Surface (2012 tablet)
|Product family||Microsoft Surface|
|Release date||October 26, 2012|
|Discontinued||July 18, 2013|
|Operating system||Windows RT|
|System-on-chip used||Nvidia Tegra 3|
32/64 GB |
microSDXC card slot
Two 720p HD LifeCams, front and rear facing |
Two Microphones, headset jack, Ambient Light
Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n) |
HD video out (micro-HDMI)
Built-in rechargable Li-Po 31.5 Wh |
24 W power supply
|Online services||Windows Store, OneDrive, Outlook.com, Microsoft Account, Xbox Music, Xbox Live|
10.81 by 6.77 by 0.37 inches (27.46 cm × 17.20 cm × 0.94 cm) |
1.5 pounds (680 g)
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The first-generation Surface (launched as Surface with Windows RT, later marketed as Surface RT) is a hybrid tablet computer developed and manufactured by Microsoft. Announced on June 18, 2012, it was released on October 26, 2012, and was the first ever personal computer designed in-house by Microsoft.
Positioned as a direct competitor to Apple's iPad line, Surface included several notable features, including a folding kickstand, which allows the tablet to stand at some angles, and the ability to attach optional protective covers that incorporate keyboards. Surface served as the launch device for Windows RT, a variation of Windows 8 that was designed for devices based on ARM architecture. Windows RT contains notable differences and limitations compared to Windows 8, including several removed features, being bundled with a special edition of Microsoft Office 2013 Home & Student, and, besides software included with the operating system, being incompatible with desktop software that runs on Windows 8 for personal computers and tablets with Intel compatible processors. Windows RT can only run Metro-style apps obtained from Windows Store. However visually resembling Surface Pro 2-in-1 detachable, Surface is not considered a 2-in-1 PC, being in fact a variant of a hybrid tablet.
Surface was met with mixed reviews. Although praised for its hardware design, accessories, and aspects of its operating system, criticism was directed towards the performance of the device, as well as the limitations of the Windows RT operating system and its application ecosystem. Sales of the Surface were poor, with Microsoft cutting its price worldwide and taking a US$990 million loss in July 2013 as a result. It was succeeded by the Surface 2 in 2013, which comes with the newer RT 8.1 OS. The original Surface has also since received this update, and support for it and the Surface 2 will end in 2023.
The device was announced at a press-only event in Los Angeles and was the first PC which Microsoft had designed and manufactured in-house. The Surface only supports WiFi for wireless connectivity, with no cellular variant. The tablet went on sale in eight countries - Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The Surface Pro was launched later.
The Surface tablet has a display of 1366x768 pixels on a five-point multi-touch touchscreen with Gorilla Glass 2. The device measures 10.81 by 6.77 by 0.37 inches (27.46 cm × 17.20 cm × 0.94 cm) and is made from magnesium. The kickstand, USB port and a magnetic keyboard interface give the Surface ability to add a wireless mouse, external keyboard or a thumb drive. There is also a slot for a microSD card to add up to 200 GB.
Surface runs Windows RT, which is preloaded with Windows Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Sports, News, Travel, Finance, Camera, Weather, Reader, SkyDrive, Store, Photos, Skype (no longer supported), Maps, Games, Messaging, Bing, Desktop, and Xbox Music and Xbox Video Windows Store applications, and supports Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 RT, which includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote within the Desktop application. Windows RT only allows installing Windows Store applications. Windows RT is compiled entirely for the ARM instruction set architecture.
A major update to Windows RT 8.0 was launched October 17, 2013, called Windows RT 8.1. This update brought many improvements to the Surface, such as an overhauled Mail app, more Bing apps like Reading List, and OneDrive (updated from SkyDrive). It also brought support for larger tiles, a help and tips app, Internet Explorer 11, Outlook 2013 RT, changes to PC Settings, lockscreen photo slideshow, infinitely re-sizable apps, a Start button, and speed improvements. Later, an update to Windows RT 8.1, dubbed Windows RT 8.1 Update added a search button to the Start Screen, as well as the taskbar on the Modern UI, and a title bar for Modern UI apps.
Surface launched with two accessories, the Type Cover and the Touch Cover. The Touch Cover came in white, black, magenta, red and cyan, while the Type Cover came in black. Limited edition Touch Covers were released featuring laser-etched artwork on the back. The Touch and Type Covers double as keyboards and magnetically attach to the Surface's "accessory spine".
Later, adapters for micro-HDMI to HDMI  and VGA were released.
CNET praised the design of Surface, noting that it "[looked] practical without being cold, and just feels like a high-quality device that Microsoft cut few corners to make." The kickstand was also praised for its feel and quality, while both the kickstand and the keyboard cover accessories were also noted for having a "satisfying" clicking sound when engaged or attached. The covers were deemed "essential to getting the complete Surface experience", with the touch cover praised for having a more "spacious" typing area than other tablet keyboard attachments, and for being usable after getting used to its soft feel. The Type Cover was recommended over the Touch Cover due to its higher quality and more conventional key design. Surface's display was praised for its larger size and widescreen aspect ratio over the iPad line, but panned for having "muted" color reproduction. While the touchscreen-oriented aspects of the Windows 8 interface were praised for being "elegant", albeit harder to learn than Android or iOS, the Windows RT operating system was panned for still requiring use of the mouse-oriented desktop interface to access some applications and settings not accessible from within the "Metro" shell, and for its poor application ecosystem, with Windows Store's state on-launch compared to "a ghost town after the apocalypse." Surface was also panned for its poor performance, especially in comparison to other Tegra 3-based tablets. In conclusion, it was felt that "paired with a keyboard cover, the Surface is an excellent Office productivity tool (the best in tablet form) and if your entertainment needs don't go far beyond movies, TV shows, music, and the occasional simple game, you're covered there as well", but that assuming Windows Store would eventually improve its application selection, "both it and the Surface's wonky performance keep a useful productivity device from reaching true tablet greatness."
Sales of the Surface and other Windows RT devices were poor; in July 2013, Microsoft reported a loss of US$900 million due to lackluster sales of the Surface, and cut its price by 30% worldwide. Microsoft's price cut did result in a slight increase of market share for the device; by late-August 2013, usage data from the advertising network AdDuplex (which provides advertising services within Windows Store apps) revealed that Surface's share had increased from 6.2 to 9.8%.
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