As anybody in ownership of an Xbox 360 (or indeed, a PlayStation 3) will know, the wireless controllers are pretty versatile, and with minimal fuss, can be hooked up to many electronic products besides their respective console boxes. With the Microsoft Surface dropping next week, many were wondering whether the Redmond company’s tablet would also support the Xbox’s wireless controllers. In a day that has seen snaps of Steve Sinofsky skateboarding on a Surface around the Redmond complex, the software maker has taken another out-of-the-ordinary step in confirming via Reddit that the imminent slab will indeed be compatible with the Xbox game pads.
A member of the Surface team noted: "We used the 360 USB controllers to play with Surface all the time and they work great. We have not tried Kinect yet."
Meanwhile, there have also been question marks raised over the lack of a cellular data connection, although it appears Microsoft believes most consumers will use the Surface at home as opposed to on-the-fly. While I would somewhat agree with that sentiment – I tend to use my tablets around the house rather than, say, on the train – I think omitting the data connection completely does somewhat offer users less freedom. Still, with many smartphone carriers offering agreeable tethering packages, it’s not as though the issue cannot be worked around, and with the business-focused nature of the Windows maker’s tablet, I think we’ll be seeing plenty of Surface tablets wielded in public.
Microsoft took its time on Reddit to also clarify a few other things up about the Surface. Having announced it some time ago, many key details were left out, and although the past couple of weeks have seen many queries answered, prospective buyers still have one or two questions to ask.
First and foremost, it uses the USB 2.0 standard as opposed to USB 3.0 since very few devices actually support it. We are seeing quite a few vendors adopt USB 3.0, but as is often the case with newer technologies, the transition will be a gradual process – one which Microsoft isn’t insistent on leaping into at this point.
The design of the tablet has been molded around the Windows RT software, according to the Surface team, with the form factor described as "a physical extension of [the] software." The aim of the game has been to "to build a bridge between you and your digital things," and the use of magnesium allowed the slate to arrive in the "thin, light and strong," composition robust enough for Sinofsky to skateboard on.
With the iPad Mini looking as though it’ll be announced prior to the Surface launch, consumers are going to have quite a few decisions to make, and for the first time, it’s not just a choice between iOS and Android.