Once again, Microsoft has shown the world why it is never a smart decision to write them off any competition, even if it has a less-than-stellar track record to back itself with. Hot off CES2011 is the software giant’s new Surface 2 tabletop computer, which actually sounds somewhat impressive based on the information that has been released to the public.
Ask any layman on the street a question about touchscreen devices and chances are that he or she will proclaim that Apple is the only company that knows how to make a proper user interface or UI for such gadgets. That might be true in the consumer space, where Microsoft is still trying to play catch-up to the likes of iOS and Android.
But things are vastly different when it comes to the enterprise space, where Microsoft has clearly got its stuff right. And the launch of the company’s new Surface 2 tabletop PC is probably the best proof of that.
One of the most significant differences between the new Surface 2 and Microsoft’s older tabletop PC is that the Redmond giant has apparently come to the conclusion that bigger equates to ‘better’. The result is that Surface 2 has received a little growth spurt, with the formerly 30-inch display being upgraded to a much larger 40-inch touchscreen that sports Full HD resolutions. Simply put, it is a little like mounting a 40-inch television screen on four table legs.
Remember how Microsoft once demonstrated how users can place data storage devices on the old Surface and its contents would ‘spill’ onto the display for easy navigation? Expect to see the same kind of functionality in Surface 2.0, and then some. According to Microsoft, Surface 2.0 will feature support for up to 50 simultaneous contact points, which means that you can have up to 10 people poking at Surface 2.0 with their fingers without having Windows 7 crash or struggle to interpret the various inputs. Yes, Surface 2.0 is essentially a special user-interface layered over the same Windows 7 OS that we all know and love.
Last but not least, one would expect that Surface 2.0 requires powerful hardware to run the customized user-interface and its accompanying eye-candy. As it turns out, this is not the case: the first iteration of Surface 2.0 which comes in the form of Samsung’s SUR40 makes use of a fairly average AMD Athlon II X2 245e processor clocked at 2.9GHz, 4GB of DDR3 memory and a modest 320GB hard disk, while a more powerful AMD Radeon 6750HD graphics card supplies the graphics rendering horsepower.
That being said, don’t expect the Samsung SUR40 to be an affordable tabletop PC. According to online sources, the SUR40 is expected to be available at a starting price of US$7,600. And the fact that Surface is designed mostly for enterprise use means that the chances of it showing up in retail shops is close to zero. Of course, one could hold out in the hopes that Microsoft may change its mind, but we’d gather that you’d make better use of your time by writing your own custom UI for that Sandy Bridge-powered PC of yours.