How does Microsoft Surface tablet compare against Apple iPad

The tablet marketplace is getting hotter day by day, with the launch of new more advanced tablets, by the giants of the tech market. This never-ending race of domination in the burgeoning gadget market is making companies push the limits of innovation and launch newer and better tablets to attract consumers.

Current Tablet Market

To-date, Apple iPad holds about 60% of the market stake, with the rest 40% being taken up by Android tablets. But the market may soon see a sea-change with the launch of Windows 8 powered tablets by the end of this year.  The tablet, named as Microsoft Surface, will come in two different models: Surface RT and Surface Pro.

Microsoft Surface tablet

The Surface RT is powered by low-cost ARM chips to compete with the iPad and a few high-end Android tablets, and runs on Windows 8 RT.

The Surface Pro is equipped with the third generation Intel Core i5 processors (x86 chips) and will cater to the power-users, the elite and thee enterprise users. The tablet will run Windows 8 Pro and will, apart from apps, support legacy software and programs that are available for earlier version of Windows. All Windows-based enterprise applications will run smoothly on Surface PRO.

You can see read this post on Surface tablet features for full details.

Market Speculation

The market is speculating that the Surface tablet will not be able to compete head-to-head with iPad and Android Tabs, as it is no different from any of the existing tablets. Moreover the iPad brand is well-entrenched in the consumers mindset and will continue to remain as the first choice of a tablet buyer. So, it is going to be an up-hill task for Microsoft to be able to get a good stake in this market.

According to a few analysts, the tablet is an entertainment gadget and not specifically made for enterprise environment or development purposes. But they are forgetting one thing – Microsoft is taking a whole new approach and trying to export this form factor to the business environment as well.

The New iPad from Apple or any other Android tablet such as Samsung Galaxy Tabs or Toshiba Thrive have not been able to attract enterprise sector till now, due to lack of usability in that environment. So, a tablet with a full fledged PC operating system, with all enterprise applications running perfectly on it, could open a new base of consumers which is still untouched and could well end up being dominated by Microsoft.

Tablet for the Enterprise

This separate model of Surface for enterprise users, Surface Pro, is fitted with the third generation Intel Core i5 Ivy Bridge processors and will run the Professional version of Windows 8. There is no such tablet available right now which can do what it can do. Apple iPad is nowhere near it. It cannot provide such usability and features  to its users.

Yes, if iPad does introduce a tablet that is capable of running OS X, then it could compete directly with Surface Pro. But lets keep the ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ aside and talk about what ‘is’ today!

iPad is the king … today!

There is no doubt that Apple iPad is the one and only King of this market, beating every other single tablet available in the market. No one else comes anywhere close to it in terms of brand value and usability. With hundred of thousands of apps available, it has proved itself as an amazing entertainment device.  Every adult wants one … every kid wants one! It has the cool factor and everyone wants to be seen with one!

To compete with the New iPad and other ARM based light Android tablets, Microsoft will launch a lite model of the Surface tablet powered by nVidia Tegra 3+ ARM chip, named as Surface RT. The Microsoft Surface RT will run Windows 8 RT and is specifically designed for end-users to serve the purpose of a perfect entertainment device.

The success the Surface tablets will also depend, to a large extent on the availability of apps and how quickly they will be made available. It all depends on how quickly Surface RT is totally depending on the apps, which will be available for it later on. If Microsoft is successful in roping in developers real fast to churn out good apps and large companies like Facebook, Twitter, Rovio, Google, etc release Windows 8 version of their apps, then it will be a great draw to the end-user.

Let’s compare few popular tablets available in the market today or expected to be available in the near future. We will compare the hardware specs and design capabilities. Do note higher figures are not always better – it always depends on the actual usability of those figures.

Microsoft Surface RT vs Apple New iPad

If we talk about Microsoft Surface RT and Apple New iPad specs comparison, both tablets compete head-to-head with each other. The new iPad sports a A5X Dual Core 1 GHz chip, whereas Surface RT will feature a nVidia Tegra 3+ Quad Core 1.3GHz chip, for lag-free operations.

The New iPad features a 9.7” Retina display screen with stock resolution of 2048×1536 pixels and Surface RT will feature a 10.6” ClearType HD display, with industry standard HD resolution of 1280×720 pixels. No doubt that iPad is the winner here, but this screen resolution may actually hurt the eyes and may only be good for watching high-density pictures, whereas you can enjoy all your HD movies easily on Surface RT as well, because of its industry standard screen resolution.

Surface RT is 9.3mm thick and Apple iPad is 9.4 mm thick. Microsoft Surface RT comes with an integrated kickstand to increase the comfort level while working or watching movie and serves more usability then the iPad. You can get a kickstand for your iPad as well but as an extra accessory only, which in return increase the size, make it bulkier and hard to carry every time. Moreover, the Touch / Type cover of the Surface tablet doubles up as a full multi-touch keyboard and trackpad, which is a hard-to-beat feature.

Apple iPad comes in three different memory sizes i.e. 16GB, 32GB and 64GB, with no option of expanding it whereas Surface RT will be available with two options of 32GB and 64GB, with an option of expanding it by using an external microSD card. More space is always better and always welcome!

Surface RT sports an innovative design which is no way ‘less’ than Apple iPad – it is in fact, even being considered as the more visually appealing of the two!

The exact price and full details of the specs of Surface RT, have not been revealed by Microsoft till now – only a few details have been revealed – so we can’t do a comparison right now. But looking at the above comparison, one can expect that everything else would be of industry standard and will compete with iPad perfectly.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is currently the most efficient Android tablet in the market but has failed to attract the users and garner substantial market-share. The tablet has a sleek design, but has limited usability because of Android 4.0 mobile OS.

Google recently announced the Nexus 7 Android 4.1 Jellybean tablet. It is a low-cost tablet designed by Google and manufactured by Asus, mainly targeted to compete with Amazon Kindle Fire and other low-cost Android tablets of the market. Though the tablet is packed with powerful specs, it comes with an amazingly low price, tag which makes it even more attractive to the consumers. Google Nexus 7 will be soon available in the market. It also sports the same processor as Surface RT does – the nVidia Tegra 3 Quad Core processor cloaked at 1.3GHz. The Google Nexus 7 tablet sports a smaller screen of 7 inches and basically is a competitor of Amazon Kindle Fire instead of Microsoft Surface or iPad. It is however capable of affecting the sales of these two tablets as Google is offering the 8GB model for $199 and 16GB for $249 only.

It is not only the Microsoft Surface which will be launched a Windows 8 Tablet. All other major OEMs, PC and Mobile manufacturer of world will launch their Windows 8 powered tablets as well. So, it’s going to be a win-win situation for the end-users as Microsoft Surface will compete with the iPad, Nexus, Galaxy and other OEM Windows 8 tablets.

Looking at the specs, the usability and its classy appealing looks, I feel that the Microsoft Surface tablet with Windows 8 has the power to impact the tablet market-share to a large extent.

Microsoft does appears to have got all the ingredients for the perfect tablet just right, it all depends now how well the dish is laid out and served … and that is where good marketing will come into play!

Windows Surface vs New iPad vs Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 vs Nexus 7

Our TGC author Varad Choudhari has prepared a detailed comparison chart to compare all the specs and features of Microsoft Surface, The New iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 and Google Nexus 7 tablets. It will come handy while planning a purchase of new tablet. Click on the image to see its larger version.

Windows Surface vs New iPad vs Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 vs Nexus 7

Let us know what you think. Will Surface tablet shake up today’s near-monopolistic tablet market … or not!

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.


  1. Nice post with lots of details about tablets. My take is that Surface RT will be a decent competitor if Microsoft does not screw up on the apps and marketing front. Surface Pro is competing with the ultrabooks and hence unless it is priced quite low it may not work well. Detailed thoughts on my blog at:

  2. Nohaller

    John T. Haller is a crook and a thief.

  3. infinidim

    Great post. I think the most important thing for Microsoft is to price the Surface RT at a price that is slightly lower than the Apple iPAD. With the included Office product as well as the quality of the product it should be a winner.

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