Microflops: Microsoft Surface RT and 8 tablets

In an attempt to build up hype, Microsoft had a Mystery Announcement! In the event, we saw Microsoft-branded Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets that had neither prices nor shipping dates. Apple is not shaking in its boots.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft builds its own Windows 8 and RT tablets: Surface.

Microsoft builds its own Windows 8 and RT tablets: Surface.

Here's the best part of Microsoft's lame attempt to surprise us with a significant announcement:

Windows Embedded, Drone Edition IPad for Xbox Clippy for Metro Minesweeper 2013 Windows Vista 8 Metro Edition Microsoft Works for Blackberry 10 Vista, Second Edition

Those are among the names that the bored tech press came up with for Microsoft's new product on Twitter while we were waiting for Microsoft to get its act together and make its announcement.

In the Los Angles-based event, Steve Ballmer announced Microsoft is selling a Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets, the re-branded Microsoft Surface. It's a 10.6-inch—about an inch bigger than an iPad--tablet with a keyboard and touchpad on its built-in cover.

That sounds cool, but I really wonder just how sturdy it can be in real life. In addition, I've seen hybrid laptop and tablet before and I'm still waiting for one that actually delivers. One thing I will note to its credit is that Microsoft promises that it will work with both a stylus, for fine detail work, and with your finger when you're trying to use the Windows 8 klutzy Metro's interface.

The Windows 8 model, which runs a 3rd generation Core i5 (Ivy Bridge) is a cross between an ultrabook and a tablet. The Windows RT model uses, of course, an ARM processor. For a display, Microsoft is offering something it calls ClearType HD. This is meant, of course, to compete with Apple's Retina Display. The RT tablet will come with 32 to 64GBs of storage, while the Windows 8 version will come in 64 and 128GB models. Battery life? We don't have a clue yet.

Microsoft fans say the the new Surface units are like a combination MacBook Air and iPad. I say it's Microsoft desperately trying to pull attention away from Apple's products. Lots of luck with that guys.

I also must note that in two ways this was a very typical Microsoft vaporware announcement: promise the world but don't mention when it will be available or what it will cost.

How vapor is it? During the demo to the hand-picked press and employee audience, the demo tablet crashed when Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows division tried to run a Netflix application.

Others agree, Surface is a blunder

While Microsoft refused to announce any pricing, the company did say it would be competitive with comparable ARM tab/Intel Ultrabook-class PC. That would put the RT device at about $500 and the Ultrabook at around $900.

This make me wonder what Microsoft's original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners are going to think about this? If I were Dell, HP, et. al., I wouldn't be one bit happy. As for Apple and the Android vendors, I wouldn't be in the least bit worried.

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