FAQ: what we don't know about Microsoft's Surface tablet

If the saying 'What you don't know can kill you' is true, how much danger are Microsoft and its customers in?

By , Computerworld |  Consumerization of IT, comparison, ipad

It was a major missed opportunity, but not unique: Apple has also blown chances for earlier sales. Although then-CEO Steve Jobs held up the first iPhone on Jan. 9, 2007, the smartphone didn't go on sale until June 29, almost seven months later.

The lag was shorter three years later, when Jobs revealed the original iPad on Jan. 27, 2010. Apple started taking pre-orders for its first tablet on March 12, and shipped the device April 3.

How much RAM is in these tablets? Unknown. That's not unusual, as tablet makers often decline to name the number. But it's important to know how much memory is in the Surface Pro because that model is just a PC in a tighter form factor.

We have to know the onboard memory to know how many applications can be run simultaneously, and even which will run well. To complicate matters, it's unlikely that the tablet's RAM will be upgradeable, so what we get is what we'll have.

When the tablet ships, people will spy out the RAM quantity, but until then, it may remain a mystery.

What's the deal with the covers? Does one come with the tablet? Okay, this is getting repetitive ... we don't know. Microsoft's executives spent an inordinate amount of time Monday on the covers and their built-in keyboards, and perhaps for that reason many analysts tagged those covers-cum-keyboards as a top feature of the Surface, and a major differentiator from rivals.

(Apple's Smart Cover was unique when it debuted, but it's showing its age...and Apple has shown no interest in adding a keyboard to the tablet, with CEO Tim Cook famously dissing the idea of a hybrid as akin to creating a combination toaster-refrigerator.)

Later, Microsoft refused to clarify the cover situation, which we thought odd, again because of the attention paid to the keyboards by the company.

Not surprisingly, questions about the covers came fast and furious: Does one come with each tablet? Is the Touch Cover, with its pressure-sensitive plastic for a keyboard, bundled with the Surface? Does the Type Cover, a thicker but more tactile keyboard, come with the Surface Pro? If they're not included, what will they cost? $50, like the new Smart Case for the iPad? Over $100, like some third-party case-keyboards for Apple's tablet?

We're in the dark here.

Who will manufacture and/or assemble the Surface? Hope you know, because we don't. Microsoft didn't clue anyone in on what company -- maybe one of its OEMs? -- it's contracted to build the tablet.


Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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