What’s Beneath The Surface

The overwhelming topic of the week for the high tech blogosphere was the unveiling of Microsoft’s forthcoming Surface tablet PCs. Since swimming upstream is tough, I too will go with the flow, and to keep the metaphor going I’m going to probe what’s beneath the Surface.

For the VoIP community, Microsoft left unanswered many questions about Surface, although it did answer others. For instance, there will be two cameras, both front and rear facing. The rear facing one, we are told by Microsoft, will be angled so that it can be used for conferencing during a business meeting. That makes it quite clear that business VoIP, with video, is on Microsoft’s agenda – it’s on Phone.com’s agenda too, I might add.

But what Microsoft didn’t reveal is just how extensive the connectivity needed for that video VoIP will be. I’ve got to assume that Surface has, at a minimum, built in Wi-Fi and perhaps a wired Ethernet connection. But unknown is if there will be versions with Long Term Evolution (LTE), the 4G wireless technology that’s really needed when away from Wi-Fi or wired connections for the video-centric business VoIP phone service that’s being hinted at.

Also not disclosed is whether there will be Bluetooth built in to Surface. That’s important to anyone who doesn’t want to talk on a speakerphone (indeed there will be stereo speakers in the device, in addition to a microphone or two) when using Surface as their VoIP phone.

At least we know that there will be a version of Surface powered by an i5 CPU, which immediately implies that the same VoIP clients that run on any laptop, or desktop for that matter, will run on the i5 version of Surface. If it all works I can just picture it, sitting in a hotel in front of a pretty big, bright screen, typing on the “real” keyboard Microsoft is promising in addition to a touch keyboard, with my VoIP business phone right there with me, a virtual extension that will work almost anywhere in the world.

Stuart Zipper is currently a contributing editor to Communications Technology, a high tech business journalism consultant and freelancer, and the past Senior Editor of TelecomWeb news break.