Microsoft Surface: Rumour round-up

By Hannah Braime,

The tech world is buzzing with whispers about Microsoft’s first tablet release: the Microsoft Surface. The software giant has taken its time developing a contribution to the competitive market, but that’s only fueled the rife speculation surrounding the device, its features, its pricing, and its launch date.

Microsoft Surface

Microsoft gave consumers a glimpse of the Surface back in June, when it revealed that the tablet would run on the Windows 8 operating system. The company haven’t yet made any official announcements about the tablet yet beyond its release date, but have let slip snippets of information that have raised more questions than they’ve answered.

Features

Initial feature rumours surround the Surface’s connectivity. Bloomberg reported that the Surface will only be able to go online using a short-range wifi connection. This is a stark contrast to the Apple iPad 3, that has a 3G option, and a faster LTE connection.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Ben Bajarin, an analyst at technology consulting firm Creative Strategies, remarked that the wifi-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.

Another talking point is the Surface’s battery life. Online tech magazine Computerworld ran some calculations and estimated that the battery capacity was around 25% less than that of Apple’s iPad 3.

Pricing

According to Digitimes, the Surface will have two-tiered pricing. The Windows RT-based model will set you back around $600 dollars, while the Windows 8 Pro-based Surface could be a palpitation-inducing $800. It’s worth noting that these initial pricing rumours set the Surface as a more expensive competitor to the iPad 3, whose retail price starts at $499.

Launch

Microsoft have announced that the Surface launch will coincide with the release of Windows 8 on 26th October.

Follow-Up

Early August saw further rumours surrounding Microsoft’s tablet ventures. This time, the rumours weren’t so focused on the Surface but on its successor. According to the International Business Times, a not-so-cryptic job advertisement posted in Microsoft’s careers section suggested the company are 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.”

  • Howard Abraham

    What about the Engadget rumor that the MS Surface will start at $199? Given that four SQUs were announced, I don’t think there are only two tiers of pricing anyway. I am also not convinced that the Surface will be limited to WiFi. Windows 8 supports SMS out of the box. If the MS Surface is to be considered a reference design, you could speculate that 3G/4G data is integrated, yet unannounced. ExtremeTech disagrees with the ComputerWorld analysis regarding battery life. “On the battery life side of things, the incoming Windows RT devices have battery capacities ranging from 25 to 42 watt-hours. These will provide between 8 and 13 hours of HD video playback, and between 320 and 409 hours of connected standby. Connected standby is a new low-power state that allows Windows 8 devices to occasionally connect to the internet and download the latest email/tweets/FB status updates, without significantly hitting battery life. These battery-life figures are in-line with the iPad, which is a good sign.” Lastly, there has been no official announcement for release date. They filed an FCC notice that stated it would be near the time of the Win8 launch. I suspect they will hold off until the first day of the BUILD conference, which is 10/30.