Microsoft Intros Surface 2, Surface Music Kit – Are They Enough For You To Consider A Windows Tablet?


Microsoft today announced that the second generation of its Microsoft Surface family of tablets. It also announced new accessories for the Surface tablet computers, including a pressure-sensitive DJ controller.

Two new Surface models, Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, along with an expanded portfolio of new Surface accessories, will be available at Microsoft retail stores and retailers in 22 initial markets. Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 benefit from improvements to processing power and battery life, to display and camera resolution and to the Kickstand.

The first generation of Microsoft Surface devices failed to make a dent in the popularity of iPad and Android tablets. Will Microsoft have more success this time around? Check out the details and let us know what you think!

Surface 2

Surface 2 is powered by an NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor, making apps run faster and smoother and increasing battery life to up to 10 hours for video playback. The 10.6-inch ClearType Full HD display now renders 1080p video and its full-size USB port has been upgraded to USB 3.0 for up to four times faster file transfers.

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, bringing improvements in key areas such as personalization, search, multitasking, built-in apps, the Windows Store experience and cloud connectivity.

Surface 2 is available in 32GB and 64GB configurations; pricing will start at $449.

Surface Pro 2

Surface Pro 2 is the successor to Surface Pro and, like its predecessor, is intended as a laptop replacement, capable of running virtually all your Windows software.

Surface Pro 2 is powered by a fourth-generation Intel Core i5 processor which, combined with other improvements, delivers increased performance and up to 75 percent longer battery life than Surface Pro.

Starting at $899, Surface Pro 2 will be offered in 64GB and 128GB configurations with 4 GB of RAM and 256GB and 512GB configurations with 8 GB of RAM.

The Microsoft Surface Music Kit

The biggest surprise in Microsoft’s announcements today is the Surface Music Kit – a new keyboard + software combination designed for remixing.

Here’s what they have to say about it:

Experiment with content from familiar and emerging artists or import your own.

Create new music easily using the loop, mute, and solo functions.

Pressure-sensitive pads on the Music Cover control parts of songs, loops, instruments, vocals, hooks, and beats. Sliders adjust volume and FX.

Automatically syncs beats per minute (BPM) and key for seamless mixing. You don’t need to be a pro to sound like one.

The Kit helps you choose which sounds and samples work best with each other.

Specifications and pricing on the Surface Music Kit are to come – so it’s unclear whether this will be purely a consumer-oriented accessory, or if it the keyboard will work with other Windows music apps.

69 thoughts on “Microsoft Intros Surface 2, Surface Music Kit – Are They Enough For You To Consider A Windows Tablet?

  1. No, they aren’t. (And this is coming from a PC diehard with a relative who is an exec at Microsoft)

    Apple already filled the niche, MSFT needs to try something else. I’m sure this is a great product but at the price point they’re asking, I’m better off buying some software or a budget Synth.

    1. “with a relative who is an exec at Microsoft”
      I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what the fuck that fact has to do with anything.

      1. It’s got something to do with the fact that I’m more inclined to give MSFT the benefit of the doubt, or like their products since the sale of said products helps feed relatives of mine.

        For example, I loved Vista. I still have my Zune. I have a phone that runs Windows Mobile.

  2. That interface is surprising, good ewes, we are obviously a market worth paying attention to now.

    But the software and blurb are concerning, they seem to play down the endless file management involved with this kind of work and act like you can just use a library of stuff they will provide you with. I mean even if its a library as big as iTunes, it’s till not actual music creation, it’s remixing other people’s stuff.

    So I’d need to see a lot more.

    1. I don’t think their focus on DJing vs actual synthesis is important. DJing is the gateway to music production and it’s an attractive hobby to many people these days, it’s logical to appeal to a broad group rather than the much tinier number of people who love Reaktor or Max/MSP. The considerations about latency and compatibility are the same for both groups – maybe even more for DJs, who by definition want to get a bit hands-on with the music they’re playing.

  3. Obviously, the most important thing is how many software developers will jump onboard. They will make or break this product. If Ableton makes Live for the Surface, that would give it a big boost. Microsoft should throw a lot of money their way to get them onboard, since Ableton hasn’t made Live for iOS yet.

  4. Big surprise! Mircosoft uses dubstep in the video as bg music, but not willing to go all the way EDM, they ask a mainstream rock ‘dj’ to promo it.

  5. The idea of running a full blown DAW on a small tablet for portable/field excites me – it all depends on whether or not developers will actually take advantage of it. If, for example, steinberg can implement a ‘touch-screen mode’ option similar to the sublime Cubasis interface, to full blown Cubase, I’m sold.

    1. the nearest tablet to running full windows on the market is the lenovo helix, and the reason i say nearest is when you unplug it from its base the performance drops like a stone. tablet processors cycle at a greatly reduced speed compared to a laptop or especially a desktops. all the benefits of plug in compensation, high sample rates, and 24bit audio are not going to cut it on a tablet processor.
      it will be a great accessory and a move up from the ipad but its not going to replace the PC or Mac for a while yet.

      1. I don’t think we’re that far away. The specs on the Surface Pro 2 are quite impressive.

        A friend of mine uses one of those convertable HP Envy laptop-tablets and it’s more than capable of running a DAW and a few processor intensive plugins. Granted, the form-factor is a bit bigger than this, but it’s not a million miles away from ‘the dream’.

  6. Too little, too late I’m afraid.
    Never less, I’ll be watching this space with interest, always open to new music creation avenues.

  7. Since the iPad has been mediocre at best at music creation, I’ve tested it for a couple of years now, I’m excited to see a full blown Windows tablet with a U.I. that can assist in production. I have a good amount of quality editors, libraries, and additional tools that run fine in my Windows 8 DAW. I’m excited to see this!

    1. and that pretty much remains so? i use both frankly and like win in many aspects better.
      the thing is we live in entirely different age now and apple has a solid infrastructure very popular with app developers. i don´t see that changing that easy.
      ms is playing catch-up. i would give them a benefit of doubt and say they may have a long term vision but the surface 1 was such a joke from day one. can´t see it. yay to competition tho. good for us.

        1. It can run LEGACY Windows software, which doesn’t support multi-touch and isn’t even designed for touchscreens – which is why nobody is buying these things.

          This is why the Surface tablets have been failures.

          1. it was inevitable. people debated for years if VA are real synths, now we are switching to software.
            let the forum wars begin.

      1. MS does this because they suck at marketing and Apple is very good at marketing.

        For the record, I use both. I am agnostic. I use what works. I give zero fucks about brands. Only sheep do.

        1. The Surface ads have been great. The problem is that Microsoft can’t innovate itself out of a paper bag.

          Seriously – how much demand do you think there will be for a $1,000+ tablet computer that’s a terrible tablet and a terrible computer, when it’s way more expensive than decent Windows computers or an iPad?

  8. I already run Ableton on my surface pro, so this will have to be very good to pull me away from that. That said, I’d definitely shell out for the 512gb one if it wasn’t almost $2000…

    1. i heard you couldnt run Ableton an the surface pro? is this true that your rockin it. but yeah if ableton went all out with microsoft this would be a game changer. Lemur on ipad still works pretty good though as a contoller

      1. Marcon

        The Surface RT won’t run any of your traditional Windows software, only apps that are rewritten for it. There’s not a lot of software available for it yet, because nobody’s buying RT’s.

        The Surface Pro runs standard Windows apps. Live will technically run fine on it, but it’s not very usable, for two main reasons. The interface is designed specifically for use with a mouse, so the UI is clumsy to use with your finger. And Live isn’t designed for multi-touch, so the touchscreen doesn’t offer a lot of benefit.

      2. Yeah, it runs well with a few caveats. The normal touch controls are iffy, so I use the pen which is great for drawing notes, selecting devices etc. The only thing the pen is terrible at is changing knobs and faders. They tend to jump around a lot if you use it. So I hook up a launchpad with the launchpad95 script to control those parameters. Works great for while traveling and sketching ideas. It won’t ever replace my main DAW, but it is definitely useable.

        Some advice if anyone tries it. Set the zoom to 100%, then you can either change the resolution or use Ableton’s zoom to make things easier to see. Even thought the surface is tiny, the high resolution means I can see more on it than on my normal laptop.

        Now if Ableton would make a touch optimized version it would be even better.

  9. The Surface Pro is a f* beast! Little too late my ass. Some of you egg heads have no vision. You can hook a MPC Studio to that monter and bang out. 512GB SSD? 8GB Ram? Almost 4k res? This is not a toy my fellow synthtopians.

    1. the reality is that there is no end to where music technology can go and where it could turn up. iPad isn’t the end game. so if windows and other companies throw money in the right direction there eill indeed be a new revolution. I feel no loyalty to my iPad. if there’s something better in 5 years 10 years. I’ll get it.

      I have to say the idea of the surface having several different keyboard pads all with different function which you can mix and match does sound like the ultimate portable set up. the sleek weightless black lines are very attractive.

      I just need to see it do more than djing to believe its a future market. the screen software does show promise.

      1. Even better if some company starts making custom keyboard pads ….. to bad you couldn’t just draw your own and then use it.

  10. All this amazing technology, and everyone sounds the same, and mostly like crap. So who cares. It’s mostly going to sound like shit until people stop worrying about the next gadget and start learning how to make music again.

  11. First time im really excited about a tablet … 😮
    It would actually mean i could use my dust collector (aka Maschine) to be used as hardware. IF latency is good.

      1. yeah, this is the only scenario i´d use this tablet. honestly tho why not just get an mpc1k?
        this technology thing is a bit one step forward, two steps back in terms of music making imo.
        even the older workstations offer everything one needs…

        1. “this technology thing is a bit one step forward, two steps back” ….. More like one step forward then throw the baby out with the bath water.

  12. If I’m going to drop $2K on a Windows tablet, it will be the actual Wacom one. I’ve wanted a Cintiq forever.

    Maybe I’ll look for one of the new Pros when they do the inevitable fire sale on them, because I don’t think many people are going to shell out that kind of cash for a tablet.

  13. I am surprised that no one has spoken up about the obvious, inevitable, inexorable, headlong charge Apple are making towards convergence of iOS and Mac OS.

    It’s only a matter of time…

    By then the software developers will have had plenty of time to modify their code base to accommodate multi-touch, because let’s face it, the revolutionary part of all this IS the multi-touch aspect; being able to control more than two things at once is fundamentally different to Software and Hardware synth where the maximum, without doing clever things with midi mappings or something, is two controls at once!

    Until this convergence event, the idea of mouse oriented desktop software on a touch screen makes little sense.

    More generally, good to see some ‘competition’.

    1. Top story at Synthtopia right now is “Apple Updates iMac Line”- bunch of new computers, no touch screens. Doesn’t seem like an inexorable headlong rush to iOS….

      1. Wow, I’ve heard of myopic delusions, but that is absurdly contracted, are you really telling me you can’t see past the top post on Synthtopia?

        Open your eyes, evaluate the last few years of the operating systems development, extrapolate that process out and you will see that what I say is obvious!

        I understand if you’re not capable of thought, but better to keep quiet if that’s the case, you’re only making yourself look stupid.

            1. Heh… both wrong!

              Quite funny though, I can imagine the people you must have met along your way!

              If you really want to know, I’m a high class hooker with a penchant for books, synths and fast bikes, oh and hot rich guys to buy them for me of course!

              …and no, you can’t afford me and I definitely won’t marry you!

  14. The sad truth is that this tablet may be a the second coming, but I have too much invested in Apple tech to even consider switching to an MS solution. I’m not unhappy with this situation, I love my idevices and my workflow, but these are the realities. If I total up all the apps (iOS and OS X) and the integration between all my devices, it’s pretty much intractable. It’s like when I got my iPhone: having an iPad and a Macbook, I would be a fucking fool to use an Android device. Not because they are bad, but because I’d have to either re-buy or replace 100s of tools. I can’t imagine switching to iOS or OS X would be any easier for a person heavily invested in MS and Android. I guess if you steal everything and only d/l free apps, then you have a lot more freedom of choice. Strange how that works out.

  15. this is actually interesting, but way too late to the game in my view.
    as limiting as ios may still be in certain aspects it already carved its niche in stone.

    1. Remember 15 years ago when the consensus was that Apple had a lock on the multimedia niche , and Windows PCs were just for speadsheets and businesses?

      1. and that pretty much remains so? i use both frankly and like win in many aspects better.
        the thing is we live in entirely different age now and apple has a solid infrastructure very popular with app developers. i don´t see that changing that easy.
        ms is playing catch-up. i would give them a benefit of doubt and say they may have a long term vision but the surface 1 was such a joke from day one. can´t see it. yay to competition tho. good for us.

        1. No, it has totally changed, which is why I don’t think it is very important if today it is looking like Apple has “carved its niche in stone”

  16. The velocity pads are in the wrong place they should be on the screen! Now before you say you can’t make glass velocity sensitive, this is something the tech-heads at Microsoft could master and differentiate itself from other tablets.

  17. This is excellent.
    An adequately powered super portable touch screen windows machine. The USB3 port will handle an interface and a hub. The WMK will be easy to implement if desired and of course daw touch support is on the horizon…

  18. Wonder how this is with audiomulch. Maybe I’ll have to pick up an older model.

    the problem with tablets and touch is getting audio in and out. You don’t really get any expressive benefit if you’re worried about ripping cables out. I guess with wireless headphones / mic and recording internally you’re good, but I’m more into using the computer to get sound out, because I hate arranging on screen.

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