Surface (first generation)

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This article is about the first generation tablet of the Surface line in the Microsoft Surface series. For the first generation tablet in the Pro line based on Windows 8 Pro, see Surface Pro.
Developer Microsoft
Product family Microsoft Surface
Type Tablet computer
Release date October 26, 2012
Operating system Windows RT
System-on-chip used Nvidia Tegra 3
Memory 2 GB
Input Two 720p HD LifeCams, front and rear facing
Two Microphones, Stereo Speakers, headset jack
Connectivity Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n)
Bluetooth 4.0
Power Built-in rechargable Li-Po 31.5 W-h
24W power supply
Online services Windows Store, OneDrive,, Microsoft Account, Xbox Music, Xbox Live
Dimensions 10.81 by 6.77 by 0.37 inches (27.46 cm × 17.20 cm × 0.94 cm)
1.5 pounds (680 g)
Weight 1.5 lbs
Successor Surface 2

The first-generation Surface (launched as Surface with Windows RT,[1] later marketed as Surface RT)[2] is a tablet computer that was 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 competitor to Apple's iPad line, Surface included several notable features, including a folding kickstand and the ability to turn the device into a laplet through the use of 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 run Metro-style apps obtained from Windows Store.

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 Surface 2 in 2013.


The device was announced at a press-only event in Los Angeles and was the first PC which Microsoft has ever designed and manufactured in-house.[3] 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.[4]



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 gigabytes.


Main articles: Windows RT and Windows 10 Mobile

Surface runs Windows RT, which is preloaded with Windows Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Sports, News, Travel, Finance, Camera, Weather, Reader, SkyDrive, Store, Photos, Skype, Maps, Games, Messaging, Bing, Desktop, and Xbox Music and Xbox Video. Surface comes with Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 RT, which includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote in the Desktop app. Windows RT only supports installing new apps from the Windows Store and 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[5] 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 [6] 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."[7]

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.[8][9][10][11][12] 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%.[13]


Surface Hub Surface Pro 3 Surface Pro 2 Surface Pro Surface 3 Surface 2 Surface (first generation)

Source: Surface Blog


  1. ^ "Surface tablets start shipping ahead of Windows 8 launch". BBC News. BBC. 24 October 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2015. 
  2. ^ Warren, Tom (13 October 2013). "Microsoft admits Surface RT naming caused 'some confusion'". The Verge. Vox Media. Retrieved 29 August 2015. 
  3. ^ Callaham, John (18 June 2012). "'Microsoft Surface' Windows 8/RT tablets announced". Neowin. Retrieved 30 August 2015. 
  4. ^ Callaham, John (16 October 2012). "Microsoft Surface to be sold in eight countries". Neowin. Retrieved 30 August 2015. 
  5. ^ "What’s new in Windows 8.1 Update and Windows RT 8.1 Update?". Microsoft. Retrieved 30 August 2015. 
  6. ^ "Connect Surface to a TV, monitor, or projector". Microsoft. Retrieved 30 August 2015. 
  7. ^ Franklin, Eric (23 October 2012). "Microsoft Surface review: Innovative tablet stranded in an app desert". CNET. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 29 August 2015. 
  8. ^ Ingraham, Nathan (18 July 2013). "Microsoft took a $900 million hit on Surface RT this quarter". The Verge (Vox Media). Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  9. ^ Paczkowski, John (18 July 2013). "Microsoft Misses, Takes a $900 Million Charge on Surface RT Stock". All Things Digital. Dow Jones & Company. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  10. ^ Warren, Tom (15 July 2013). "Microsoft cuts Surface RT prices by 30 percent worldwide, hopes to boost slow sales". The Verge. Vox Media. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  11. ^ King, Ian; Bass, Dina (15 March 2013). "Microsoft’s Surface Tablet Is Said to Fall Short of Predictions". Bloomberg Business. Bloomberg. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  12. ^ Lowe, Scott (18 July 2013). "Microsoft Lost $900 Million on Surface RT in Q1". (Ziff Davis). Retrieved 20 July 2013. 
  13. ^ Chacos, Brad (26 August 2013). "Surface RT usage skyrockets after steep price cuts". PC World. IDG. Retrieved 28 December 2013. 

External Links[edit]

Official website

Preceded by
1st generation
Succeeded by
Surface 2