Earlier this week, Microsoft announced the pricing plans and opened pre-orders for its Surface tablet. The device had been unveiled during the summer, with an NVIDIA T30 quad-core processor, 2GBs of RAM, 32GB and 64GB storage options, a 10.6″ 1366 x 768 display, 720p rear and front cameras, a full-size USB 2.0, microSDXC card slot, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.
The Surface also has two significant features. First, it runs Windows RT, Microsoft’s stripped-down equivalent to Windows 8 which follows the tiles UI concept and can only install applications from the Windows Store. Second, it comes with a built-in kickstand and offers the option of buying a thin cover that doubles as a wireless keyboard, making it feel like a full fledged computer.
While most small Android tablets will target a different market than the Surface, the competition will be heated when it comes to bigger 10″ tablets. Both Asus’ Transformer Pad family and Samsung’s Galaxy Note family should be worried about this newcomer. As a matter of fact, Microsoft is about to flood the market with Windows 8 on the desktop, putting the tile environment on the forefront and leaving the old Start Menu as an optional switch. Buyers will become familiarized with Windows RT’s look and the Surface should appeal to them, as a full computer-like experience on a small portable device with no learning curve.
I’ve always joked that people who use Android on mobile are most likely Windows — and not Mac OS — users on a computer, which is largely true. That’s why I’m intrigued to see on which side of the balance the community will tip when it comes to tablets. Will it be Android because it’s better adapted to portable devices and lesser demanding specs? Or will it be Windows RT and the Surface because tablets should provide more continuity with the desktop?