Microsoft Surface Tablets available tomorrow!

Microsoft Surface TabletIf you have been following the story about the new tablet computers made by Microsoft called ‘Surface’ here’s the details on dates and pricing for Australian customers.

Microsoft will have three different Surface versions available tomorrow. They will all run Windows ‘RT’ (more on what that means later) – a 32GB version for $559, a 32GB version bundled with a black Touch Cover for $679 and a 64GB version with a black Touch Cover which will be priced at $789.Touch Covers will cost $139.99 separately, or you can pick up a the more laptop-like Type Cover for $149.99 that has real keys that move (unlike the touch covers).

Surface tablets will not be available in stores however. As has been suspected for a while, you’ll be able to buy the Surface online at Surface.com. There is more pre-order information shown there, but pre-orders are limited, and the device goes on sale tomorrow (October 26).

Later in the year (no release date has been set as yet, but it is expected they will be available within 3 months or so) the the high end Surface Pro tablets will be released. These tablets will run Windows 8 not Windows RT. Confused? Let’s go into this important aspect of Microsoft’s new tablets.

The RT Surface tablets are intended to be direct competition for the iPad and Android tablets, so attributes like long battery life, easy installation of ‘apps’ from an online store etc are important. The Surface Pro tablets however are intended to be targeted at business users as an alternative to laptops running Windows 8.

This is an important difference and buyers should be made aware (Microsoft is apparently spending a billion dollars promoting Surface so they should make the differences very clear) that the RT tablets will not run any software that is designed to run on Windows 8. This of course includes any software that will run on older Windows versions either. They will however come with Office 2013 Student RT included in the price, so they can be used to create and edit Office documents. Apps are available for many of the popular uses that tablets are so handy for – Skype, Calendars, Notetaking, Messaging etc but there are some glaring omissions at the moment like a Twitter app for instance.

Apps for Surface RT will be available to install from the Microsoft Store – some free some not – but the number is not that great yet. Developers will produce apps of course once there is a market for them, but it’s unknown how well Surface will sell. Pricing is competitive with the iPad 3 which sells for $649 for the 32Gb WiFi only model. Adding the cover/keyboard to the Surface (it can be used without it of course, but most users would want one I would think) brings it to $679 though which will buy you a 16Gb iPad 3 with 3G (so it can be used anywhere). Checkout the annoying Surface animated GIF below for an idea of the size of the tablets and to see more visit the Microsoft Surface website.

Another type of tablet? I reckon competition is a good thing so I’m all for it. Would I buy one now? Nope. We’ve been bitten too many times by Microsoft ‘flops’. Remember Windows ME and Vista….

Surface Animated GIF

 

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