Over the weekend Microsoft announced it would make an announcement on Monday. This morning they announced it would be a major announcement: an event in Hollywood this afternoon on the West Coast – after business hours on the East Coast. This sent the internet tech blogsphere and Wall Street analysts into a day-long tizzy and guessing game. What it might be? Then Microsoft was nearly an hour late to start its event (I had to say that). The media hype leading up, and the drum roll while waiting for the late start, was really over the top. So I’ll tell you the news in paragraph two…

Steve Ballmer, CEO, and today’s Master of Ceremonies, led the announcement of the Microsoft Surface Tablet. As tablets go – this has a display over 10-inches, is thin, lightweight, and has a cool-looking keyboard for a cover. There will be two models: Windows RT, and Windows 8 Professional.

Here are some bullet points that came out during the live blogging of the event:

The low-end Surface Tablet model:

  • Windows RT operating system
  • Weights 676 grams
  • Thickness, or should I say “thinness”, is only 9.3 mm (um less than half and inch!) – but not including the cover
  • 10.6″ ClearType HD Display
  • Office Home and Student 2013 RT,
  • The magnetically attached and detachable cover functions as both Touch and Type keyboard, only 3.5 mm thin.
  • External case is some magic (i.e. patented) “VaporMg” Case and Stand, which enables propping up the tablet for viewing.
  • Storage at 32GB and 64 GB.
  • ports for microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD video, 2x@ MIMO antenna, WiFI.

The Windows 8 Pro version will use the Windows 8 operating system, has “Ivy Bridge processors from Intel”, and presumably will use a better version of MS Office.

The event presenters just love the cover doubling as a keyboard, and feel of the VaporMg. Hence the name, “Surface Tablet.”

With all the talk today about the Surface’s cool design, not much if anything was said about the software user interface. At the end of the day, the verdict will rest on the need for, usability of, and satisfaction with Windows RT or 8.

As of my press time, I didn’t hear about pricing. I can update this story when I find out the pricing. And the release date, nothing exact, but soon – along with Windows 8, and it better be sooner than the Apple IOS 6 and iPhone 5 or else Microsoft’s goose is cooked.

It was long rumored that MS would manufacture or have a joint venture to manufacture a Tablet to compete with iPad, or a phone to compete with iPhone. Microsoft is known as a software company, despite the success of the Xbox. Some said the move by Microsoft was absolutely necessary today, if not yesterday, because as the PC business moves to mobile and cloud computing Microsoft was losing ground to Apple and Google. Another rumor was a future killer Xbox for our living room to integrate all our entertainment.

The first part of Monday’s 7:15 p.m. “Live from Hollywood” event only scratched the surface and left us with questions about price, applications, availability, and viability. Stay tuned.

About The Author

Sandra Giger is a Blast correspondent

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