Microsoft renews assault on tablet market

Despite its first foray into the tablet market resulting in financial and public relations disaster, Microsoft has taken criticism on board and is having another crack at the market. The Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro will launch in 22 initial markets in late October, bringing Windows RT 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Pro to users in tablet form.

The original Surface cost Microsoft $900m in unsold inventory and shifted less than one million units during its first quarter of launch. The firm has since slashed prices for the tablet and bundled free accessories in a bid to move stock.

But the two latest revisions benefit from significant updates, including improvements to processing power and battery life, to display and camera resolution, the company said. Microsoft is also making the most of its ownership of Skype, giving surface 2 users free Skype calling to landlines in more than 60 countries for one year, unlimited Skype wifi and 200GB of free SkyDrive storage for two years.

The Surface 2 is powered by an Nvidia Tegra 4 processor, making apps run faster and smoother and increasing battery life to up to ten hours for video playback with a 10.6-inch full HD display that renders 1080p video. Camera resolution has also increased, with a 3.5-megapixel front camera and 5-megapixel rear camera, both capable of capturing 1080p video and featuring improved low-light performance. Surface 2 will ship with Windows RT 8.1 and is pre-loaded with Office Home & Student 2013 RT and Outlook 2013 RT.

Surface 2 is available in 32GB and 64GB configurations starting at $449.

The Pro 2 is the higher end version, with Windows 8.1 capable of running virtually all Windows software including the full Microsoft Office suite as well as apps from the Windows Store. It is powered by a fourth-generation Intel Core i5 processor and will be offered in 64GB and 128GB configurations with 4GB of RAM and 256GB and 512GB configurations with 8GB of RAM, starting at $899.

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