First-generation Microsoft Surface computers will be Wi-Fi only – reports claim

22 Jun 2012

It is being reported that the first versions of Microsoft’s new Surface tablet computers will be Wi-Fi only as no deals have been struck with mobile operators, such was the secrecy of the project.

It has also been claimed that the Surface device for the ARM version will cost US$599 when it is released in the autumn and the beefier Intel-based Pro version will start at US$999 on release.

Business news site Bloomberg referred to two people familiar with the matter. It pointed out that Wi-Fi versions of tablet are the largest share of the market and will enable Microsoft to keep prices down.

According to The Next Web, the prices of the new Microsoft tablet devices – which contrast severely with the entry-level price of other ARM tablets such as the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 Wi-Fi version which start at around US$399 – might be explained by the inclusion of the Type Cover.

The 3mm thin Type Cover doubles as a fully functioning keyboard and trackpad.

While this may explain the higher prices somewhat – Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said the new devices would be priced around the same level as current ultrabooks – I am more concerned about the failure to include 3G or 4G capabilities in the first-generation Surface devices.

Bear in mind Microsoft hasn’t officially confirmed anything yet, but I believe cellular connectivity should be available from day one, especially if Microsoft wants to capture the lucrative BYOD enterprise market early on.

Here are the specs that Microsoft released earlier this week:

Surface for Windows RT
·        OS: Windows RT
·        Light (1): 676g
·        Thin (2): 9.3mm
·        Clear: 10.6″ ClearType HD Display
·        Energised: 31.5 W-h
·        Connected: microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD Video, 2 x 2 MIMO antennae
·        Productive: Office ’15’ Apps, Touch Cover, Type Cover
·        Practical: VaporMg Case & Stand
·        Configurable: 32 GB, 64 GB

Surface for Windows 8 Pro
·        OS: Windows 8 Pro
·        Light (1): 903g
·        Thin (2): 13.5mm
·        Clear: 10.6″ ClearType Full HD Display
·        Energised: 42 W-h
·        Connected: microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort Video, 2 x 2 MIMO antennae
·        Productive: Touch Cover, Type Cover, Pen with Palm Block
·        Practical: VaporMg Case & Stand
·        Configurable: 64GB, 128GB

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years