How Microsoft Surface Tablets Work

Specs on the Surface

While Microsoft shared many details about the Surface tablets at its June 2012 event, the company avoided answering several questions. For example, Microsoft executives didn't give specifics about the type of processors or memory the tablets will use. The company also remained mute about the type of graphics processor the Surface would have. As of this writing, those details will become clear a little later in 2012 when the products officially hit store shelves.

Here's what we do know:

There will be two main categories of Surface tablets -- one for casual consumers and another for professionals who want a tablet for productivity applications. Each category has two options for on-board hard-drive space. The consumer model will come in 32- and 64-gigabyte configurations while the professional model will be available in 64- and 128-gigabyte versions.

The consumer model Microsoft showed off was 0.37 inches (9.3 millimeters) thin and weighed 1.5 pounds (676 grams). The professional model was a little thicker and heavier at 0.53 inches (13.5 millimeters) and 2 pounds (903 grams).

The consumer model will run on Windows RT for its operating system (OS). This is an offshoot of the Windows 8 OS for computers. Microsoft designed Windows RT to run on mobile devices, which tend to have tight restrictions on processor speed and battery life compared to desktop and laptop computers. The Windows RT OS works on advanced RISC machine (ARM)-based central processor units (CPUs). An ARM CPU consumes less power than a comparable x86-based processor. The consumer model will also have a microSD slot, a USB 2.0 port and a micro HD video port.

The professional model will pack a bigger processor punch. It will have an Intel Core Ivy Bridge processor and will use Windows 8 Pro as its OS. This version of the Surface will also have a microSDXC card slot, a USB 3.0 port and a mini DisplayPort for video output.

Both models will have a display measuring 10.6 inches along the diagonal (about 27 centimeters). Both also have a kickstand that can snap into place on the back of the tablet or be pulled out to support it on a flat surface. Both categories have antennas to connect to WiFi networks. And both have dual array microphones and dual speakers.