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Microsoft's Surface Will Be WiFi Only; No Big Deal There

by on22 June 2012 3589 times

MS_SurfaceWell the world is abuzz with the news that *gasp* the Microsoft Surface tablet only comes with WiFi. For some reason this appears to be a big deal to many news sites that also have articles that list reasons why you should wait for the iPhone 5 and a few others. What I find interesting is that very few appear to remember that both Windows 8 and Windows RT will have the ability to utilize peripherals attached Via the included USB port.

Maybe it is the fact that the iPad has never included this (the iPad is what you get and nothing more) so when you buy a WiFi version you have to pick up a mobile hot spot or wirelessly tether to your phone. This is the same story for almost all WiFi Android Tablets. We imagine that many people feel that you will have to do the same thing with Microsoft’s Surface.

That assumption would be wrong. With Windows RT (from what we are hearing at this point) there will be a limited driver model that should allow for Cellular USB dongles to work on the new OS. We know that one of the reasons for the inclusion of the USB port on the device was for these types of peripherals to work as seamlessly as possible with the new device. Of course the makers of the new dongles will need to re-write their applications and drivers to work with Windows RT (and some are already), but we imagine that it will not be long after the launch that we will see Cellular USB Modems that will work with Windows RT.

With the Surface Pro, which has a full version of Windows 8 things are even simpler. Just plug in four favorite USB Cellular modem, install the drivers and go. Really it is very simple.

If a dongle is not to your liking you can still use a hotspot or tether to your phone if you have that service. The fact that Surface is coming without 3G or 4G is not a big deal and the going rumor that you cannot get a quad-core ARM SoC to work with LTE is not exactly the truth either. It is entirely possible through the use of a non-integrated radio. More than likely there were sales considerations that Microsoft was thinking about. If you want to launch a product globally you do not develop two (well really four) sets of hardware. You make one and allow for peripheral attachments to fill in the rest. Removing the Cellular Radio is one of the steps to make things more widely accepted. No need to setup deals with cellular carriers. Consumers get the most out of the device as they can use their carrier of choice.

Although we still area not a fan of the MetroUI that Microsoft is forcing on the market we are very interested to see how Surface performs; both the Tegra and x86 flavors. We will continue to bug Microsoft and see if we can get our hands on one any time soon to see how it ticks.

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Last modified on 22 June 2012
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