My own immediate question, though, was more mundane:
How well will these Surface tablets work with Skype?
Given that Skype is now part of Microsoft, and that Skype CEO Tony Bates has said the company is focusing on Windows 8, you'd hope it would work well. Throughout all the media frenzy, though, I've seen very little on that... until I scrolled down the "About" page and found this bit (along with the image I'm including in this post):
Surface has not just one, but two cameras. Use the front LifeCam to chat with the people that you care about. The rear-facing LifeCam is angled to 22 degrees so you can flip out the Kickstand and record meetings and events hands-free. Stereo speakers and dual microphones tuned for Skype help you sound like you are right next door.
No further details on that page, nor in their spec sheet, but I'd have to assume that at least the rear-facing camera is an HD camera. Perhaps the front one will be as well. The "dual microphones tuned for Skype" also sounds promising and could in particular help with situations such as that shown in the picture where you are having a group call. The dual microphones could help create a richer audio texture to the call in reflecting where people are in the room.
It's great to see Skype being highlighted in some way, as the tablet form factor lends itself quite well to Skype usage. I've used my iPad for any number of video calls while on the road.
As to "Surface"... we'll have to see. No pricing or availability announced yet, and that will determine a great amount of the traction we'll see for it. As much as I am a great fan of Apple products, and don't expect I'll use one of these Surface tablets anytime soon, it's very good for us as consumers and for the industry in general to see a tablet like this coming out of Microsoft. Competition is good and will only spur the continued evolution that continues to deliver easier and more useful products.
What do you think? Are you looking forward to trying a Surface tablet out? Do you expect Skype will "just work" on the Surface?
More info about Surface:
- Microsoft's news release
- Microsoft's Surface web site
- Techmeme's listing of sites covering the initial launch
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