(Las Vegas CBS KXNT) Las Vegas is one of 34 cities where Microsoft has set up shop for the holidays. The “pop-up” shop concept is the company’s way to offer customers a hands-on experience with its new Surface tablet, and three new operating systems launching today.
“You can order online,” store manager Scott Gregory told KXNT. “But we’re going to give everyone a great opportunity to come in, check it out themselves, see what it is.”
The stores will be dismantled after the holidays. Gregory did not share volume goals, but said he expects to “sell out” of featured products.
Microsoft is touting the Surface as a tablet for the business user, because it comes with a version of Microsoft Offfice.
“Both work and play,” Gregory says, indicating Microsoft does not want to disappoint the entertainment-oriented user. The tablet has a “touch friendly” user interface, and an optional $120 snap-on keyboard that doubles as a cover for the screen.
Indeed, customers in line waiting to get the device believed it would be useful for business in a way the iPad is not, and they unfailingly mentioned the keyboard, or “touch cover,” as Microsoft calls it.
Microsoft personnel are also giving advice on how to customize the Surface, a feature the company says is unique and time-saving. When the tablet boots up, via pair programming, the most-used applications are already running and arranged visually on the desktop to suit the user’s priorities.
For personal security, the Surface features interactive touch-screen user authentication using a photo and customized hand gestures. A photo of your pet, for instance, might log you in when you touch the cat’s ear with your finger, followed by a circle around her nose, and a brush across her whiskers.
The Surface runs on RT , which is a version of the new Windows 8 operating system that’s specifically designed for tablets and notebooks. Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro also launched today.
The tablet has three price points — the entry-level 32 GB device is $499 with no touch cover (keyboard); 32 GB with touch cover is $599; the top model is a 64 GB with touch cover $699. The battery lasts “all day,” Gregory told KXNT, meaning 5 hours of video viewing or 13 hours of intensive work on Word or other work programs.