Microsoft dropped RT brand to minimise Surface "confusion"

Surface 2 ditched RT branding to minimise confusion

Microsoft says the decision to drop the 'RT' branding from its second generation Surface tablet was a move made to address consumer confusion between the scaled down, tablet-optimised operating system and its regular Windows 8.1 OS.

The Microsoft Surface 2 tablet goes on sale in Australia later this month.
The Microsoft Surface 2 tablet goes on sale in Australia later this month.

Speaking to Good Gear Guide at a hands-on briefing with the company's new Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 devices, Microsoft's product marketing manager for Surface, Jack Cowett, said one of the reasons for removing the RT branding was to address consumer confusion.

"We think that there was some confusion in the market last year on the difference between Surface RT and Surface Pro. We want to help make it easier for people, and these are two different products designed for two different people."

The second generation Surface RT tablet, simply called the Surface 2, now boasts a full HD screen, has updated internals, and includes a new two-stage kickstand aimed to make it easier to use on your lap.

Cowett said the changes to the kickstand were a result of consumer feedback, which suggested the original Surface models were difficult to use as a laptop.

"We got quite a lot of really good feedback from the original Surface Pro, but one thing people said to us was, 'hey if you really want us to use this thing on your lap, you need to make it easier to use as a laptop.'"

"We've added a second angle for the kickstand, so it's much more comfortable to use on your lap. It's a tiny change but it makes a huge difference."

Other new features of the Surface 2 tablet include a thinner and lighter design, improved battery life of up to 10 hours, and a new silver colour variant.

The front of the device retains its traditional black bezel, but silver trim is used around the rest of the device, including the back.

Cowett said Microsoft's ultimate goal with the Surface 2 is to make it possible for consumers to simply "carry less stuff".

"We didn't really talk about what we wanted to do with these products last year, but the goal is to carry less stuff. You shouldn't have to walk around with a laptop and a tablet, nobody should have to do that."

The Surface 2 two retains a full-size USB port, but it has been upgraded to USB 3.0 for faster file transfers with a compatible device.

Microsoft has also improved the front facing camera (3.5-megapixels) and the rear facing camera (5-megapixels), and both are able to capture full HD 1080p video.

The Surface 2 will come pre-loaded with the Windows RT 8.1 operating system and includes a full version of Microsoft Office 2013 RT.

Microsoft will also offer free Skype calling to landlines in more than 60 countries for one year, unlimited Skype Wi-Fi for one year, and 200GB of free SkyDrive storage for two years with any new Surface 2 purchase.

The Surface 2 tablet will be available in 32GB and 64GB models and will sell for $529 and $639 in Australia, respectively, from Tuesday, 22 October.

What do you think about the Microsoft Surface 2? Are you interested in the RT based device? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

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