Microsoft Surface Tablet Release Date: 'Future of the Company' Says CEO Steve Ballmer
With all the hoopla surrounding Apple right now, it's easy to forget there are other innovative companies out there. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer wants to change that. And just how is he going to do that? Microsoft's new Surface tablet.
Ballmer says the future of Microsoft is in hardware like its Surface tablet, telling the Seattle Times that within five to ten years Microsoft will be a "devices-and-services" enterprise. "First of all, I'd say: pre-eminent technology company," said Ballmer of Microsoft's future. "I think that in a back-looking view, people would say we were a software company. That's kind of how we were born."
Like Us on Facebook
Microsoft becoming more of a hardware company shouldn't be a surprise. It's long dabbled in many products like keyboards, and mouses, and its Xbox 360, and Kinect have been huge successes, not to mention big money-makers as well. Also, there's no doubt that Ballmer has been eying Apple's spectacular success in selling hardware, and hoping that Microsoft can replicate some of that. With that in mind, Microsoft's Windows 8 Surface tablets can be seen as a test case for Microsoft, learning how to sell its own branded hardware while competing with its hardware partners.
"I think when you look forward, our core capability will be software, (but) you'll probably think of us more as a devices-and-services company, which is a little different," said Ballmer. "Software powers devices and software powers these cloud services, but it's a different form of delivery..."
"Doesn't mean we have to make every device -- I don't want you to leap to that conclusion. We'll have partners who make devices with our software in it and our services built in. We're going to be a leader at that."
Microsoft Surface features
Both models sport 10.6-inch Clear type Full HD displays with 16:9 widescreen. That means they are among the biggest tablets in the market. If you are not satisfied with the typical 10.1-inch tablet, you can go for the Surface tablet. Along with the touch keyboards with the device, you can turn the machine to a small notebook.
The Surface tablet comes with five Touch Covers. Well, you can pick up any one while purchasing the machine. Different from typical keyboards, the Surface keypads provide brilliant typing experience thanks to their touch-based surface.
The Surface tablets mount both front and rear cameras, with flash. The front camera, named "life cam" by Microsoft, makes the tablet perfect for video chatting through Skype or other services. Using the rear camera, you can capture images and video clips.
Microsoft puts forward better memory options with the Surface tablets. The device comes in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB options. The 128GB is available only with Surface Pro. Further, you can expand the memory using external memory sticks thanks to microSD card slot. That is, you can store enough data including music, software items and video in external clips.
The 3mm Touch Cover features a revolutionary kickstand. Along with fully functioning keyboard and track-pad, the integrated kickstand helps you place the gadget in both portrait or landscape modes. The Touch Cover can be connected to your Surface tablet with a single magnetic click. Now you can easily type text and send messages quite easily.
The tablet is being touted as an "all-in-one" tablet.
CEO Ballmer said last month that Microsoft's new tablet could sully relationships with PC manufactures like Asus, Acer, and Dell, but Ballmer expects to sell millions of tablets after the Surface's debut in October.
Microsoft gave consumers a first glimpse of the Surface back in June, when it revealed that the tablet would run on the Windows 8 operating system. According to Bloomberg Surface will only be able to go online using a short-range Wi-Fi connection. This is a stark contrast to Apple's iPad 3, which has a 3G option, and a faster LTE connection.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Ben Bajarin, an analyst at technology consulting firm Creative Strategies, said that the Wi-Fi-only status could clash with Microsoft's marketing attempts. "The way that Microsoft is positioning this product - that it's highly mobile but also has the functionality of a notebook - that customer might be more interested in working from any location and not being bound by Wi-Fi," he said.
Early August saw further rumors surrounding Microsoft's tablet ventures. This time, the rumors weren't so focused on the Surface but on its successor. A job advertisement posted in Microsoft's careers section suggested the company is already working on the follow-up to the Surface.
"We are currently building the next generation of devices and Surface needs you! The Surface development team is seeking a talented senior engineer to work on our next generation Surface. You will be responsible for overall system design and system bring-up/ enablement. You will be a critical member of a team that includes firmware, electrical, software, design validation and mechanical engineers; together, you will bring next generation Surface to life."
Media tablets powered by new Microsoft operating systems Windows 8 and Windows RT will have an impact on the overall market - just not this year, according to market intelligence firm ABI Research.
Windows-based tablets will commence shipments at the end of October and capture an estimated 1.5% of total tablet shipments for 2012. Pricing for Windows tablets will be a key consideration for end-user adoption. If priced aggressively towards current Android tablets, Windows tablets could see 2013 shipments increase 10-fold year-over-year. But if they're priced like Apple's iPad offerings, Windows tablets may only double or triple shipments in 2013. Growth in the total available market is expected to come from businesses adopting tablets, which is expected to be a strong area for Windows 8.