Microsoft Surface

Surface

Announced yesterday evening in Los Angeles, Microsoft Surface has made quite an impact upon the technology community. The Verge has a brief hands-on preview of the Windows RT edition of the device:

Here it is, Microsoft Surface, the all new, Microsoft-made tablet. We just had our hands on the sleek new device, and we must say — it does feel incredibly well designed.

Microsoft is only showing off the Windows RT version of the Surface, which means ARM CPU and a thinner, 9.3mm form factor. The design and build of the tablets the company has here feel very polished, with tight, clean lines. The device was also surprisingly light, barely feeling like it reached the full 1.5 pounds Microsoft is quoting. The 10.6-inch, 16:9 display also looked crystal clear at a variety of angles. We tried out the kickstand and had some trouble popping it out of the back of the tablet — but apparently there’s a side cutaway which makes it easier to flip it out. Just as promised, it does close with a reassuring, expensive sounding click. The “VaporMg” finish on the case of the Surface feels like it’ll be easy to grip, although we do wonder if the edges will feel just a little sharp with extended use.

Yesterday evening, whilst driving around, I loosely followed Joshua Topolsky’s live-blog from my phone. Due to my dedication of only a portion of my attention, the most notable element of the presentation was — in my eyes — the artful introduction of innovative and well-designed responses to archaic and out-dated concepts. Gazing vapidly at the announcement of a kickstand and smart cover knock-off, I required only a moment or two to look back before each concept had been utterly refined, improved, and demonstrated in a wonderfully novel manner.

Whether it was the inclusion of a keyboard and trackpad within Surface’s magnetic cover, the implementation of liquid metal technologies, or the novel inclusion of a kickstand, Microsoft seems to have accomplished a great deal with its own tablet.

Most interesting of the entire affair are the far-reaching consequences for Microsoft’s well-entrenched third party manufacturers. Having lived upon Windows for decades, HP, Dell, and innumerable others have been abruptly outdone by the very hand that seeks to feed them. Evidently unhappy with the general state-of-affairs of Windows 8 tablet prototypes, Microsoft has seen fit to build its own, thereby utterly undercutting the relevance and ability of its partners.

And yet, for every positive gain, Microsoft has failed to share any details concerning availability or pricing. The reasons for such lapses are twofold: Google and Microsoft’s partners. Focusing upon the former, Google is expected to launch a 7-inch Nexus-branded tablet at Google I/O for a truly affordable price. Microsoft’s hurried approach to last night’s event is instantly reminiscent of Google’s rush to demonstrate its own mapping solution prior to Apple’s WWDC and boasts an inevitable pang of associative fear and desperation. Thus, in rushing the event, Microsoft has somewhat provided itself an upper-hand in the battle with Google, and reserves the right to name its own competitive price post-Google.

Secondly, concerning Microsoft’s partners, it is endlessly wise to avoid angering them any further in the build-up to the Windows 8 release. Having already shunned HTC and now announced its own competitive hardware, Microsoft has immediately endangered the adoption of Windows 8 for many partners. Considering the extensive overhaul of the UI, any lack of adoption could prove extraordinarily damaging to Microsoft’s long-term bottom line. Accordingly, by foregoing a pricing announcement, Microsoft has withheld some semblance of control for its partners. Keen not to woefully and embarrassingly undercut them, Microsoft has merely set the bar for quality and quieted down once more.

Now, with the media in a frenzy over the well-designed hardware, novel keyboard implementation, and an evidently resurgent design-centric Microsoft, the onus falls upon both Google and Microsoft’s own partners to produce a tablet solution measurably great for the tablet market. Express disappointment for Microsoft’s lack of specificity all you want, but its movements here are nothing short of logical and measured.

For the first time in years, I await a Microsoft hardware entry with cautious optimism, and curious intrigue. The Redmond-based giant appears to have taken stock in the modern computing marketplace, and has provided unique and innovative responses to contemporary questions and flaws. Cast aside any lingering negativity for the Microsoft of old, this is an entirely different company — one that is an exciting entity to behold.

For more information regarding Microsoft Surface, visit the official site here.