×

Microsoft debuts new tablet: ‘Surface’

CEO Steve Ballmer shows off new hardware/software combo

Microsoft has entered the tablet race with Surface, a new suite of tablets unveiled at a press conference Monday in Hollywood.

While Surface will attempt to steal away market share from established tablets like Apple iPad and Amazon Kindle Fire, Microsoft sees it as a natural extension of the upcoming release of new versions of its operating system, Windows 8 and Windows RT.

CEO Steve Ballmer touted the new product as the ultimate merger of software and hardware. “Much like Windows 1.0 needed the mouse to complete the experience, we wanted to give Windows 8.0 its own hardware companion innovation,” he said.

Two separate models were showcased, including a built-in kickstand that allows the screen to stand up hands-free and a detachable cover equipped with a keyboard. The ultra-slim device is 9.3 millimeters thick.

Despite the Hollywood setting of the press conference, entertainment was not a big emphasis of Surface. Beyond passing remarks regarding viewers’ capability to use a variety of Windows apps to access gaming, video and music, little was said even about its highly anticipated integration with Microsoft Xbox video game console.

One exception was the inclusion of a Netflix app specially customized for Windows 8, the operating system behind Surface.

Pricing won’t be specified until closer to availability, but will be competitive with similar products on the market.

The Surface name isn’t new.

Microsoft already had spent years developing a large interactive tabletop screen called the Surface, which it had been showing off at the Consumer Electronics Show. The 40-inch HD touchscreen, that recognizes fingers, hands and objects placed on it, is designed to lay flat but can also be mounted on a wall.

Most recent version of the table device was said to be priced at $7,600. First version was $12,000.

Samsung was helping build the device, which companies like Red Bull, Royal Bank of Canada, Fuji Film and Sheraton Hotels and Resorts purchased for commercial use.

Xbox Live is believed to be accessible through Surface via the Xbox Companion App. And while other content apps weren’t specified in Microsoft’s presentation, any content brands available in Windows App Store should be on Surface as well.

Microsoft’s presentation just a few weeks ago at E3 was partly what fueled widespread speculation preceding Monday’s press conference that Xbox integration would be a focal point of the company’s table strategy. It was there that Microsoft introduced an application dubbed SmartGlass, enabling content producers to supply additional content to smartphones and tablets synchronized to programming playing on Xbox.

— Marc Graser contributed to this report

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Bristol, CT - March 13, 2017

    Mina Kimes Helps ESPN Kick Off 'Daily' Podcast

    Mina Kimes is preparing to take ESPN into a new frontier. The sports-media giant has launched a “SportsCenter” for Snapchat and tested baseball telecasts for kids. Now it’s hoping to set up shop in another media venue. Starting tomorrow, the Disney-backed company launches “ESPN Daily,” a weekday morning podcast that aims to tap its vast [...]

  • Neilsons Measurment Problems TV Digital

    AT&T's Ad-Tech Unit Xandr Buys Clypd To Help Place TV Commercials More Precisely

    Xandr, the AT&T ad-technology unit, has purchased a new company that helps advertisers use data to place commercials in front of the audiences most likely to want to watch them The AT&T division said Friday it had acquired clypd, a company that helps advertisers move forward in a growing desire by Madison Avenue to run [...]

  • AT&T Logo Building

    AT&T TV Now Price Hike Coming Next Month, Base Package to Cost $65

    AT&T is instituting a substantial price hike for its live TV streaming service AT&T TV Now: Customers who have subscribed to the service’s basic “Plus” package will see their bill go up by $15, to a total of $65 per month, starting next month. The telco has started to inform existing subscribers about the price [...]

  • Disney-Family-Movies

    Disney Family Movies SVOD Service Is Shutting Down Ahead of Disney Plus Debut

    After 11 years, Disney is pulling the plug on Disney Family Movies On Demand — with the service’s shutdown coming just days before the launch of the Mouse House’s Disney Plus. Disney Family Movies, which cost between $5-$10 per month, has been available via pay-TV providers in the U.S., including Comcast Xfinity, Charter Communications, Verizon [...]

  • Amazon Orders ‘All or Nothing: Tottenham

    Amazon Orders ‘All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur’ Soccer Doc Series

    Amazon has greenlit a new “All or Nothing” sports documentary series, this time following London-based soccer team Tottenham Hotspur. “All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur” will follow a year in the life of the team, charting the ongoing 2019-20 season. The squad made it to the final of the European Champions League last year, losing to [...]

  • Jeffrey Katzenberg

    Jeffrey Katzenberg's Quibi Picks T-Mobile as Wireless Launch Partner

    Quibi, the short-form mobile TV service founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg, announced a pact with T-Mobile to be the official telecommunications partner for its April 2020 launch. T-Mobile will be the exclusive wireless distributor when Quibi launches next spring. However, the arrangement doesn’t mean only T-Mobile customers will be able to subscribe to Quibi: Anyone will [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content