Now that the cat is out of the bag, Windows lovers and haters are all wondering about the specific details of the new Microsoft Surface line of tablets—or slates, if you read into MS documentation—coming out later this year. Most of the hardware specs are a mystery (not to mention the pricing).
However, some may be confused as to what the differences between the two versions are. There’s the Windows 8 Pro model and the confusingly-named Windows RT model. Engadget has written up a great comparison article to show those differences:
It’s worth pointing out that the ARM-based WinRT (psst — you can catch up on what exactly Windows RT is here) model is both thinner and lighter than the version with Windows 8 Pro. Moreover, the battery is sized up in the latter, presumably to handle the higher power drain of the 1080p panel and the Core i5 processor. Strangely, microSDXC and USB 3.0 are only supported on the Win8 Pro model; we’re guessing it’s either a platform limitation, or just run-of-the-mill cost cutting. That said, bundling Office with the WinRT edition is apt to make Win8 Pro buyers salty; why not include it with the slate that’ll be priced like a laptop (i.e. well north of what a lot of buyers will be willing to pay)? While we’re comparing and contrasting, it’s also vital to note that the WinRT variant won’t ship with a 1080p panel; Microsoft didn’t get specific on screen resolution, but a paltry 1366 x 768 is going to look mighty pixelated sitting next to a 1080p Win8 Pro sibling, a Retina-equipped iPad and ASUS’ 1080p Zenbook / Transformer lines.
In short: Windows RT to Windows 8 is not the same as Apple iOS to OS X, but it’s similar. If you’re happy with Windows 8’s Metro layout and apps, the Microsoft Surface Windows RT version may be enough for your needs. However, if you need a full Windows 8 PC in a nice, portable package, the Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro edition would be better.
The main success factor for the Microsoft Surface tablet will be pricing. I’m going to assume that the Windows RT model of Microsoft Surface will be priced to compete with the current generation of iPads—maybe even cheaper. If the Windows 8 Pro model is priced between an iPad and an ultrabook (or a laptop with similar specs), it will be an amazing device to have. However, selling the Microsoft Surface Pro at a higher-than-ultrabook price will be the deal breaker.
Guess we will see in the coming weeks/months how Microsoft plays its next move!