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.
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.
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.