The wait for Microsoft’s Surface tablet is almost over. The software maker has officially announced that its much-hyped slate will finally land this October alongside the latest iteration of the Windows operating system.
“The next version of our operating system, Windows 8, will be generally available on October 26, 2012. At that time, we will begin selling the Surface, a series of Microsoft-designed and manufactured hardware devices,” the Redmond-based giant revealed via its annual U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission report.
Surface, which was originally introduced as a ‘table’ rather than a tablet, will be the company’s first branded slate as it bids to take on Apple’s iPad and a range of Android slates.
There will be two versions of the tablet. First up is the Windows RT model, which runs a version of Windows 8 designed specially for the tablet interface, and packs an ARM-based NVIDIA Tegra 3+ chipset to keep things ticking over. Applications for this model will be sold directly via the Windows Store.
Also on board are front and rear-facing cameras of as-yet-unknown resolutions, and two storage variants at 32 and 64GB.
Next, we have what you might call the ‘advanced’ Surface. This is powered by an Intel Core i5 dual core processor and operates on Windows 8 Pro, which brings all the features of you can expect from the desktop. It also comes with front and rear-mounted cameras and an additional storage option of 128GB.
Both models will feature a 10.6-inch ‘ClearType’ display with full HD resolution. The RT edition is 9.3mm thick and weighs 676 grams, making it relatively slim and portable. The Windows 8 Pro model, though, is a bulkier proposition, coming at 13.5mm thick and weighing 903 grams.
What’s cool is that the Surface features an integrated kickstand and supports a pretty neat keyboard add-on that doubles as a protective cover. So, essentially it can be used like a netbook if you want to.
Pricing details remains under wraps but there’s no denying they’ll need to be pretty competitive as manufacturers increasingly opt for cheaper slates to spur demand, with Apple itself reportedly planning a smaller, more affordable iPad to stave off the challenge of the Google Nexus 7 and the Amazon Kindle Fire.
We’ll bring you more Surface announcements closer to launch. So stay tuned.