This afternoon, Microsoft held a a presentation to celebrate the launch of its in-house Windows RT tablet, the Surface. The event, held separately from the main Windows 8 launch presentation, focused on the premium nature of the device and featured a potentially risky drop test.
Since its announcement earlier this year, Microsoft has been eager to frame the Surface tablet as an innovative, fully-featured and premium device. That point was underlined today when Panos Panay, general manager of Microsoft Surface, took attendees through some of the premium hardware features. There were two stand-out moments – the first came when, in an effort to highlight the sturdiness of the magnetic connection to the tablet's Touch Cover, Panos held the device up by the cover alone before effortlessly removing it seconds later.
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Microsoft then staged a rather gutsy move in the form of a live, on-stage drop test. Everyone in the room had their camera lenses focused firmly on the Surface as Panos confidently dropped it from standing height. Thankfully, the tablet was unharmed by the stunt. The efforts to underline the tablet's sturdy nature went one one step further when Steven Sinofsky, President of the Windows and Windows Live division, came on stage holding a Surface tablet that the team had comically converted into a skateboard.
There were other demonstrations that highlighted the angled rear-camera, the versatility afforded by the full-sized USB port and most notably, a typing demo. The last of these is significant, as we saw solid proof that the Touch Cover is capable of providing a full typing experience. We're sure that Panos has had more than a little time to perfect his typing on the Touch Cover, but we were impressed nonetheless.
Lastly, the team made a move to emphasize that the Surface RT is capable of genuine productivity when, towards the end of the event, they revealed that both the Excel roll-call for the presentation, and the on-stage Powerpoint were being run from Surface tablets. The Office suite was completed when Panos revealed that one of the attendees was writing a post covering the announcement from the event, you guessed it, also using a Surface tablet.
The version of the Surface being launched alongside Window 8 runs a stripped-back version of the OS, known as Windows RT. The RT OS doesn't have access to the traditional Windows Desktop, but instead focuses on the touch-centric tile UI. Windows RT is compatible with the Windows Store for apps, but won't be able to run existing Windows applications.