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What will the new Microsoft Surface do for comic creators?

Microsoft Surface

One of the criticism of the iPad when launched was that it was a device only for consuming content and not creating it. Yesterday Microsoft stepped into the tablet market announcing Microsoft Surface. The new tablet will be running the yet-to-launch Windows 8 OS and will be a full PC experience for its users. Where Apple has positioned the iPad for the consumer, Microsoft appears to be positioning this device as the business/productivity tablet. But since most Daily Cartoonist readers are more into sequential art than spreadsheets, here are a few things that will be of interest to comic creators based on what was announced yesterday:

  1. There will be two models – Surface for Windows RT and Surface for Windows 8 Pro. I would liken it to be the RT version as a competitor for the iPad and the Pro version a competitor to ultrabooks like Apple’s MacBook Air line except in the form factor of a tablet
  2. The Pro model has a stylus for writing on the screen (and presumably drawing if apps were available?). What’s cool about the stylus, especially for anyone who has drawn on an iPad, it detects when a stylus is being used and then turns off the multi-touch sensors so you can actually rest your hand on the screen.
  3. No news on the ebook reader for those moving your comics into eBook stores. Because reading is so fundamental to the iPad, Amazon Kindle Fire, Barnes and Noble Nook, you know it’s going to have one.
  4. Screen size is 10.6-inch (HD on the RT model, Full HD 1080p on the Pro)
  5. It has USB 2 and HDMI port. Having a USB port opens up a few possibilities over the iPad in the areas of attaching a Wacom tablet. So in theory, if there is a drawing app available for Windows 8 (and I’ve gotta think only the Pro device with its faster processor would be sufficient) then possibly you could use the Surface with your Wacom to draw. Granted, why would you add a drawing tablet when you can draw on the screen, but I’m talking theoretically here.
  6. If you’ve got an app in Apple’s App Store for your comics, it’s not going to run on Windows. You’ll have to build a new app (sorry).
  7. Pricing was not revealed but we’re told it will be comparable to other tablets (the Windows RT version) and ultrabooks (the Pro version)
  8. The tablet won’t be available until next fall at the earliest.

Additional reading:
Five key takeaways from Microsoft’s Surface event (CNET)
Microsoft reveals its own Windows 8 tablet: meet the new Surface for Windows RT (Engadget)
What You Need to Know About the New Microsoft Surface Tablet Computer (Investing Daily)

UPDATE: Regarding the possible eBook reader, Investing Daily notes that Microsoft recently invested in Barnes and Noble’s Nook e-reader and college textbook operations.

Community Comments

#1 Nathan Rackley
June/19/2012
@ 9:18 am

The Pro model of the tablet is supposedly carrying an Intel i5 Ivy Bridge processor. This means that it will have a normal version of Windows 8.

Because of this, presumably you should be able to get your full suite of normal Windows illustration applications running on the device, be it Photoshop, Illustrator, Manga Studio, etc. The only question is whether the built-in stylus will support pressure sensitivity or not. But if it does, artists will be in for a real treat. Regardless, the Pro version should support a Wacom or similar input device without a problem. In addition, with regards to reading apps, on the Pro version you should be able to run the Kindle app just fine.

The device I would advise people to be wary of is the RT model. Yes, it will be running Windows 8, but this is on an ARM processor. That means that the RT version of Windows will not support current Windows applications.

Regardless, I’m looking forward to this device. And if the price is right, I can definitely see myself getting one.

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