Microsoft Unveils New Surface
13 days after Apple showed off its new iPhones, Microsoft debuted its new Surface tablet computers on Monday in New York. The company unveiled faster, more powerful versions of its Surface tablet computer in a bid to compete with Apple’s iPad. Two new machines and a range of accessories promising faster processing, better battery life and more apps were shown off to semi-appreciative crowd.
The second generation Surface includes a new cover that features a built in battery. Called a Power Cover, it is backwards compatible with the first generation Surface Pro. The new Surface Pro 2 sports a thinner look thanks to a new processing chip that does not use a fan and needs much less energy to function. Known as the Haswell, the chip is already being used in similar devices manufactured by Dell, Samsung, and Apple.
Intel Corporation, the maker of the Haswell, has been working hard to ratchet down power consumption of its Core branded chips in order to get them into thinner devices. Most future Intel powered Windows tablets are expected to use the Bay Trail Atom chip. Bay Trail is part of the Silvermont Atom family, Intel’s most power thrifty design. The chip is directed at devices that don’t use fans to cool their systems such as smartphones and tablets. The caveat is that the chip does not deliver the performance of Intel’s Core Haswell chips.
As for the Surface, Microsoft has had issues with the device since its release in October of last year. Sales have been sluggish at best. The company garnered a dismal 2 percent of the tablet market in the first quarter of release and even less in the second quarter. From April through June, Microsoft absorbed a $900 million charge after it slashed prices by $150 to stimulate demand. The company is determined to hit a winning combination in tablets and hybrid laptops because the PC market is dying a slow death.
Aside from the Surface release, Microsoft will release Windows 8.1 on 17 October. They are hoping that sales of Surface will be stimulated by the release. Brandon LeBlanc, Microsoft’s Senior Marketing Communications Manager noted in a blog he posted in August on the Windows website that “Now is a great time to buy a Windows 8 device in a range of different form factors like Microsoft Surface…”
The bottom line is that as tablets replace PCs, Android will replace Windows, hitting Microsoft hard. The changes in the second generation Surface have got to entice users away from the Apple iPad in order for the device to succeed where the first generation has failed. The company knows that it has to hit a solid home run and is pinning its hopes on the combination of the new Surface and the release of Windows 8.1. The hugely popular Office suite is the Surface’s one distinctive selling point over Apple, as Microsoft has not released full Office apps for the iPad.
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