FAQ: What we don't know about Microsoft's Surface tablet

If the saying 'What you don't know can kill you' is true, how much danger are Microsoft and its customers in?

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On the Windows RT tablet, we don't know whether the USB 2.0 port can be used for an external drive, but do know that you'll be able to plug in some peripherals. In the footnotes, in small print, on the Microsoft Surface website, is this: "Works exclusively with printers, mice, and keyboards certified for Windows RT."

Is the Surface a tablet or a PC? We know what it is, but Microsoft seems to think different, so we're counting this as an "unknown" for now.

During the Monday introduction, Microsoft executives used the word "tablet" 14 times, but the word "PC" 37 times (we counted them in the transcript on seekingalpha.com).

The disparity was even greater in the press release Microsoft issued Monday. There, "tablet" was used only once outside of the footnotes, but "PC" was referenced four times.

So, is the Surface a tablet with a (possibly optional) keyboard, or an ultrabook with a detachable, touch-sensitive screen? Microsoft seems to think the latter -- hence all the time spent Monday talking up the keyboard covers -- but others, including those here at Computerworld, will keep calling it a tablet.

Will I be able to sync a Surface to my Mac? Not certain. But we expect so.

Microsoft has had Windows Phone 7-to-Mac synchronization tools in circulation for some time, and maybe it will port that to Windows RT before the Surface launch.

On Windows 8 (for the Surface Pro), users can sync files using SkyDrive, which is available as a client for OS X. And Microsoft may build a more complete sync tool for the Surface that would let you keep more than just a few files up-to-date. But the company has been mum on that subject, too.


See more news, analysis and blogs about Microsoft Surface.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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