Microsoft has unveiled its much anticipated answer to Apple's iPad, ‘Surface', and despite much industry cynicism to the company's entry into the tablet market, technology insiders are reporting positive things about the device, which could be seen as a serious contender to the iPad.
Apple currently dominate the tablet market, taking up a 68% share, and to date hasn't had any serious competition. The last real buzz about which company could prove a competitor to the iPad was surrounding Amazon's Kindle ‘Fire', which unlike its eReader predecessors, allows users to consume media such as video, music and surf the web and includes a touchscreen.
However, despite the initial rush to buy the Fire, sales have now slowed right down and the device is not proving to threaten Apple's position as leader in the tablet market, although it is expected to take a 36.5% slice of the tablet market this year. Surface will be touchscreen computers, which offer a choice of Intel (which run the Pro version of Windows 8), or ARM processors.
W8 is currently available for download in ‘preview' form and will be released for the consumer and business markets later this year. Surface will have 26.9cm displays and have magnesium cases, a first for tablets of any description. It is a little lighter than the new iPad and the chipset contained within the device are supplied by Nvidia.
Surface will also be capable of running older versions of software which was designed for Windows' earlier OS', although some apps may need to be updated. The tablet also can be expanded with a range of accessories such as keyboards, either flat or raised, a pen accessory.
"The ARM-based version will be available with either 32GB (gigabytes) or 64GB of storage. Microsoft said they would be priced at a similar rate to other tablets using the same type of processor built by other firms” the BBC reports.
The Intel version will have higher specifications, offering 64GB or 128GB storage and targeted more towards the business sector.
Industry experts who have reviewed the new tablet say that it looks good for Microsoft, although there remains some doubt as to whether it can be a real contender. However, Melissa J Perenson of PC World said that "Microsoft truly has paid close attention to the details. This tablet is one of the few with a full-sized USB port - and thank goodness for that. The Windows RT version of Surface has USB 2.0, with USB 3.0 on the Windows 8 Professional version”.
This is likely to sway some away from purchasing an iPad as many consumers have criticised the tablet for its lack of connectivity when it comes to removable devices.