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

We may never know: Only recently did Apple publicly name its suppliers. Foxconn -- the Taiwanese-Chinese firm that builds the bulk of Apple's iPads -- could be the maker, but it could also be anyone from Nokia to Samsung.

It's possible, though unlikely, that there will be clues inside the Surface, but we won't know what's there until units ship and teardown specialists like iFixit pull one apart.

Does the Surface or Surface Pro support cellular wireless? That's for Microsoft to know and us to find out.

The tablets do include Wi-Fi connectivity, of course -- if they didn't, they'd just be expensive doorstops or devices that dangled off a Windows PC -- but Microsoft didn't bother to detail any links via mobile data networks.

Most rivals offer the latter as an option, so we're assuming Microsoft will, too. They may have skipped past that part this week because they don't yet have deals done with mobile service providers, or an even better bet, because the Surface hasn't gone through the necessary testing and certification by government agencies, such as the U.S.'s Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

We'd also like to know whether the Surface will connect with only 3G networks, or the faster LTE (4G) as well.

You can depend on one thing: Surface tablets that will access the Internet over a cellular link will cost more than the Wi-Fi-only models.

Can I use the USB port to expand the tablet's storage capacity? We're not certain, at least not on the Windows RT-powered Surface.

The Surface Pro, being a Windows 8 PC for all intents and purposes, should let you use the USB port -- there's a USB 3.0 one on that tablet -- for the same purposes as other PCs, including using it to jack in an external drive, a printer, keyboard, what have you.

On the Windows RT tablet, we don't know whether the USB 2.0 port can be used for an external drive, but do know that you'll be able to plug in some peripherals. In the footnotes, in small print, on the Microsoft Surface website, is this: "Works exclusively with printers, mice, and keyboards certified for Windows RT."

Is the Surface a tablet or a PC? We know what it is, but Microsoft seems to think different, so we're counting this as an "unknown" for now.

During the Monday introduction, Microsoft executives used the word "tablet" 14 times, but the word "PC" 37 times (we counted them in the transcript on seekingalpha.com).


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