Microsoft Announces The New ‘Surface’, a 10.6″ Tablet, Based on Windows 8

Windows 8, “Surface

Los AngelesMicrosoft today unveiled a major tablet initiative to compete with Apple’s iPad, Google’s Android, and its own PC hardware partners. After days of speculation and rumors, Microsoft’s major announcement has just been unveiled at a press event in Los Angeles: a Surface tablet. We suspected the company might be working on its own tablet, and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer revealed the device on stage at Milk Studios in Los Angeles today. Discussing Microsoft’s history with Windows, Xbox, and Kinect, Ballmer introduced a video of the company’s hardware products over the years before unveiling Windows 8‘s companion, the Microsoft Surface.

Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky took to the stage to describe the hardware of Microsoft’s Surface tablet. There will be two options for Microsoft’s Surface PC, one powered by Intel’s 22nm Ivy Bridge chips running Windows 8, and another Surface powered by an ARM chipset and Windows RT. The Windows RT version is just 9.3mm thin, weighs 1.5lbs, includes a built-in kickstand, and is the first PC with a vapor-deposited (PVD) magnesium case, according to Microsoft. It will ship in 32GB or 64GB versions, complete with a 10.6-inch ClearType HD display (of unknown resolution).

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Microsoft’s Intel-based Surface tablet will run Windows 8 Pro, with a thickness of 13.5mm, a weight of 1.9lbs, and USB 3.0 support. This particular version will also include magnesium casing and a built-in kickstand, but will ship with either 64GB or 128GB storage. Additionally, the Intel version will include additional digital ink support through a pen that magnetizes to the body of the tablet, and a 10.6-inch ClearType “Full HD” display. Both of Microsoft’s Surface tablets feature optional Touch and Type keyboard covers.

Microsoft says suggested retail pricing will be announced closer to availability and is expected to be competitive with a comparable ARM tablet or Intel Ultrabook-class PC. The Windows RT tablet will ship around the same time that Microsoft releases Windows 8 (expected in October), while the Intel-based Pro tablet will arrive about three months later.

Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate now available to download

Windows Server 2012

Microsoft Server Farm

Ahead of the highly anticipated release of Microsoft’s Windows 8 Release Preview today, the company has posted the server edition of its next-generation operating system. Windows Server 2012 is the server version of Windows 8, an upgrade from the previous Windows Server 2008 R2. Microsoft’s Release Candidate of Windows Server 2012 includes a redesigned Server Manager and uses the Metro user interface as a Start Menu replacement. We haven’t tested the latest Release Candidate of Windows Server 2012, but it will reportedly remove options to boot directly to the desktop instead of the new Metro interface.

Windows Server 2012 will also include Microsoft’s new Resilient File System (ReFS) to handle large volumes, resiliency to corruption, and shared storage pools across machines. ReFS will only be available inside Windows Server 2012 initially, but Microsoft has plans to test it within the server edition and make it available to Windows 8 client users at a later date. Microsoft has also previously promised that the majority of applications that currently run on Windows Server 2008 and R2 “should work” on Windows Server 2012.

-(via Verge) 

Windows 8 will support USB 3.0, reveals Microsoft:


Microsoft has revealed that Windows 8 will boast “robust” support for USB 3.0 devices, though it will continue to support old USB specifications.

Microsoft’s Dennis Flanagan, the director of program management for its Devices and Networking group, explained the engineering work Microsoft is undertaking to support USB 3.0 on the company’s blog. The USB standard is more than 10 times as fast as its predecessor, USB 2.0. Its competitor, Apple, has opted for the faster Thunderbolt standard.

“The decision to invest in USB 3.0 was an easy one to make, but doing so without compromising the existing USB ecosystem was a big challenge to overcome,” Flanagan said in a blog post. “Our design had to follow the revised 3.0 specification precisely in order to enable emerging USB 3.0 hardware. There are also billions of older USB devices that Windows must remain compatible with.”

To make USB 3.0 work with the next generation of Windows, Flanagan says that Microsoft started working with hardware manufacturers early to “meticulously design a new USB software stack for the new controller while maintaining existing interfaces and behaviors, ensuring every device and driver will work.” To do this, they refined a software model checking tool called “Zing” to test every aspect of its software model.

Other work done to prepare for USB 3.0 included extensive hardware testing and creating a custom tool called MUTT (USB Test Tool) “to simulate a full range of device behaviors that we’d observed over the years.” Essentially, it allowed Microsoft to test 1,000 different USB devices with a single USB thumb drive.

To better explain its work with USB 3.0, Microsoft released a video demonstrating the capabilities of Windows 8 when using the new USB standard. Check it out below and let us know what you think in the comments:

-[via Ben Parr, Winrumors]


Microsoft unveils Windows 8 (video)

We’re live from Microsoft Windows president Steven Sinofsky’s keynote at D9, and there’s something rather exciting on stage — a pair of experimental Windows 8 dev boards running an OS that looks very much like Windows Phone 7’s Metro UI. All Things D actually sat down with the man earlier today and got a sneak peek at what to expect starting with the live tiled screen you see above — and yes, like Windows Phone 7, this OS is designed for touch.

There’ll be two kinds of applications for Windows 8, one that runs in a traditional desktop, and the other pseudo-mobile apps based on HTML5 and Javascript, but both environments — rather, the entire OS — have been designed from the ground up for touchscreen use. Keyboard and mouse will still be options for both sets of programs, but there are multiple virtual sets of keys for different form factors, including a split keyboard for vertical slate use. Multitasking is simply a matter of swiping running apps into the center of the screen, and you can pull windows partway to “snap” them in place alongside other windows — even mixing and matching traditional desktop programs with web apps simultaneously (like Twitter alongside your spreadsheet). There’s a new version of Internet Explorer 10 (which runs Silverlight) and an app store built into the touchscreen interface, along with integrated services like Office 365. Microsoft says the new OS will run on laptops, tablets and desktops when it appears — whenever that might be.

All Things D didn’t have any details on when we’ll get pricing or availability, but we’re looking at some Intel Atom-based demo units on stage right now, and Microsoft says it will have ARM designs (the OS will support NVIDIA, TI and Qualcomm) viewable on the Computex show floor, and more will be revealed at the Build Windows developer conference in September. We should note that “Windows 8” is just a codename for what we’re seeing here — “we’ll figure out the real name in due time,” Sinofsky told the crowd — but we don’t see much harm in calling it Windows 8 for now.

Windows 8 [detailed Video] :

Windows 8 (unveiled) :

——-(via engadget)——–
6:46PM And we’re in! Hoping for a real-deal Windows 8 demo, but who knows what the future may hold. Seriously, anyone?
6:49PM Crazy loud music in here. The party is officially on.
6:52PM Oh, snap! Is that a pair of Windows 8-based tablets up there on stage? Dollars to donuts we’ll get a demo here shortly…
6:55PM Lights are down — here we go! Steven’s out!
6:56PM Steven: “Around 6,000 people working on Windows, IE, and in the division I’m in.” That’s a lot of folk!
6:57PM Walt just asked how Steven feels about not being in Eric Schmidt’s “Gang Of Four.” He seems to be playing it down a bit, and Walt’s suggesting that a score ago, we may have said it’s a Gang Of One, with One being Microsoft.
6:57PM Steven: “Nothing called the Gang Of Four” ends well. Lots of laughs.
6:58PM Walt: “It’s a little unfair here, ’cause you aren’t the CEO of Microsoft, but since you’re the Microsoft man here — you’ve missed a couple of things, big things, right?”
6:58PM Steven: “We definitely missed the iPhone — we didn’t do that one.” Ha!
6:59PM Walt: “We’re still not seeing [Microsoft] tablets with a multitouch-optimized OS from you, and the iPad’s been out some 16-17 months. So, what’s going on?”
7:00PM Walt: “Is it because you’re big and bureaucratic?”

Steven:“Well, we aren’t out of the game — you picked a few things that we’ve not done well on, while there are some things we’ve done well. There’s now more opportunity for us to do a better job. We didn’t do the job, and now we have to go after it.”

7:01PM Steven, speaking about matching the iPad: “We aren’t there yet, but we’ll get to some of that today.” Woo! Diving in here…
7:02PM No question about it — we’re hearing about Windows 8 today.
7:04PM Steven: “Over the 25 years of Windows, I’ve been impressed with the flexibility of Windows. It started as giant machines with few resources.” He’s going over a full history of Windows, we think. Let’s get touching!
7:06PM Really beating around the bush — those dev boards back there are just yearning to be grasped.

Steven’s talking about Microsoft’s efforts thus far with touch; while Windows 7 “has it,” the company understood that things needed to be attacked differently for tablets.

7:07PM If you’ll recall, at Computex 2010, Microsoft seemed certain that Windows 7 was their tablet OS. A year later, that’s hardly proven true — a handful of Win7 tablets made their way out, but none of ’em struck a major chord with consumers.

Here’s hoping that changes today. Meanwhile, Steven’s talking about the WinNT kernel.

7:08PM Walt: “I get the sense that Windows is this big, sluggish thing. The more you use it, the more it slows down. When I turn on an Android tablet or iPad, it just feels light and new. Why would you turn to this big, heavy Windows thing instead of doing another OS for tablets?”
7:09PM Steven: “People told us the same thing when it comes to servers.”
7:10PM Oooh, here comes the demo man! He’s setting things up over here on the stage…
7:12PM Steven: “In Taiwan, in about two hours, we’re show prototypes running the next release of Windows on ARM.” Exciting! We’ll be on the lookout at Computex.
7:12PM So, a new, full version of Windows on tablet. We’re just calling it Windows 8 right now, says Steven.
7:14PM Steven: “Give us some time — we’ll figure out the real name in due time.”

Walt just said we’ll see the new build of Windows “shortly.” In case you couldn’t tell, we’re sitting on the edge of our seat… mildly uncomfortable, but worth it.

7:15PM Walt: “Why is your approach here better?”

Steven: “It’s better because of all the things that Windows brings…”

Walt: “Let me say here — viruses, malware, etc.”

7:16PM Steven: “We colored outside of the lines with this release, and we’re excited about it.” Likewise!
7:17PM Steven: “A word we used in development was ‘modern.'”
7:18PM Demo! It’s a test rig here — all these cards run the screen, and there’s a desktop below pushing the power.
7:19PM When Microsoft started to think about its next release, it wanted Windows to become more modern. It’s now important to connect with a social network, and the internet is a huge part of your experience. Sounds a lot like the Chrome OS mantra!
7:20PM No more blank desktop! It’s a WP7-esque interface — tons of tiles pop up when you come to “the desktop,” and it looks totally customizable.
7:21PM Loads of “live tiles.” If you’ve seen Mango, you’ve seen this, largely. Super exciting direction for Windows.
7:22PM Whoa, the start tiles have “definitely replaced” the Start Menu. RIP Start Menu!
7:23PM We’re told that every desktop app will run in this environment, and the Internet Explorer has been rebuilt for more modern demands and usage expectations.
7:25PM Multiple built-in keyboards! There’s a split one for typing on vertically-held slates. Wild!
7:26PM Whoa, wait! They just pulled up Excel, and now it looks just like Windows 7! Hmm. Microsoft: “We don’t think people should have to give up things they know to deal with a new form factor.”
7:28PM Also new for Windows 8 is a “basket” feature, looks like a branch of social networking where your friends’ photos are pulled into a Photos application.
7:29PM The Start bar definitely reappears with Office. Evidently Microsoft didn’t want to let go of it when it comes to Office.
7:30PM Microsoft’s affirming that everything’s able to be customized. It also just dawned on us that some of this looks a lot like Media Center. Obviously, WP7 comes to mind first, but there’s definitely elements here that we’ve seen before in some form or fashion.
7:31PM Here’s a shot of multitasking, all initiated by touch.
7:31PM And here’s a Lenovo ThinkPad X220 running Windows 8. Don’t get your hopes up — these are just here for demonstration purposes.
7:32PM “Hundreds of millions of PCs will run Windows 8, doesn’t matter if it supports touch or not.”
7:33PM So, there’s a fancy new interface, but Microsoft’s stance from Computex 2010 hasn’t changed in the least. There’s just a single OS. Touch, non-touch, laptop, desktop, tablet — one OS. The question remains: will a hulking Windows install actually feel elegant when used on a tablet?
7:34PM Walt: “This seems like the biggest change in Windows since Windows 95.”
7:35PM Kara seemed fairly upset that Office still takes you back to what’s effectively a Windows 7 interface; the Microsoft team seems to think that Office will be lagging behind when it comes to a refined interface.
7:35PM When’s it coming out?

Steven: “Right now, we’re focused on getting the release done, and the next milestone is the developer conference in September. We’re aiming to keep new Windows builds coming every two the three years. I can tell you it won’t be this fall.”

7:36PM Is Microsoft worried that enterprise users may see this and think it’s too consumer-focused?

Not really — employees are consumers too, and the lines have blurred somewhat. That has definitely been a recurring theme throughout D9, starting with Eric Schmidt’s line that traditional IT is dead.

7:37PM Walt’s pointing out that there’s elements of Zune and Media Center in here, but the casual user may be “shocked” when they look it.
7:38PM Walt: “You’ll have a dev conference in September, and will you have developer tools so that third-party apps can look like this?”

Steven: “Yes! There’s all new APIs so you can build things to look like this. You’ll have access to entirely new services (like the photo file picker).”

7:39PM Steven’s talking up connectivity — in September, we’ll hear about apps talking and sharing and consuming information from other apps. An example, here’s a photo app that can publish photos from another photo app that peeks into the cloud to get it.
7:40PM Walt: “If I’m a developer, am I torn between designing an app for mouse-use or touch-use, since this will be just one OS for all kinds of systems?” A darn good point, might we say.
7:41PM So, you design for touch, and then you translate to mouse / keyboard, and it doesn’t feel clumsy. In other words, you’ll need to use arrow keys to “swipe” from pane to pane. Also, the Windows key will remain in Windows 8, much to Walt’s chagrin — we’re told that that’ll take you back to the start / home screen.
7:43PM It’s monumentally impressive to us that Microsoft thinks they’ve got a full-on tablet solution within a full-on copy of Windows. What happens if you install the next Crysis on a tablet with an embedded GPU?
7:44PM Walt: “What about security? Am I really going to have to install anti-virus software on a lovely looking tablet?”
7:44PM Steven: “It’s always smart to run anti-virus software.” Sigh.
7:45PM Steven wants to talk interface. Walt wants to get down to brass tacks. Getting beyond the pretty start screen, so to speak.
7:47PM Steven just runs Microsoft Security Essentials, and I never get a pop-up. Problem is, the vast majority of Windows-based PCs have all sorts of annoying security software loaded on. The question is: will a future Lenovo tablet come with Security Essentials, or some Norton program on there? Walt’s worried about tiles being cluttered with these very apps.
7:48PM “Adding and removing programs is super easy within Windows 8.”
7:48PM Walt wants to know if Windows 8 machines will boot “as fast as a MacBook Air.” Steven won’t give a straight answer.
7:49PM Steven: “I think we could still do a lot of work with our OEM partners, they view the things they do [i.e. bloatware] as value-adding things.”
7:49PM Questions!
7:50PM Asked about a transition strategy for ARM, Steven says there won’t be a virtualization model. The company decided that the modern apps, written in HTML5 and Java, etc., will likely provide the best user experience.
7:51PM Asked about development, Steven confirmed that the browser within Windows 8 will run Silverlight. We support the most, different ways to reach users.
7:53PM The Windows 8 convertible shown in this demo was running on Atom — so that confirms at least some of the lower-level specifications.
7:55PM Question on if Microsoft’s going to be integrating its services in Windows 8. Steven’s affirming that it’ll happen. Office 365, etc.
7:56PM Question: How is this different than TouchSmart, or just another layer on top of Windows?
7:57PM “It’s not a layer, it’s Windows. It runs across hundreds of millions of PCs, and works across a vast variety of machines. It’s much more seamless than a layer, it’s not two shelves.”
7:58PM Question: Could I make a tablet where you never see the “old house?”

Answer: You’d have to just not use a desktop-based application. In other words, it’ll always live there.

7:59PM An OEM could make a tablet in which the user would never see “normal Windows?” No, you can’t turn “the desktop” off, it’s just part of the way that it works. It’s always there. The code is there.”
8:00PM Also, in case you haven’t noticed, apps are definitely going to be a part of Windows 8. No one specifically said that, but it’s pretty obvious.
8:01PM And that’s a wrap! Stay tuned — Nokia’s head man Stephen Elop will be taking the stage next!

Eager for more? We’re settled in (again) at D9 here in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, and with HP’s boss headed for stage right, it’s Steven Sinofsky finding a comfortable spot in the hot seat. For those needing a refresher, he’s the president of Windows and Windows Live, and with rampant talk of Windows 8 dominating the news this week, we’re clearly hoping to catch a few quips about how the outfit’s next major OS release will be (prayerfully) tailored for tablets. Join me for the blow-by-blow just after the break!

Update: Video after the break!

CLICK HERE for detailed Video