Microsoft Surface: Definitely an iPad Killer, but it isn’t!

Months ago I’ve presented a seminar on Microsoft Surface. When I heard about the Microsoft’s big event depicting a BIG announcement, I was so keen to know what it was all about. And there I hear it’s a Surface, again! I was numb for a while wondering what was BIG in it, and then I searched for a picture of same and found no resemblance to the Surface once I knew. Instead it was an iPad killer, or should I say iPad murderer, certainly it will kick some ass for sure.

Moreover, the tabletop computing platform formerly known as “Microsoft Surface” was “rebranded” to Microsoft PixelSense, Now here is a wiki extract no what Surface actually sounds like.

Microsoft Surface is a line of tablet computers designed and marketed by Microsoft. The Surface will be available in two versions, one that runs Windows RT and one that runs Windows 8 operating systems. Microsoft has announced that different versions will be available featuring ARM and Intel CPUs and the display is a 10.6″, 16:9 widescreen HD Display (RT version), or Full HD Display (Pro version). The product was announced by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at a Los Angeles event on June 18, 2012, at Milk Studios. As of June 19, 2012, no pricing or release date is available.

The Microsoft Surface line features VaporMg (pronounced as Vapor Mag), the molded magnesium casing that houses Surface’s components paired with a PVD finish, which is a manufacturing process that produces a durable finish. VaporMg allows magnesium to be melted down and molded to the details needed for Surface. Also included in both Surface models are a USB port, a micro-SD slot, and a magnetic strip to attach accessories such as the ‘Touch Cover’ and ‘Type Cover’. There are also two cameras, front-facing and rear-facing. The front-facing camera will be angled at 22 degrees to allow proper framing of another person while the “kickstand” is in use.

For the CPUs, the Surface with Windows RT will use an Nvidia ARM CPU. The Windows 8 Pro Surface will utilize an “Ivy Bridge” Core i5 quad core chip like the chips in current Windows laptops.

The Surface device demoed in the Microsoft Surface Events had a new connection port with 5 pins. This was acknowledged as a magnetic charging connector during Microsoft’s presentation event by Steve Sinofsky.

Microsoft will offer two keyboard covers for Surface: Touch Cover and Type Cover. Both, when folded up, serve as protective covers that connect to the Surface via a magnetic connector. When opened, the covers are keyboards. The Touch Cover is 3 mm in thickness and has a touch-sensitive keyboard. The Type Cover is thicker and includes a more traditional keyboard. Both also include a multitouch touchpad.

No shipping/availability date for the surface has been announced.

Microsoft has stated that “suggested retail pricing will be announced closer to availability and is expected to be competitive with a comparable ARM tablet or Intel Ultrabook-class PC. OEMs will have cost and feature parity on Windows 8 and Windows RT.”

It’s uncertain that Microsoft refused to answer about the availability and pricing of the product. But again if those details are out already before its commercial launch, it might give Apple and Google much time to undercut Surface. At least for now it’s a killer.

High resolution images and an introduction video of Microsoft Surface can be downloaded from here.

I Love Metro; ‘A Design Language’

Hearing Metro in the perspective of language for the first time? Well, take a look at the UI of latest Microsoft product. Yeah that’s Metro and I just love it! Here’s what a design language is;

A design language is an overarching scheme or style that guides the design of a complement of products or architectural settings. Designers wishing to give their suite of products a unique but consistent look and feel define a design language for it, which can describe choices for design aspects such as materials, color schemes, shapes, patterns, textures, or layouts. They then follow the scheme in the design of each object in the suite.

In automobiles, the design language is often in the grille design. For instance, many BMW vehicles share a design language, including front-end styling consisting of a split kidney and four circular headlights. Some manufacturers have appropriated design language cues from rival firms.

Metro is an internal code name for a typography-based design language created by Microsoft, originally for use in Windows Phone 7. Early uses of the Metro principles began as early as Microsoft Encarta 95 and MSN 2.0,and later evolved into Windows Media Center and Zune. Later the principles of Metro were included in Windows Phone, Microsoft’s website, the Xbox 360 dashboard update, and Windows 8. A key design principle of Metro is better focus on the content of applications, relying more on typography and less on graphics.

“Metro” is based on the design principles of classic Swiss graphic design. Early glimpses of this style could be seen in Windows Media Center for Windows XP Media Center Edition, which favored text as the primary form of navigation. This interface carried over into later iterations of Media Center. In 2006, Zune refreshed its interface using these Metro principles. Microsoft designers decided to redesign the interface and with more focus on clean typography and less on UI chrome. The Zune Desktop Client was also redesigned with an emphasis on typography and clean design that was different from the Zune’s previous Portable Media Center based UI. Flat colored “live tiles” were introduced into the Metro design language during the early Windows Phone’s studies. Microsoft has begun integrating these elements of the Metro design language into its other products, with direct influence being seen in newer versions of Windows Live Messenger and Live Mesh.

Microsoft’s design team says that the Metro UI is partly inspired by signs commonly found at public transport systems, for instance on the King County Metro transit system, which serves the Seattle area where Microsoft is headquartered. Metro places emphasis on good typography and has large text that catches the eye. Microsoft says that Metro is designed to be “sleek, quick, modern” and a “refresh” from the icon-based interfaces of Windows, Android, and iOS. Not only Microsoft the whole tech world says the same.

All instances use fonts based on the Segoe font family designed by Steve Matteson at Agfa Monotype and licensed to Microsoft. For the Zune, Microsoft created a custom version called Zegoe UI, and for Windows Phone, Microsoft created the “Segoe WP” font family. The fonts differ only in minor details.

Response to Metro has been generally positive. Engadget said, “Microsoft continues its push towards big, big typography here, providing a sophisticated, neatly designed layout that’s almost as functional as it is attractive.” CNET complimented the Metro design, saying, “It’s a bit more daring and informal than the tight, sterile icon grids and Rolodex menus of the iPhone and iPod Touch.”

The Industrial Designers Society of America (IDEA) awarded Windows Phone, which uses Metro, the “People’s Choice Design” gold award as well as the “Best in Show” award. Isabel Ancona, the User Experience Consultant at IDEA, explained why Windows Phone won this award and explains the user experience of Metro:

The Metro design language was designed specifically to consolidate groups of common tasks to speed up usage. This is accomplished by excluding superfluous graphics and instead relying on the actual content to also function as the main UI. The resulting interfaces favor larger hubs over smaller buttons and often feature laterally scrolling canvases. Page titles are usually large and consequently also take advantage of lateral scrolling.

Animation plays a large part, with transitions, and user interactions such as presses or swipes recommended to always be acknowledged by some form of natural animation or motion. This is intended to give the user the impression that the UI is “alive” and responsive, with “an added sense of depth.”

Thank you Microsoft, Apple and Google.

In the everyday processes of life, it’s quite easy to lose sight of the technology right in front of you that does everything from help you with your daily work tasks; to aid in stress reduction; to allowing you to keep in touch with friends and family; to appeasing passions and curiosity; and far more. Although these select 3 are far from the only companies that create products that touch my life on a daily basis, they are arguably the most integral in my day-to-day functions.

THANK YOU, MICROSOFT

 Even though I’m not too keen on Windows 8 at the moment, I have maintained a certain passion for Windows, more precisely for Microsoft over the years that transcends the boundaries of “fanboyism” and brand loyalty. I am platform-agnostic to the extent that I want people to use what works best for them; to use what they love. Personally, as an OS enthusiast, I’ve tried alpha/beta/mock-up Windows bits, also other OS’s; enjoy installing old builds to play with in virtual machines; perform investigative research to get the scoop on the latest and greatest Windows progress/plans; and much more. These activities all take place within Windows 7. There are some key functions of Windows 7 that I hate to see left behind in Windows 8 — so much so, as a matter of fact, of course I’ll be using Windows 8 after its final release. Also at present Windows 7 lacks absolutely nothing for my personal needs in an OS.

Just to be clear, this isn’t a gushing, brand-loyal fan view of Windows; this is just a “thank you” to Microsoft for creating an OS that I’ve been far more passionate about utilizing for more than just typical end-user usage scenarios. Without it, I wouldn’t quite be able to go about my daily tasks in the manner that I do now. Sure, mobile OS’s like Windows Phone 7, Android; OS X and Linux are fully capable operating systems, but there are too many things I use Windows for that I simply cannot use other OSs for (certain applications, gaming, etc.). Above all, I am a big, BIG fan of the software giant Microsoft. It’s just that simple.

THANK YOU, APPLE

Two words: iPhone & iPad, the greatest innovations from Apple which clearly dominated the entire market for Apple way past Microsoft.  Users, after a brief stint with an Android tablet that most users wasn’t fit to be considered amongst the tablet user demographic, later purchased an iPad and haven’t looked back since. I don’t think a single day goes by that they have their hands on iPad at some point – be it to browse the Web; check email; see which new apps are out; do a bit of gaming; keep Magic Window running for relaxation; or otherwise. Yes, it’s a very expensive device; hence users like me would prefer Android (since Microsoft is yet to release a tab) tabs over iPad if it is worth.

The same story goes with the iPhone, which is the most popular smartphone since 2007. It was ground breaking when Steve Jobs first introduced the iPhone to the tech world. It then saw many version of the phone with improvements ranging from its hardware to software. The latest released version of iPhone is the ‘iPhone 4s’. Thank you apple for the all the innovations that you’ve brought to us that still keeps Steve alive.

THANK YOU, GOOGLE

 As an advanced search aficionado and investigative researcher, I can say with 100% certainty that no other search engine out there (that I’ve tried) comes remotely close to touching your results in so far as the types of things I search for! Not Bing, Baidu, Yandex, or any other specialty search engine I’ve tried is as fruitful. And for those of you reading, before you disagree with me and tell me that your preferred search engine is as good as Google, go run the following search query  and  see how you fare: “Windows 8″ filetype:pdf | filetype:pptx | filetype:docx | filetype:ppt | filetype:doc | filetype:rtf site:download.microsoft.com | inurl:”ftp://”

That is a prime example of how advance users frequently search. And Google allows me to do that with a level of success that is unrivalled. If you are new to such queries then search for ‘Google search secrets’. The thought of Google ever getting rid of such advanced functionality frightens me, because the majority of people don’t have the need to search like that and Google is always seeking to make search easier for the majority. So, with that said, thank you, Google, for maintaining a subset of advanced operators with which to make the absolute most of your search engine. But I also have an opinion that Google have failed to see a success on most of their other products (like Google+).

And with that, I’ll bring my writing to a close. I wanted to add more than just the three companies above for products that touch my life on a daily basis, but such a list would have been ridiculous without limiting it to 3. After all, there are personalities like Bill Gates, Larry Page, and Thomas Jr.  Watson; Motorola for my phone needs; Airtel as a cellular provider; Acer for my laptop PC needs; prominent hardware manufacturers Intel & AMD for my desktop PC needs; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Dropbox for sharing and social needs; and the list just goes on and on and on and on and on.

It’s really easy to forget about – and even be critical of – the technology around you, so why not take a minute to reflect on some positive thoughts about the technology that enhances and enables your life? You may be surprised to find just how much you’ve come to take for granted! What are some of the products that enhance your life the most? Share your thoughts & keep up with everyday tech, follow me in twitter @aghils .