updated 05:00 pm EDT, Sun August 12, 2012
Job postings signal long-term hardware commitment
Microsoft's Surface tablets aren't set to launch for another two months, but the software giant turned hardware maker is reportedly already at work on the successor to its forthcoming foray into computing hardware. TechRadar recently uncovered a number of job postings from the Redmond-based company that call for hardware and software engineers who will be tasked with building the next generation of Surface devices. The listings, should they indeed prove to be for a Surface successor, would signal that Microsoft is committed to its new tablets for the long term. That fact would likely be much to the chagrin of Microsoft's hardware partners, who have expressed concern that the company may be undercutting Windows OEMs by entering the hardware sector itself.
The listings reiterate Microsoft's vision for Surface, which is to have "desirable and powerful devices that enable the experiences people want, and elicit their excitement," and say that Microsoft is "currently building the next generation" of Surface. The listings also call for a senior electrical engineer who will work on "the electrical design and qualification of AC-DC power supplies and adapters," which likely indicates that the company intends to roll out battery-powered devices.
A number of other aspects of the postings hint at the characteristics Microsoft may be aiming for with future devices. One listing calls for engineers to look at "alternative power sources," which may signal new battery technologies or fuel cells for future Surface devices. Other mentions of "fast-paced product development cycles" seem to indicate that Microsoft will be releasing Surface devices on a time frame similar to that seen with Apple's iPad and other mobile consumer devices.
Since the company unveiled its Surface tablets in June, its impact has been reverberating through the PC manufacturing industry. Manufacturers are worried that Microsoft's new device will mean new competition from the very company that supplies them with the operating system their devices run on, much in the same way that handset and tablet manufacturers are anxious at Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility. Some PC manufacturers have even asked Microsoft to reconsider its Surface devices, saying that it could have a negative impact on the worldwide PC ecosystem.