Hand it to Microsoft, the normally stiff-necked company got representatives of the press to line up and wait eagerly for a product announcement. Two new Surface tablets were shown, albeit briefly, and left some definite impressions. What little I saw of the new tablets from afar made it clear that Microsoft made them for me.
Colleague Ed Bott attended the Microsoft unveiling and has some wonderfully detailed impressions of the new Surface tablets. He also has some big questions for Microsoft about them that are worth a read.
The business situation aside, primarily how will WIndows PC makers react to direct competition from Microsoft, my impressions of the tablets have me excited and anxious to get one.
I have detailed how useful a tablet with a decent keyboard attachment can be for me in my work. Microsoft must have paid attention as the two new keyboard covers are well designed for my purposes. I'm not convinced the Touch cover will work given it's pseudo keys, although attendees of the event assure me it works just fine. The Type cover on the other hand looks perfect, a thin cover with real keys for a touch typist.
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The engineering and design of the two Surface tablets look magnificent, as Microsoft obviously felt the need to go big or go home with its own hardware. The tablets look like nothing on the market, and a good platform for running Windows 8/Windows RT.
My biggest interest is in the Windows RT model, as I think it has the potential to create a splash in the big tablet market. Unfortunately Microsoft didn't divulge a few key pieces of information that will affect that potential. We don't know how much these new tablets will cost, when they will ship, and how long they will run in the real world on a single charge.
If those three things end up being good news, the Surface tablets may make a splash in a crowded market. So far Microsoft has accomplished what it set out to do, but it needs to get them on the market quickly. HP made a huge mistake of announcing the TouchPad tablet too long before availability, and the big excitement created at launch was completely gone by ship date.