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Microsoft's Surface tablet: everything you need to know

At a mysterious event in Los Angeles, Microsoft launched the new Surface, but instead of a table-sized device the company unveiled a 10.6-inch tablet running Windows 8. In addition to the new software and hardware, Microsoft showed off a handful of new accessories, including 3mm-thick cases with multitouch or tactile keyboards. To see everything as it happened, you can read through our liveblog, or check out all the news below.

  • Chris Welch

    Jul 1, 2013

    Chris Welch

    Microsoft set to bring 256GB Surface Pro to North America for $1,199.99 (update)

    Microsoft Surface Pro better stock 1020
    Microsoft Surface Pro better stock 1020

    A Surface Pro with more storage is coming to North America. WPCentral first spotted the retail listing at CDW.com — one of Microsoft's authorized vendors — confirming that a 256GB version of the tablet is set to go on sale imminently with availability expected in the next week. The larger capacity, twice that of Apple's roomiest iPad, first debuted in Japan earlier this month. US retail cost is set at $1,199.99. Aside from the larger flash drive, the Surface Pro's hardware remains entirely unchanged. That means an upgrade to Intel's latest Haswell processors (and the uptick in battery life that would presumably result) will have to wait for another day. We've reached out to Microsoft for more information on availability of the 256GB Surface Pro and will update this story upon hearing back.

    Update: Microsoft has reached out to clarify that the 256GB Surface Pro is squarely aimed at its business customers. In fact, securing one as a general consumer is likely to be all but impossible — at least right now. In a Q&A Microsoft has posted on the new device, the company notes that authorized resellers carrying the 256GB Surface Pro are only permitted to sell to business, public sector, and education customers.

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  • Chris Welch

    Apr 23, 2013

    Chris Welch

    Microsoft makes Surface available in more countries, Pro model hits UK next month

    Microsoft Surface RT stock
    Microsoft Surface RT stock

    Microsoft has announced a sweeping international expansion of Surface Pro availability. Until this point, Microsoft's top-tier Windows 8 tablet has only been for sale in the US, Canada, and China. But by the end of next month, that's going to change in a big way; Microsoft says Surface Pro will reach the UK, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland by the end of May. In June, the international tour will continue with availability planned in Russia, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. The company's base Surface RT product has already seen much wider availability overseas, but Microsoft plans to add Korea and Thailand to that list by the time June wraps up.

    Speaking to Surface Pro availability in North America, Microsoft says its had trouble keeping the 128GB model on shelves so far, but is confident that retailers and its own stores should now be adequately stocked.

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  • Tom Warren

    Feb 8, 2013

    Tom Warren

    Microsoft underestimated its own Surface Pro storage, tests show

    Microsoft Surface RT stock
    Microsoft Surface RT stock

    Microsoft's original Surface Pro storage estimates, that the company supplied to The Verge, are incorrect. In a series of tests, Ed Bott over at ZDNet has found that a 128GB model of the Surface Pro actually has 89.7GB of free usable space compared to the incorrect 83GB figure. It appears the reason for Microsoft's mistaken values stems from a difference between pre-production and final shipping hardware.

    "A source inside Microsoft tells me the employee who confirmed the numbers did so using pre-production machines that contained different disk images and debug code that is different from final shipping units that will be on sale beginning this weekend," explains Bott. The result is that the Surface Pro 128GB model gets around 8 percent more space than Microsoft originally estimated. Microsoft's own figures suggested that a 64GB model would only have 23GB of usable storage, but the company revealed earlier this week that final production units are shipping with around 6-7GB of additional space.

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  • Tom Warren

    Feb 6, 2013

    Tom Warren

    Microsoft addresses Surface Pro battery life and storage concerns in Reddit AMA

    Microsoft Surface Pro tablet (875px)
    Microsoft Surface Pro tablet (875px)

    Reviews of Microsoft's latest Surface Pro tablet went live late last night, and Microsoft has been answering a number of questions from Reddit's community today during an AMA session. Two hot topics are around the battery life and usable storage. Microsoft previously revealed to The Verge that its 64GB Surface Pro model would only have around 23GB of usable storage, but the company says its initial estimates "were conservative." Final production units are arriving with around 6-7GB of additional space, bringing the total up to 30GB on the 64GB model.

    It seems a recovery partition is taking up additional space, but Microsoft says this can be removed. A Surface spokesperson says the company didn't want users to lose a USB recovery key and that it ships with a recovery partition to ensure users can restore quickly if need be. Microsoft admits it was a tough design choice "to make as an engineering team."

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  • Tom Warren

    Feb 4, 2013

    Tom Warren

    Surface off to a slow start, but Microsoft will reveal sales figures eventually

    start button
    start button

    Despite rumors of Microsoft building three to five million tablets for its Surface RT launch, it appears that the company may have only shipped less than one million in the recent quarter. IDC says the figure is "just shy of 900,000 units into the channel," as Microsoft looks to compete with other tablet makers. "There is no question that Microsoft is in this tablet race to compete for the long haul," says IDC's Ryan Reith. "Reaction to the company's Surface with Windows RT tablet was muted at best."

    Microsoft has pumped millions into advertising campaigns for Windows 8 and its new Surface tablets, but the holiday execution was less than perfect. The slow reaction could be blamed on a number of factors, including a lack of retail presence and supply issues. Speaking to The Verge, Microsoft's Tami Reller admits that "there was more demand for touch devices from consumers than we were able to meet with supply," while looking to the company's retail expansion plans as a sign it's serious about the long term of Surface.

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  • Tom Warren

    Jan 29, 2013

    Tom Warren

    Microsoft's 64GB Surface Pro will only have 23GB usable storage (update)

    Surface Pro
    Surface Pro

    Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet, due on February 9th, will have a smaller amount of storage space than expected. A company spokesperson has confirmed to The Verge that the 64GB edition of Surface Pro will have 23GB of free storage out of the box. The 128GB model will have 83GB of free storage. It appears that the Windows 8 install, built-in apps, and a recovery partition will make up the 41GB total on the base Surface Pro model.

    Microsoft says users will be able to free up additional storage space by "creating a backup bootable USB and deleting the recovery partition," but out of the box they'll be left with as little as 36 percent of the advertised storage available. The storage situation is similar to Microsoft's Surface RT tablet. The Windows RT operating system, that powers Surface RT, accounts for half of the 32GB disk space on the entry model. Microsoft's Surface Pro supports USB 3.0 hard drives and microSDXC cards, meaning there are ways to extend the storage.

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  • Tom Warren

    Oct 26, 2012

    Tom Warren

    Surface orders delayed in the UK, Microsoft hands out £50 store coupon as a peace offering

    windows8 surface
    windows8 surface

    Microsoft's Surface launch may have gone smoothly in New York, but orders across the pond in Britain aren't going as well. The software giant has been unable to ship units to customers in the UK on time, and several readers have contacted us to let us know that deliveries have not arrived. Microsoft did previously warn customers that Surface would be delayed until November 2nd in the UK, but the company later claimed that was a mistake. It appears the Surface units are being dispatched today, but they won't be delivered until early next week.

    Microsoft is providing a peace offering to pre-order customers in the form of a £50 ($80) coupon to spend at its online store. It's not quite a refund of sorts, but it cushions the blow for disappointed Surface customers in the UK. We've reached out to Microsoft for further information on the Surface delivery delays and we'll update you accordingly when the company returns out request for comment.

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  • Tom Warren

    Oct 26, 2012

    Tom Warren

    Surface launch at Times Square: at Microsoft, it's hip to be square

    Surface launch
    Surface launch

    Today marks the beginning of Windows 8 and a new era for Microsoft, a company that has struggled to win over consumers' hearts in recent years. At a launch event in New York last night, Microsoft flexed its marketing muscles for all to see. From taking over the famous digital screens at Times Square, to rows and rows of outside areas with Windows 8 machines, Microsoft created what can only be described as an expensive spectacle.

    A holiday pop-up store in the heart of Times Square proved to be the focal point for Microsoft's Surface and Windows 8 launch. The software giant let press, VIPs, and some customers lining up outside into the store ahead of a midnight debut to buy a Surface. Microsoft was only selling Surface devices here, but that didn't seem to stop the crowds and passers by from showing interest.

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  • Tom Warren

    Oct 20, 2012

    Tom Warren

    Initial Surface US pre-orders sold out, some UK orders delayed to November 2nd (update)

    Surface stock pink
    Surface stock pink

    Microsoft's initial stock of Surface RT devices has sold out in the United States. The 32GB base model, at $499, sold out earlier in the week, but all stock has now been depleted with a wait time of within three weeks rather than a guaranteed October 26th delivery. Alongside the sell out, a number of UK readers are reporting that Microsoft has delayed the release of Surface by a week.

    "The release date for the preorder product has changed," reads an email sent to some buyers who pre-ordered a Surface in the UK. "The product listed below will now be available on 02 November 2012." It's not clear from Microsoft why the Surface is delayed in the UK, but we understand from sources that it could be due to units being held by UK customs. Microsoft has started taking pre-orders for Surface at its retail stores in the US, with a "limited number of reservation cards" being handed out for the release on October 26th. We have reached out to Microsoft for clarification on the November 2nd release date and we'll update you accordingly.

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  • Sean Hollister

    Oct 17, 2012

    Sean Hollister

    With Surface looming, Microsoft fails to explain Windows 8 vs. Windows RT to consumers

    Microsoft Surface stock 1200
    Microsoft Surface stock 1200

    With only nine days remaining before an October 26th launch, Microsoft's Windows 8 marketing campaign is approaching full force. With an estimated $1.5 billion budget, Redmond is plastering subway stations, spraying walls and sidewalks, erecting website banners and planning holiday pop-up stores, not to mention running expensive commercials on national television. So far, Microsoft is focusing much of that effort on promoting its flagship Surface tablet, which went on pre-order yesterday.

    There's only one problem: Microsoft's Surface RT doesn't actually run Windows 8.

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  • David Pierce

    Oct 16, 2012

    David Pierce

    Microsoft's Surface available for pre-order in eight countries, shipping October 26th

    Surface ad
    Surface ad

    We've been hearing about the Surface for the better part of six months, but in all that time Microsoft has kept secret what might be the tablet's most important feature: its price. After revealing the price earlier today, the device goes up for pre-order (starting at 12PM ET), so the secret's out: you can buy a Windows RT-powered Surface starting at $499. They ship by October 26th. Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky referred to the desire to match "our competitor" when asked about the price at an event in Redmond this week, so it's no accident that the 10.6-inch Surface equals the price of the iPad.

    Unfortunately, the introductory price doesn't include the cool Touch Cover case — that bundle costs $599. The cheapest model does include 32GB of storage, which technically makes the tablet cheaper than Apple's device; the 32GB iPad costs $599. There's also a 64GB Surface model, but it's only sold with the Touch Cover and costs $699. The Touch Cover itself costs $119, and the tactile Type Cover is $129. Everything is available for pre-order now from Microsoft's website, and will be available in Microsoft Stores and online in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and the United States starting October 26th.

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  • David Pierce

    Oct 16, 2012

    David Pierce

    Under the Surface: an inside look at how Microsoft's tablet came to be

    Microsoft Surface
    Microsoft Surface

    "Tape and strings literally made Surface."

    Panos Panay, general manager of the team behind the Microsoft Surface, touches an old mockup made of black and white plastic. He's forgetting glue, certainly – two panels appear to have been hot-glued to form the "tablet" part of the device — but tape and strings really are two key ingredients in this prototype, the one Panay's team used to show off what Surface would look like. It's crude and fragile, but it's also unmistakably Surface.

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  • Tom Warren

    Oct 16, 2012

    Tom Warren

    Microsoft Surface RT priced at $499 or $599 with Touch Cover keyboard

    Surface
    Surface

    After announcing its Surface tablets nearly four months ago, Microsoft has now unveiled the pricing for both of its ARM-based Surface RT tablets at its Microsoft online stores. The 10.6-inch Surface, powered by Windows RT, will go on sale on October 26th and will be priced starting at $499 for the 32GB version without Touch Cover and a 32GB version with the Touch Cover for $599. Microsoft is also offering 64GB model for $699 with a Touch Cover included. The 9.3mm thin tablet weighs just 1.5lbs and includes a built-in kickstand and vapor-deposited (PVD) magnesium case.

    Microsoft listed its Surface pricing at its online Microsoft Store this morning, indicating that pre-orders will be available shortly. The company has also listed the prices for its Touch Cover, at $119.99 each, and Type Cover for $129.99. The Touch Cover appears to be available in white, red, black, blue, and purple colors – while the Type Cover is listed as a single item in black.

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  • Tom Warren

    Oct 16, 2012

    Tom Warren

    Microsoft reportedly building 3 to 5 million Surface tablets this quarter

    Surface stock
    Surface stock

    Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer may not have seemed serious about selling the company's Surface tablets, describing them as "just a design point" that the company "may sell a few million" of over the next 12 months, but it looks like the software giant is determined to compete with Surface. The Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft has placed orders to manufacture between 3 and 5 million Surface tablets in the fourth quarter.

    Mass production of the devices reportedly began earlier this month, and the company appears to be preparing to take pre-orders for Surface soon. Microsoft's first Surface ad aired on US TV earlier this week, alongside similar ads for Windows 8. Suppliers who spoke to The Wall Street Journal claim that the 3 to 5 million figure is similar to the orders placed for the Kindle Fire tablets and Nexus 7 by Amazon and Google respectively.

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  • Aaron Souppouris

    Oct 16, 2012

    Aaron Souppouris

    Microsoft Surface banner ads hint at pre-order availability

    Steve Ballmer Microsoft Surface
    Steve Ballmer Microsoft Surface

    Gizmodo has an ad for Microsoft's Surface tablet currently running on its front page. The advert says that Surface is now open for pre-order and invites you to "buy now," but clicking on it redirects you to a Bing search for "Surface Microsoftstore." It's likely that an error has led to the advertisement running early, but this could be an indication that Microsoft is planning to finally announce its Windows RT tablet's pricing and availability today. The Verge user Tylers86 has spotted the same adverts running over on AllThingsD.

    A quick Google search for "Surface" at the Microsoft Store returns a store listing that is unfortunately not yet live, but using Google's thumbnail cache reveals a product listing pricing the Surface at $0.00 — an incomplete listing, we're sure. Microsoft traditionally makes announcements on Tuesdays, so it looks as though the wait for Surface pricing may be over.

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  • Tom Warren

    Oct 16, 2012

    Tom Warren

    First Microsoft Surface ad airs on national TV ahead of October 26th release

    Surface ad
    Surface ad

    Microsoft's first ad for its Surface tablet will start to air on national TV this evening. The software maker will air the ad during Monday Night Football on ESPN. Following the initial Windows 8 TV ads, the Surface campaign marks the next step in Microsoft's marketing blitz — which will reportedly cost the company over $1 billion.

    The ad features a play on the click sound generated from the kickstand on the device and the magnetic keyboard. Microsoft doesn't reveal any important pricing information with the ad, but the company confirms it will go on sale on October 26th — alongside Windows 8.

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  • Tom Warren

    Oct 15, 2012

    Tom Warren

    Microsoft's Surface graffiti ads go global, French version hints at European launch

    Surface ads France (twitter)
    Surface ads France (twitter)

    While Microsoft has confirmed its Surface RT tablet will launch on October 26th in the US, the company has yet to announce international availability. An initial announcement of the Surface tablets referenced availability "through select online Microsoft Stores," suggesting that major international markets would be catered for.

    Surface ads have now started appearing in Paris, with the "clic" tagline. The ads look identical to the ones found across a number of US cities, and could hint at the availability of the Surface RT in Europe. While Microsoft plans to sell its Surface tablet in US Microsoft Stores and special holiday pop-up stores, the company's previous online verbiage suggests that it won't be available in retail shops in France. Still, a global Surface ad campaign makes it clear that Microsoft is serious about selling its first tablet hardware domestically and internationally. There's just one question left, how much will it cost?

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  • Tom Warren

    Oct 4, 2012

    Tom Warren

    Microsoft to launch Surface at midnight on October 26th

    Surface launch
    Surface launch

    Microsoft has not yet confirmed pricing for its Surface tablet, with CEO Steve Ballmer hinting that "probably $300 to about $700 or $800" is the "sweet spot" for pricing.

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  • Tom Warren

    Sep 26, 2012

    Tom Warren

    Ballmer flashes his Surface tablet in an effort to woo Windows 8 app developers

    Ballmer (Microsoft Bizspark
    Ballmer (Microsoft Bizspark

    Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is a busy man this month and next. After helping to unveil Nokia and HTC Windows Phone 8 devices, he's back on the road again visiting Silicon Valley-based tech startup accelerator RocketSpace. In a rare private event, Ballmer and Windows CFO Tami Reller discussed the Windows 8 developer opportunity and a variety of hardware options for end users. Wired reports that Ballmer briefly demonstrated a Surface RT tablet, highlighting the Touch Cover — which he threw to a developer in the crowd — and kickstand options.

    Talking to a person present at the event, we understand the Surface RT was Ballmer's personal device and was quickly ushered into a bag at the conclusion of his talk — not available for attendees to get a look and feel. RocketSpace founder and CEO Duncan Logan questioned Ballmer about Surface pricing, but much like earlier this month he remained tight lipped. "We’ll release pricing before we ship. We’ve been clear that’s in the not too distant future, but not today," he said. Ballmer revealed earlier this month that "probably $300 to about $700 or $800" is the "sweet spot" for pricing. Microsoft is understood to be planning a midnight launch event for Surface on the evening of October 25th.

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  • Tom Warren

    Aug 23, 2012

    Tom Warren

    Microsoft Surface street art ads appear in New York

    Gallery Photo: Surface ad in Brooklyn photos
    Gallery Photo: Surface ad in Brooklyn photos

    Microsoft's new Surface might not be launching until October 26th, but the company appears to be kicking off its marketing for the Windows RT-powered tablet a little early. A building wall in New York City has been taken over by three tablet outlines — similar to the ones used in Microsoft's unveiling of the Surface back in June. While there's no pricing information or other details, the street art shows off a trio of colors for the Surface keyboards — similar to the Surface cake displayed at Microsoft's Windows 8 party.

    We've reached out to Microsoft to clarify whether the company was involved in the creation of the street art and we're waiting to hear back from a spokesperson. The street art mimics similar marketing tactics used by Microsoft for its MSN launch in 2002 and Windows Phone 7 introduction in 2010. Both graffiti art occasions angered city officials at the time, with the MSN butterfly campaign resulting in a $50 fine for sticking MSN butterflies on sidewalks, traffic signals, and stop signs.

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  • Tom Warren

    Jul 10, 2012

    Tom Warren

    Ballmer on Microsoft's Surface: 'we may sell a few million'

    Steve Ballmer Microsoft Surface
    Steve Ballmer Microsoft Surface

    Speaking at the Worldwide Partner Conference in Canada this week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer revealed his expectations for the company's new Surface tablet. Describing the Windows 8-powered Surface as "just a design point," Ballmer believes Microsoft "may sell a few million" of its tablets over the next 12 months as part of a forecast for 375 million Windows PC shipments. Stressing the "importance" of Microsoft's OEM partners, Ballmer says the company is "excited about the work" hardware manufacturers are doing for Windows 8. "We need partners to have that diversity of devices," said Ballmer, pointing out that he's unsure exactly how many Surface tablets will be sold.

    Hardware manufacturers appear to be readying mainly Intel-based Windows 8 tablets for the operating system's launch in late October. Microsoft is also supporting ARM-based chipsets with Windows 8, but so far only Asus and Microsoft have unveiled Windows RT devices — with rumors that Dell and Samsung will also ship ones later this year. The software giant revealed this week that Windows 8 is "on track" for Release to Manufacturing (RTM) in the first week of August, with a public release due in late October.

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  • Bryan Bishop

    Jun 20, 2012

    Bryan Bishop

    Surface: PC makers offer no comment as reports conflict on when Microsoft gave them the news

    Microsoft Surface
    Microsoft Surface

    Microsoft's debut of the Surface family of tablets wowed on several levels yesterday, not the least of which is the fact that Redmond will be moving into direct competition with some of the hardware partners it relied upon to build the dominance of Windows. Acer and Lenovo have both shown off Windows 8 tablets in recent weeks, with Dell, HP, and others expected to follow. Microsoft's first-party option now has the potential to upset what has been a stable relationship between hardware maker and software provider. We reached out to Microsoft's partners for their response, and found them quite reluctant to comment on the situation.

    HP and Acer declined to offer statements on Microsoft's product plans or its implications for the Windows 8 tablet market. Dell, however, noted that Microsoft was "an important partner" for the company — and that it would be delivering Windows 8 tablets of its own later in the year. Lenovo toed the same line, though a company representative did state that its selection of Android and Windows-based tablets put it in a "very strong position" to win "against all comers."

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  • Joshua Topolsky

    Jun 19, 2012

    Joshua Topolsky

    With the Surface, Microsoft just started writing its next chapter

    Microsoft Surface event
    Microsoft Surface event

    I first met Steven Bathiche when I took a trip to Microsoft's campus to check out what the company had been doing in the research and development department. Microsoft PR had sworn to me that I would be blown away by the "cool things" the company was doing, and I wanted to see for myself (you can watch the results here, here, and here).

    Stevie's lab was located in a dark corner of one of the many, large buildings within the company's Seattle sprawl. The second I walked inside, it was clear the work happening inside was safely in the realm of mad science. Bathiche showed me a project he's been working on for some time which would allow you to create a virtual window from one room to another, utilizing a variety of display, motion sensing, and 3D technologies. He dubbed it the "magic wall."

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  • Jun 19, 2012

    Vlad Savov

    Microsoft Surface tablets have new MagSafe-like connector, may transmit both power and data

    MS connector
    MS connector

    It might be the first time we're seeing it in the metallic flesh, but Microsoft has actually filed for a patent covering a power and data connector that looks remarkably similar. Though the company's patent application doesn't give too much away, its illustrative drawings look exactly like the slot we're seeing on its new Surface tablets. The key specifications from the application — which, coincidentally, was just made public on June 14th — are about its symmetrical shape and magnetic coupling to devices, leading us to believe that Microsoft is indeed on its way to creating a MagSafe competitor to go with its freshly introduced iPad rivals. We've asked the company for comment on what these mysterious connectors might be and will update you on anything we hear back.

    Update: As noted by jeremy.ironside in our comments, Mike Angiulo did acknowledge this as a "magnetic charging connector" during Microsoft's presentation event, but he also failed to provide any further details. Notably, Microsoft also kept all the charging cables out of sight during the post-event hands-on time we had, so it seems like the company's not yet ready to fully detail this new interconnect.

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