It’s too early to tell if Microsoft’s first tablet computers will be game-changing devices. But experts tell Consumers Digest that the tablets could become the first to create content as well as they consume it.
Microsoft introduced two versions of its Surface tablet June 18. The Surface Windows RT has an ARM-based processor and the Windows RT operating system. The Surface Windows 8 Pro has a third-generation Intel Core i5 processor and the Windows 8 Pro operating system.
However, Microsoft didn’t announce the pricing or when the tablet computers will arrive in stores.
Both versions of the Surface have a 10.6-inch touch-screen display, a flexible device cover that has a built-in physical keyboard, and a flip-out stand that props up the device. Both versions also have a full complement of Microsoft Office software, which means that it likely will be easier to create content with these devices than it is with other tablets, says technology analyst Craig Stice of market-research company IHS.
Although it’s unlikely that consumers will replace their primary notebook computer with a Surface, Stice says that its computerlike features could come in handy if you travel or if you work remotely.
The experts whom we interviewed believe that Microsoft will release the Surface around the same time that it starts to sell its new Windows 8 operating system, which is most likely in fall 2012. It’s possible that Microsoft is using the Surface to showcase the functionality of Windows 8 on tablets, says technology analyst Steve Baker of market-research company The NPD Group.
If the Surface tablets become popular, you likely will see other manufacturers create tablets that use the Windows 8 operating system, Stice says. We believe that this could be true particularly of manufacturers who already make other computer devices (such as desktop computers and notebook computers) that rely on Microsoft’s operating systems.
Stice believes that the Surface Windows RT will have a price that’s comparable with that of other tablets, which would mean $500–$800. He says the Surface Windows 8 Pro could start at $800, which is more in line with the price of ultrabook computers.
– K. Fanuko