Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Microsoft Unveils the Second-Generation Surface

In the midst of trying to keep up with a metric ass-tonne of iOS news, a couple of stories slipped through the cracks. First up, Microsoft’s brand new Surfaces were unveiled. They look pretty much the same as the first generation, except they now come in silver. They’re still selling both an ARM-based model and an Intel “Pro” model, which I still find extremely confusing — just imagine how difficult it is for customers, too.

I also don’t fully understand why buyers of the Surface 2 (the ARM one) and Surface RT (which is still on sale), priced at $449 and $349 respectively, receive a free copy of Office, while buyers of the $899 Surface Pro 2 do not. I kind of get that Microsoft assumes that purchasers of the professional product will be more willing to buy it, netting the company an additional purchase. Still seems like a dick move.

There are a bunch of new covers that you can buy for either product. The Touch Cover, with the touch-style keyboard on it, is now backlit, which is extremely cool. There was also a neat cover shown at the unveiling which looked like it was inspired by an old Akai controller. It, apparently, won’t be going on sale. Sucks.

I doubt the bevy of accessories are going to move many more Surfaces, though. I doubt many people buy a tablet because they can buy a mouse for it. On the other hand, if Microsoft made these covers for iPads, I bet they’d sell loads of them.

Also, the well-connected Mary Jo Foley has sources telling her that a smaller variant of the Surface isn’t going to be released until spring of 2014. Microsoft is playing catch-up in the tablet market, and you don’t catch up by going slower than everyone else. That — and keyboards built only for a product which the marketplace isn’t very enthusiastic about — simply won’t be enough to compensate.