultrabooks have a price range from somewhere around $500 (£320) to upwards of $1,200 (£766), depending on the model. You simply can't be that vague with a device that holds such an iconic potential.

To make matters worse, the device is either a Surface or a Surface Pro. The former being the Windows RT version (read: stripped-down, cheaper) and the latter being the Windows 8 device. Nomenclature is important - and Microsoft sorely missed the boat here.
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