Microsoft Joins the Tablet Market

At a conference held in Hollywood, the computing giant introduced its newest stars.

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It has been a several months since Microsoft announced that its newest version of Windows, aptly titled Windows 8, would feature an interface more akin to what users are used to seeing on their smartphones than their PC’s. It has been even longer since Apple kicked off the tablet craze with its first iPad, but this week Microsoft has announced it will be joining in on the portable fun.

The Surface—a name repurposed from a much larger foray into touch screen technology, now redubbed PixelSense—will mark the company’s first attempt at manufacturing a device in the frame we now expect when we hear the word “tablet.” Promising a 16:9 aspect ratio and 1080p video capabilities, the screen will no doubt satisfy the eyes of anyone looking for an HD-quality device (even if it doesn’t quite match up to Apple’s newest retina displays), which may make it ideal for anyone looking for a portable video player, as the Surface will also include a built in kickstand to prop it up for hands-free viewing.

Arriving in two distinct versions, Surface will first hit store shelves around the same time as the official launch of Windows 8. This initial tablet will run on Windows RT, an OS which should prove similar to Windows 8, but will be a little more limited in scope with a focus on “metro apps” in the vein of what can currently be seen on iPad and Android devices. Roughly three months later, the Windows 8 Pro version will launch with a stronger processor and, as the name implies, come equipped with the same version of Windows 8 available to laptops and desktops.  Though many of the details of both models remain unrevealed, Microsoft has said its Windows 8 Pro Surface will be comparable to the premium line of Windows laptops known as Ultrabooks.

For those looking to make a more serious computer of their tablet, Microsoft has also designed two protective covers which double as physical keyboards when opened. The 3 mm thin Touch Cover will use pressure sensitive keys along its flat surface, while the 5 mm Type Cover will bear more traditional physical keys. Utilizing the keyboard options and built-in kickstand, the Surface for Windows 8 Pro could seamlessly transition from tablet to fully functioning laptop and back on the whim of its user.

Thinking of picking up a tablet in the near future? Tell us what you think of the Surface on the Long Island Lounge.