Microsoft officials showed off "Surface 2.0" -- the new version of the company's multitouch tabletop -- at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) yesterday.
There were lots of tweets and relatively few details, but on January 6, Microsoft officials shared more specifics -- including the planned retail pricing -- $7,600, compared to the Surface 1.0 tabletop price of $12,000-plus.
Here are some answers to my Surface questions from Panos Panay, General Manager, Microsoft Surface.
Q: Is the new device called Surface 2.0? If not, what? A: What was shown on stage is Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface. (Me: On Microsoft's Web site, it also is referred to as Surface 2.0.)
Q: When will it ship? Geographically? Availability? A: The next version of Surface will ship later in 2011 in 23 countries around the world. In addition, we have committed customers which include: Red Bull, Royal Bank of Canada, Fuji Film, Dassault Aviation and Sheraton Hotels and Resorts
Q: Will Samsung be the only OEM for the next generation Surfaces? Or others to come? A: Currently we are working with Samsung. We wanted to make sure we got the product experience just right and chose to partner with Samsung specifically because of its strengths in LCD technology, hardware design and manufacturing, and worldwide marketing and sales of large format displays.
Q: Windows 7 is the OS and AMD is the CPU/GPU? A: This is correct. The product uses the embedded AMD Athlon II X2 Dual-Core Processor 2.9GHz paired with the AMD Radeon HD 6700M Series GPU featuring DirectX 11 support to deliver significant processing horsepower and outstanding graphics capability. (Me: To be specific, the OS is an embedded version of 64-bit Windows 7 Professional. The software for the unit also includes .Net 4.0, Windows Presentation Foundation 4.0, XNA Framework 4.0 and PowerShell. A Surface 2.0 Software Development Kit is coming later this year, according to Microsoft's Web site.)
Q: Dimensions? A: The entire product is 4” thin which includes the glass, PC and enclosure. Forty-inch full high-definition (HD) 1080p screen. The 40-inch screen enables unparalleled multi-user experiences in full HD 1080p, with a 16:9 aspect ratio and 1920x1080 resolution. Designed for commercial environments. The product is designed to meet the challenges of active usage in demanding locations such as retail, hospitality and education. (Me: From the brochure about the product: There are standard table legs available, or customers can design their own. The unit also is wall-mountable and/or can be used as a horizontal or vertical kiosk.)
Q: Whose technology is PixelSense? Did Microsoft buy it? A: No, we did not buy it. PixelSense is a Microsoft technology, as we have been working on this for years. It is a Microsoft trademark. PixelSense gives an LCD display the power to recognize fingers, hands and objects placed on the screen, including more than 50 simultaneous touch points. With PixelSense, pixels in the display see what’s touching the screen and that information is immediately processed and interpreted.
Q: Pricing? A: The manufacturer’s suggested price for Samsung SUR40 starts at $7,600 (U.S.).
OK, armchair pundits, partners and potential customers. What do you think? Is the Surface any more interesting to you than it was before?