Microsoft Surface tablets unveiled with screen cover that doubles as keyboard

Microsoft Surface tablet with cover keyboard

Microsoft is getting into the hardware business in a big way. In a press conference moments ago, Microsoft unveiled two “Microsoft Surface” Windows touch tablets built and designed by Microsoft itself. The new tablet appears to be thin, lightweight, has two cameras, and most of the perks you’d expect in an iPad-like tablet, but it comes with two big surprises: a pull-out kickstand to prop itself up and a screen cover that doubles as a keyboard.

“What is it? It’s something new. Something different. A whole new family of computing devices from Microsoft,” said Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky. “Surface is a stage for Windows.”

The rumor mill has been running wild since Microsoft hastily threw this press conference together last Thursday. Almost every site believed Microsoft was going to announce a tablet today, but the rumors break down after that. Some believed Xbox or SmartGlass would be involved, while others thought Barnes & Noble might be the manufacturer of a tablet-like device of some kind. It doesn’t appear that anybody realized Microsoft had innovated in the keyboard space.

View pictures of the new Microsoft Surface tablets

Microsoft Surface specs

There are two models, currently. One runs Windows RT (ARM processor) and the other runs Windows 8 Pro (Intel processor, backward compatible with Windows 7 applications). The specs are below.

Microsoft Surface tablet specs

The new tablets will be between 9.3 and 13.5mm — depending on which model you go for — has a 10.6-inch 16:9 touchscreen with a 720p or 1080p pixel resolution, Gorilla Glass, Microsoft Office, a full-size USB port, and even has a magnetic stylus that sticks to the device.

The pro version will run on Intel Ivy Bridge processors and come with 64GB or 128GB of internal storage. The ARM version will run on a Nvidia processor. 

The Touch Cover

The touch cover has two models: one that is 3mm thick and another that is a bit thicker. It connects to the tablet via Bluetooth and has a built-in accelerometer so that it somehow knows when it is opened as a keyboard and when it’s being used as a cover, presumably to save battery life — yes, your Touch Cover will have a battery.

We’re excited

This is odd news since Microsoft is now putting itself in competition with its own hardware manufacturers — something that it has previously said it would not do. With that said, Microsoft is hardly the first operating system creator to venture into hardware. It has already done so quite successfully with the Xbox and somewhat unsuccessfully with the Zune. Apple makes a living out of tightly pairing its hardware and software, while newer rival Google has partnered with select hardware makers for all of its new OS versions and recently purchased Motorola with the intention of getting into the hardware game. Even Microsoft signed a deal with Nokia last year which makes Nokia the preferred vendor of Windows Phone devices.

Will companies like Toshiba, Acer, Samsung, Asus, HP, and others be upset by this news? Will they all start secretly developing their own operating systems? Only time will tell, but it is definitely important for Microsoft that the Windows 8 launch performs smoothly and excites people. It’s livelihood is riding on this release — a fact that couldn’t be more evident after seeing the Microsoft Surface.

When is it coming?

Unfortunately, we don’t yet know when these tablets will launch, where you’ll be able to buy them, or how much they’ll cost. The Windows RT version will come out when Windows 8 launches, but the Pro version won’t be released until 3 months after the launch later this year, likely putting it into early 2013.

Product Review

Don't bother with any other 2-in-1. The Surface Pro 6 is still the best

The Surface Pro been updated to its sixth generation, now coming dressed in black and packing a quad-core processor. Outside of that, you’ll have to dig a little deeper to see where Microsoft has made some truly noteworthy improvements.
Computing

A ThinkPad tablet with a foldable screen could be in Lenovo’s future

Lenovo may be working on its own version of Project Andromeda. The company is reportedly working on a 13-inch tablet that can fold down to just nine inches for travel by leveraging LG Display's foldable screen technology.
Computing

Problems with Microsoft’s Windows October 2018 Update aren’t over yet

Microsoft's Windows 10 October 2018 update is not having a great launch. More than two weeks after its debut and Microsoft is still putting out fires as new bugs are discovered and there's no sign of its re-release as of yet.
Computing

Is the new Surface Pro 6 worth the extra money or is the Surface Go good enough?

Each of Microsoft’s Surface devices are great, but with the recent addition of the Surface Pro 6, you might be wondering how it stacks up against the Surface Go. In this comparison piece, we’ve put the two devices up against each other…
Computing

Google Chrome 70 is finally getting a picture-in-picture mode

Picture-in-picture mode is finally coming to Google Chrome 70 on Mac, Linux, and Windows. The feature not only applies to YouTube but also any other website where developers have chosen to implement it.
Computing

Intel's 9th-gen chips could power your next rig. Here's what you need to know

The Intel Core i9-9900K processor was the star of the show for consumers, but a powerful 28-core Xeon processor also led announcements. Here's everything you need to know about the latest Intel chipsets.
Computing

Despite serious security flaws, D-Link will (again) not patch some routers

D-Link revealed that it won't patch six router models despite warnings raised by a security researcher. The manufacturer, for the second time in a span of about a year, cited end-of-life policies for its decision to not act.
Computing

Core i9s and Threadrippers are all powerful, but should you go AMD or Intel?

The battle for the top prosumer CPUs in the world is on. In this head to head, we pit the Core i9 versus the Threadripper to see which is the best when it comes to maximizing multi-core performance on a single chip.
Computing

Apple’s latest feature ensures MacOS apps are safer than ever

MacOS is mythically known for being more immune to viruses than Windows, but that doesn't mean there isn't room to make it safer. Apple is using an app notarization feature to protect users from downloading malicious apps.
Computing

There’s now proof that quantum computing is superior to the classical variety

For the first time in computer science history, researchers have tangibly demonstrated how a quantum computer is better than a classical computer. A quantum computer was able to solve a math problem that a classical PC cannot.
Computing

In 2018, the rivalry between AMD and Intel has become more interesting than ever

When it comes to selecting a CPU for your PC, there's no shortage of chips for you to choose from. With Ryzen, Threadripper, and Core i9 CPUs though, the AMD vs. Intel argument is muddier than ever.
Computing

Will Apple introduce a new MacBook at its Oct. 30 event? Here's everything we know

Whether it's called the MacBook Air or just the MacBook, Apple is highly rumored to introduce a new, affordable laptop in 2018. We discuss reports about upgrading displays, processors, sign-in features, and more.
Computing

Apple CEO demands Bloomberg retract its Chinese surveillance story

Apple CEO Tim Cook is calling on Bloomberg to retract a story alleging that Apple had purchased compromised servers that allowed the Chinese government to spy on Apple. Apple's investigation found no truth to the story.
Product Review

Dell’s G3 Gaming laptop knows what gamers want, and what they can live without

Compromise and budget gaming laptops go hand-in-hand, but with the G3, Dell has figured out how to balance what gamers want with what they can live without.