Microsoft planning additional Surface tablets

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Jan 252013
 
Microsoft

Microsoft may have a good reason for not disclosing sales numbers for its Surface Windows RT; general concensus is that it is selling quite slowly. One estimate suggests that only one million were sold in Q4 2012. One factor working against the Surface is its relatively high cost – it starts at US$ / CA$ . The upcoming Surface Windows 8 Pro tablet will likely face a similar challenge with its price starting at US$999/CA$1019. That does not mean that Microsoft is ready to give up on the Surface. Calling it “one part of the overall Windows 8 story,” it instead plans to offer more models covering a wider number of price points.

Asked about goals for the Surface on yesteray’s earnings call, Peter Klein, Microsoft’s CFO, said:

Our goal is to continue to build that business to highlight the incredible power of Windows 8 in an interesting set of devices. We are going to expand geographically. We are going to expand the product line up. We are going to expand retail distribution and capacity. So we look forward to continuing the growth of that business.

He later added that Microsoft was looking to offer “a greater variety of devices at a bigger variety of price points.” No further details were given about these future devices. earlier rumours have suggested we could see three new Surface models including a smaller Surface RT 2 with an 8.6-inch display, a larger Surface Pro model with an 11.6-inch display and a “Surface Book” with a 14.6-inch display and a 22nm Intel “Haswell” chip. At first glance, only the first appears set to have a lower price point than current models, sugesting that Microsoft may look to its hardware partners to drive down the cost of Windows tablets while the Surface ones remain more of a premium device.

Read more: Seeking Alpha (Source: Venture Beat)

Canadian pricing for the upcoming Surface Windows 8 Pro

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Jan 232013
 

Surface Windows 8 ProMicrosoft yesterday announced that the Surface Windows 8 Pro tablet would hit stores on February 9th. As expected, Canadian pricing will be slightly higher than U.S. pricing. The 64GB model will sell for CA$919 and the 128GB model for CA$1019. Much as we saw with the Surface RT pricing, Canadian pricing adds a CA$20 premium to the U.S. pricing. This is somewhat surprising as the Canadian dollar is now stronger than the U.S. one. You can probably chalk it up to additional transportation and distribution costs for Canada.

The optional Touch and Type Covers will continue to sell for CA$129 and CA$139 respectively.

Microsoft Canada also announced the 64GB version of the Surface Windows RT will be available in a new 64GB standalone version for CA$619. Previously only available with a bundled black Touch Cover, customers will now be able to choose what if any Cover they want to buy.

The Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro will be available in Canada from the Microsoft retail stores, microsoftstore.com, and a number of other still-unspecified “locations.”

Read more: Microsoft Canada

Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro launch in Canada and U.S. set for February 9th

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Jan 222013
 

Microsoft Surface Windows 8 ProMicrosoft today announced that its Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro tablet (renamed from the original Microsoft Surface Pro with Windows 8) will launch in Canada and the U.S. on February 9th, only slightly later than it had originally promised.

Surface Windows 8 Pro is an exciting new addition to the Surface family, bringing a powerful, work-ready device that is just at home in the boardroom as it is the family room. Whether you’re a road warrior, a student or someone who just wants a flexible and powerful Intel PC, the Surface Windows 8 Pro will deliver. It’s the perfect complement to the Surface Windows RT and delivers hours and hours of entertainment with plenty of power and productivity to get your work done as well.

Unlike the Windows Surface RT, the Surface Windows 8 Pro will not be limited to a subset of applications and will run the full gamut of Windows applications. As a tradeoff though, it will be slightly thicker and heavier.

Microsoft already announced pricing back in November: US$899 for the 64GB model and US$999 for the the 128GB one. Pricing in Canada may be slightly higher if Windows RT tablet pricing (CA$20 higher) is any indication. Both versions will come with a Surface pen with Palm Block technology. Accessories including the Touch Cover and Type Cover will be sold separately.

The Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro will be available through all Microsoft retail stores, microsoftstore.com and at Staples and Best Buy in the U.S. as well as from a number of locations in Canada. Other markets will follow in the coming weeks.

Read more: The Official Microsoft Blog

ASUS considering Windows Phone 8 including Padfone model

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Jan 172013
 
ASUS

Things are looking for the Windows Phone 8 operating system. According to The Wall Street Journal, ASUS is the latest manufacturer to be considering making devices powered by Microsoft’s mobile operating system. Benson Lin, corporate vice president of mobile communication products confirmed that ASUS is currently engaged in licensing discussions with Microsoft. “There is no target timeline… but we are interested in making Windows phones.”

Lin also revealed that ASUS proposed to Microsoft to develop a Padfone device powered by Windows 8. The current ASUS Padfone 2 is an Android-powered smartphone that docks into a tablet accessory. “With our Padfone concept, the phone plus tablet, I think it makes sense for Windows 8,” Mr. Lin said.

Given that Microsoft offers Windows Phone 8 for smartphones and Windows 8 for tablets and PCs, it will be interesting to see how the Padfone would work. Could it use Windows Phone 8 in smartphone mode and switch to Windows 8 when docked? Or will ASUS wait for the rumoured Windows Blue release which is supposed to bring Windows 8 to smaller-screens?

The report adds that ASUS is currently also in discussion with U.S. carriers to bring its phones to the U.S. perhaps as early as next year.

Read more: The Wall Street Journal

Microsoft Surface RT sales only reach 1 million last quarter?

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Jan 142013
 

Microsoft SurfaceMicrosoft’s tablet business may be off to a slow start. Rumours back in November suggested that Microsoft had reduced its 2012 orders from 4 million to 2 million units. UBS analyst Brent Thill now expects that Microsoft may have only sold about 1 million Surface RT tablets in Q4 2012. Thill cites two reasons for the low sales: “Surface RT is a consumer device with [fourth-quarter] sales suffering from the difficult iPad compare and narrow distribution.”

Such numbers could well justify Samsung’s recent decision not to launch its Windows RT-powered ATIV Tab tablet in the U.S.

Thill expects that Surface sales may improve with the launch of the upcoming Surface with Windows 8 Pro. He describes it as “more promising” as he expects that it will be a credible alternative to the Apple iPad in the enterprise space.

Thill estimates that Microsoft could sell about 2.5 million Surface tablets by the end of June when Microsoft’s fiscal 2013 year ends. Sales could climb to 8 million in FY2014. As a comparison, Apple is expected to have sold over 20 million iPads in the same period.

Read more: CNET

Windows RT Samsung ATIV Tab tablet to skip U.S.

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Jan 112013
 

Samsung ATIV TabIt appears that Samsung is having second thoughts about Windows RT. The company this week revealed that it will not launch its Samsung ATIV Tab tablet in the U.S. Its plans for other global markets are also in doubt at this point. Mike Abary, the Sasmung senior vice president who heads up the company’s US PC and tablet group, told CNET that demand for Windows RT devices is just not high enough. Not only is retailer interest low but it appears that consumers don’t quite grasp what Windows RT is and offers. According to Abary:

“There wasn’t really a very clear positioning of what Windows RT meant in the marketplace, what it stood for relative to Windows 8, that was being done in an effective manner to the consumer. When we did some tests and studies on how we could go to market with a Windows RT device, we determined there was a lot of heavy lifting we still needed to do to educate the customer on what Windows RT was. And that heavy lifting was going to require pretty heavy investment. When we added those two things up, the investments necessary to educate the consumer on the difference between RT and Windows 8, plus the modest feedback that we got regarding how successful could this be at retail from our retail partners, we decided maybe we ought to wait.”

Abary does not rule out future devices powered by Windows RT. “We want to see how the market develops for RT,” Abary said. “It’s not something we’re shelving permanently. It’s still a viable option for us in the future, but now might not be the right time.” Samsung is not the only manufacturer to come to such a conclusion either. Both HP and Toshiba have also taken a wait-and-see attitude.

Samsung first unveiled the ATIV Tab at IFA back in August along with the Samsung Galaxy Note II and the Galaxy Camera.

Alongside the already available Microsoft Surface RT, ASUS, Dell and HTC are also expected to offer Windows RT devices later this year.

Read more: CNET

Microsoft releases Surface With Windows RT firmware update

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Jan 092013
 

Microsoft SurfaceAs part of its regular “Patch Tuesday,” Microsoft yesterday released an update for the Surface RT. It’s a maintenance release that provides System Firmware (UEFI) improvements including:

  • Improvements to audio playback when in Connected Standby
  • Additional capabilities for handling firmware updates during low battery situations

While many were hoping for some pesky Wi-Fi issue fixes, Microsoft is still “working on getting it resolved.” A fix will need to wait for another update.b

If you have not received the update, you can check for it manually by selecting Settings > Change PC Settings > Windows Update > Check for Updates.

Read more: Microsoft

LG to unveil Tab-Book hybrid tablet-notebook device at CES 2013

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Dec 282012
 
LG Tab-Book

LG has taken the unusual step of announcing its new 2013 PC lineup ahead of CES 2013. The new devices will be on display at the show, including the LG Tab-Book, a hybrid tablet-notebook device.

“This year, we are introducing several innovative PCs designed with one goal in mind — to meet the needs and desires of consumers in an environment which is quickly transitioning to touchscreens,” said Il-geun Kwon, Senior Vice President and Head of the IT Business Unit at the LG Home Entertainment Company. “At CES, LG will be displaying a diverse PC lineup, truly deserving of the next generation moniker.”

Powered by Windows 8, the LG Tab-Book will look like a typical if slightly larger tablet with an 11.6-inch display. 15.9 millimeters thick, a QWERTY keyboard is concealed in the tablet and slides out from underneath the screen when needed. It will also come with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, an HDMI output, a USB port and a microSD slot. It will weigh 1.05 kilograms.

Two variants will be available. The LG Tab-Book (H160) will come with an unspecified processor while the Tab-Book Ultra (Z160) will be powered by an Intel Core i5 processor.

More detailed specifications, pricing and availability were not announced but all should be revealed at CES 2013.

LG will also show off the Windows 8-powered LG Z360 Ultrabook with a Full HD display and the LG All-In-One (AIO) V325 with a 23-inch touchscreen display.

Read more: LG

Upcoming Nokia Windows RT tablet to sport battery-equipped keyboard cover?

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Dec 242012
 
Nokia

New details have emerged about Nokia’s rumoured 10-inch Windows RT tablet.

Most interesting is that Nokia will offer a battery-equipped cover accessory for the tablet. Wrapping around it like a book cover, it will come with a keyboard and kickstand. Its built-in battery will kick in once the tablet’s own battery runs out. It will also sport two USB ports.

The report also confirms that the tablet itself will sport a 10.1-inch display. It will also include cellular connectivity as well as HDMI and USB ports. AT&T looks to be first in line to offer the tablet in the U.S. Perhaps we will see it in Canada as well.

Nokia will reportedly unveil its Windows RT tablet at MWC in February. It may only build a small number of tablets initially, likely to gauge market reception. A positive reaction would likely see it increase production and potentially look at a Windows 8 tablet as well.

Needless to say, the company said that it does not “comment on market rumour or speculation” when asked to confirm its tablet plans.

Read more: The Verge

HTC working on Windows RT tablets for 2013?

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Dec 212012
 

HTCAfter being rebuffed by Microsoft earlier this year, it now appears that HTC will launch some Windows RT tablets next year. Citing “people familiar with the matter,” Bloomberg reports today that HTC is working on both a 12-inch model as well as a 7-inch one with phone capabilities. Both will be powered by Qualcomm chipsets.

HTC could be among the first to offer a 7-inch Windows RT tablet. It would allow Microsoft and its partners to compete against competing 7-inch tablets such as the Amazon Kindle Fire, Apple iPad mini and Google Nexus 7.

HTC recently confirmed its exit from the U.S. tablet market. It left the door open to a return and it now appears that it could do so in Q3 2013 with its new Windows RT tablets. Could these be the “something unique” HTC has been looking for?

HTC reportedly recently cancelled a large-screen Windows Phone 8 smartphone over concerns that its resolution would not be high enough to compete against competing similarly sized devices.

Read more: Bloomberg

Nokia to unveil 10-inch Windows RT tablet at MWC 2013?

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Dec 192012
 

NokiaRumours that Nokia was working on a tablet have been around since at least November 2011. Since then, there have been numerous hints and suggestions that Nokia was working on a Windows 8 tablet. At one point, it was looking like Nokia would launch one before the end of the year.

It now appears that Nokia’s first tablet will finally see the light of day in early 2013. According to Digitimes, Nokia will unveil a 10-inch Windows RT tablet at Mobile World Congress in late February. Few details are available but Nokia has reportedly been developing it with Microsoft, Qualcomm and Compal Electronics, the same partners as in earlier reports.

The report adds that Nokia in fact delayed the launch of this tablet after finding out that Microsoft would be launching its own Surface tablet in late 2012. Nokia opted to take a wait-and-see attitude to see how the Windows 8/RT tablet market would fare and instead remained focused on its smartphone business.

Nokia has yet to commit to any order volumes and has yet to settle on its marketing plans for the tablet. This would suggest that it may still take a bit of time before the still-unnamed Nokia tablet hits the street.

Read more: Digitimes

Microsoft planning three Surface tablet successors?

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Dec 032012
 

MicrosoftDemand for the Microsoft Surface [product information] may not be quite as high as Microsoft had expected or hoped for but that does not appear to be deterring it from forging ahead with its next generation of tablets. Well known insider MS_nerd today revealed that the company could have three new models in the works for next year:

  • Surface RT 2 with an 8.6-inch display and a Qualcomm chipset (replacing the NVIDIA Tegra 3 used in the current model)
  • New Surface Pro model with an 11.6-inch display and a yet-to-be-released AMD “Temash” APU
  • “Surface Book” with a 14.6-inch display and a 22nm Intel “Haswell” chip

Neither the AMD “Temash,” the successor to AMD’s Hondo tablet-specific APUs, nor the Intel “Haswell” processors, set to succeed current Ivy Bridge processors, are likely to be ready until mid-2013, suggesting that these models will launch in the latter part of 2013. With the Surface with Windows 8 Pro tablet [product information] set to launch in January, the timing does not appear unreasonable.

Past rumours have also indicated that Microsoft is working on a 7-inch Xbox Surface tablet and a Surface smartphone.

Read more: Neowin (Source: BGR)

Microsoft Surface RT supply chain orders cut by half?

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Nov 292012
 

Microsoft SurfaceFollowing rumours that Surface RT sales were not meeting Microsoft’s own sales forecasts comes word that supply chain orders for Microsoft’s tablet have been cut in half. Citing its usual “sources from the upstream supply chain,” Digitimes indicates that Microsoft has reduced its 2012 orders from 4 million to 2 million units. Prospects for the upcoming quarter may not be any better.

And there is more bad news for Microsoft. Lower than expected Windows RT tablet sales do not apppear to be limited to Microsoft. The report adds that Asustek Computer, Samsung Electronics and Dell are also seeing weak demand.

The report closes by suggesting that Microsoft may bump up the launch of its Surface with Windows 8 Pro or reduce its price. That seems unlikely given Microsoft’s announcement earlier today.

Read more: Digitimes

Microsoft Surface with Windows 8 Pro gets priced (Updated)

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Nov 292012
 

Microsoft Surface with Windows 8 ProMicrosoft today announced availability and pricing details for its upcoming Surface with Windows 8 Pro tablet [product information]. Unlike the Microsoft Surface RT [product information], this version will be powered by an Intel Core i5 processor and Windows 8 Pro.

The Microsoft Surface with Windows 8 Pro will be available starting in January 2013 in either 64GB or 128GB configurations. The 64GB will sell for US$899 and the 128GB one for US$999. Both versions will come with a Surface pen with Palm Block technology. Accessories including the Touch Cover and Type Cover will be sold separately. In comparison, the Windows RT version starts at US$499 and comes with an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor and 32GB of storage.

Unlike the Surface RT, the Surface with Windows 8 Pro will run current Windows 7 desktop applications.

Microsoft will announce more specific availability dates in the coming weeks.

Update: According to Microsoft’s @Surface Twitter account, the Surface Pro will have “approximately half” the battery life of the Surface RT. Despite having a larger battery, it will have a more powerful processor and a higher resolution display, both of which will consume more power. With the Surface RT battery life coming in at about 8 hours, we can expect that of the Surface with Windows 8 Pro to come in at about 4 hours.

Read more: The Official Microsoft Blog and @Surface [via Twitter]

Rogers begins taking online reservations for Samsung ATIV S and ATIV PC

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Nov 242012
 

Samsung ATIV SWe still don’t know exactly when the Samsung ATIV S [product information] and Samsung ATIV Smart PC will launch in Canada but Rogers Wireless this week began to take reservations for this upcoming Windows Phone 8 handset and Windows RT tablet.

Current Rogers customers can log into their account to access the National Reservation System. A CA$40 reservation will be required as deposit.

Both the Samsung ATIV S and ATIV PC will be “available in the coming weeks.” They will start at CA$149.99 and CA$399.99 respectively with a three-year contract.

Read more: My Rogers