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Microsoft Bows 'Surface' Tablet

18 Jun, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Tablet comes with Netflix streaming functionality

Microsoft June 18 announced the launch of a tablet computer called the "Surface," during a secretive press conference at the Milk Studio in Los Angeles.

Taking a page from Apple’s hardware unveilings, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer — accompanied by techno music — gave a brief rundown of the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant’s history followed by the introduction of the Surface.

The tablet is 9.3mm thin, weighs 1.5 pounds in a magnesium case, includes a USB 2.0 port with 10.6-inch display. The display uses Corning Gorilla Glass 2.0.

In addition to playing any video game purchased from the Windows Store, the Surface features a Netflix app. The Netflix app will have semantic zoom, with the vertical layers of content available in Windows 8 app design. The tablet will come in two models, with one using the Windows RT operating system in either 32GB or 64GB sizes; and the Windows 8 Pro in either 64GB or 128GB sizes. 

The Surface is available in five colors and features an internal stand with a detachable cover featuring a 3mm thick multi-touch keyboard — a first for the tablet market. The device includes a Micro SD card input, 16:9 widescreen high definition display that Microsoft claims can be adjusted for indoor or outdoor use.

"It's a whole new family of computing devices for Microsoft," Ballmer told media representatives.

Interestingly, other than the Xbox, Microsoft has a checkered history launching hardware devices, including the ill-fated Zune music player. 

The Apple iPad continues to dominate the tablet market with 70% market penetration, according to research firm IDC. Amazon's Kindle Fire briefly put a ding into iPad sales during the winter holidays, but had about 4% of tablet sales in the first quarter. 

There was no mention of Surface's retail price (speculated to mirror the SRP of an Ultrabook) or availability to the consumer. More importantly, Microsoft shed no insight on Surface's streaming prowess for music, movies and TV programming from Xbox Live and/or third party sources.

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