Microsoft held a mystery press conference in Los Angeles today, one in which no solid information was announced ahead of time. Plenty of speculation flew, from a Windows 8 tablet to a partnership with Barnes & Noble to make an Amazon Kindle Fire competitor to even an Xbox tablet. See the trend with the tablets? Well, there was good reason for that as Microsoft has announced the new Microsoft Surface - a tablet that Microsoft calls a "stage for Windows." This new Surface is a tablet optimized for Windows 8, which Microsoft wants in order to show the potential of the new OS. The Surface features a 10.6" optically bonded screen, weighs under 1.5 pounds, and is only 9.3mm thin - just enough for a full-size USB port. There is also a microSD slot and an HDMI port and DisplayPort to connect to bigger monitors.
The new Surface has a magnesium case for durability, plus a Corning Gorilla Glass 2 screen to ensure nothing could happen to it. There is a 0.7mm thick kickstand integrated directly into the back of the tablet because Microsoft has designed the Surface to be for entertainment. There are front and rear-facing cameras on the Surface, with the front angled at 22 degrees for the best view when using the kickstand. All the standard Windows apps will appear, plus ones for Netflix, Xbox, and more. The Surface features a 3mm thick Touch Cover that reveals a multitouch keyboard and trackpad, so when it is on a table it will act like a laptop. There is also a version with tactile keys (Surface Type Cover) for those who prefer it, with 1.5mm of travel for each key. There will be a variety of colors for the covers as well, though in the images below the black one is the Type Cover.
As for that 10.6" screen, it is a Clear Type Full HD display. It supports digital ink and when you use the stylus, your hand resting on the screen will be ignored. The ink itself is displayed at 600ppi, so it looks like actual writing even though it is digital.
The best part about the Surface is there will be two versions: one using an ARM processor and one using an Intel processor for x86. The ARM processor will be supplied by NVIDIA, which is the tablet being shown, while the Intel version uses a Core i5 Ivy Bridge CPU. The Intel one will keep the overall weight of the Surface under two pounds, so you are not sacrificing a whole lot for the stronger chip. The ARM version is using Windows RT (formerly Windows for ARM) while the Intel one has Windows 8 Pro powering it.
The Surface with Windows RT will be available in 32 and 64GB sizes, while the one with Windows 8 Pro will come in 64 and 128GB sizes. The Windows RT version will be released around the time Windows 8 launches and is priced to compete with similar ARM-powered tablets. The Windows 8 Pro Surface will come out about three months later and is priced to compete with Ultrabooks. Microsoft is calling the new Surface a PC, a tablet, and something it thinks people will love. It certainly looks interesting, but we will have to see how it all plays out. Feel free to discuss the new Surface below or in the forums.