Microsoft (finally) sets an NZ date for its Surface tablet
Microsoft has finally set a date for its Surface tablet to be released locally.
The Surface RT, which runs Windows RT ( a simplified version of Windows 8), will be available from $739 at JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman stores from Friday March 15 (the first generation of the Surface is wi-fi only, precluding the sort of phone company deals you see with Vodafone and the iPad).
The RT has a 10.6-inch screen, features a keyboad built into its cover, and comes with Office Home, including touch-enhanced versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote (see full specs here; note the US pricing you'll see on that official Surface page excludes state sales tax of up to 15%).
The more full-blooded Surface Pro, which runs Windows 8, will be released here "over the coming months."
The Surface RT was first released in the US in October last year; the Pro in February this year. The company says it has faced shortages.
It's the Surface Pro that has really caught NBR's eye.
The Pro is chunkier and heavier than other tablets (it weighs 907g to 652g for the heaviest iPad, itself no lightweight).
And Microsoft's Windows Store trails Apple's iTunes and Google Play in apps.
But the Pro's bulked up form factor allows it to sport similar hardware to a well-equipped laptop (see its full spes here) and run a the same version of Windows 8 you'd use on a desktop.
The result, as The Verge notes in an exhaustive review, is that you can seamlessly run PC software like Adobe Photoshop on the Surface Pro. Similarly with Office and Exchange, there's not compromise in format.
That means there's nothing to stop you as using the Surface Pro as both your tablet and - when docked to a keyboard and monitor at the office - your main Windows computer too.
In the fiercely competitive tablet market, that gives Microsoft a point of difference in its bid to chance down Apple and Android.
The Surface represents the first time Microsoft has made its own personal computing device (if you set aside the entertainment-focused Xbox). As such, it competes with Windows 8 tablets and hybrid tablet/laptop Widnows 8 devices made by the likes of Dell, HP, Acer, Samsung and Lenovo.
Microsoft is walking a delicate line.
The company wants to use the Surface to promote Windows in the tablet market, where the platform has yet to make serious progress (and where Samsung and now HP are also releasing devices based on Google's Android software). But at the same time, it doesn't want to alientate its hardware partners - which possibily helps to explain the softly-softly Surface release schedule.