With Its New Surface Tablets, Microsoft Hopes The Second Time's The Charm

Microsoft's Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 are now a reality: A reboot of the original Windows tablets with more power.

At a press event today Microsoft revealed its next big attempt to attract the tablet-buying public: Brand-new Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 hardware. As a key part of the redesign of these two machines, Microsoft seems to have channeled Tim Taylor's Tool Time, injecting what can only be described as "more power."

The Surface 2 is a slightly lighter successor to the first RT tablet, which has been widely acknowledged to have been a complete flop. It has a 10.6-inch 1080p screen, better than the original but nowhere near an Apple Retina display. It's powered by a quad-core Tegra ARM chip, 2GB of RAM, and has 10 hours of battery life--25% better than the first edition. The signature built-in "Kickstand" flap now has two positions, at 40 degrees of lean and the original 20, which solves one of the design flaws. It's priced at $449 and upwards. Naming it something other than "RT" also seems like a smart move. And in a vaguely Apple-esque move, Microsoft is keeping the old RT edition on sale at a cheap-ish $349, noting it can be updated to the new Windows 8.1 OS.

The Surface Pro 2 is more powerful and has a better battery life than its predecessor--which it still closely resembles. It has a Haswell Intel Core i5 CPU inside running at 1.6 gigahertz. Boldly, Microsoft says it is more powerful than 95% of laptops available today. The company is stressing that this really is a full-featured machine, and the natural successor to the laptop. MS says it has 60% more battery life, and this can be extended by the newly announced (if much rumored) Power Cover, which acts much like the original typing peripherals but can also charge the Surface up. The tablet costs $899 and upwards, which--shrewd eyes will spot--prices it above many of the laptops that Microsoft says its specs outclass.

Is this a bold move by Microsoft, something akin to the Xbox 360? Will its power persuade buyers of the merits of using an MS tablet instead of the ubiquitous--and soon to improve--Apple iPad? Or is it a desperate attempt to win market share that harks back to the old days of ever-more-powerful PCs?

This story is developing, check back here later for more in-depth analysis by Fast Company's own Austin Carr, who is at Microsoft's event.

[Image and video courtesy of Microsoft]

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