Surface is a tablet PC developed by Microsoft. The first Surface model was released on October 26, 2012, the same day as Windows 8 and Windows RT.

The Surface is a hybrid device that combines the features of a tablet and a laptop. It does not require any external input devices and can be used as a standalone touchscreen tablet. However, the Surface easily connects to Microsoft's custom keyboard, which includes a trackpad that can be used to control a cursor on the screen. The built-in "kickstand" allows the tablet to stand upright, and when combined with the keyboard, makes the Surface look and feel like a laptop.

The Surface runs both Windows RT and Windows 8 Pro, though the device initially shipped exclusively with Windows RT. Both operating systems support touchscreen and keyboard/mouse input, which means you can use the Surface however you prefer. For example, if you are on-the-go, you can use the on-screen keyboard to enter text input. If you are at a desk, you can flip out the kickstand and use the physical keyboard. You can also use the keyboard's built-in trackpad or a connected mouse to click on items rather than tapping the screen.

The Surface is designed to be a highly portable device and therefore includes built-in wireless communication, such as Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n) and Bluetooth 4.0. It also has a USB port for wired peripherals, a micro SDXC card slot for extra storage, an audio input/output jack, and a micro HDMI video out port. The Surface's magnesium case includes built-in front and rear-facing 720p HD cameras and a 16x9 screen with a resolution of 1366x768 pixels.

NOTE: The Surface can be purchased with or without a keyboard. You can choose between either the "touch keyboard," which has a flat, spill-proof surface, or the "type keyboard," which has raised keys and feels more like a traditional keyboard. Both keyboards double as protective covers for the Surface and can be folded to the back of the tablet when not in use.

Updated November 1, 2012 by Per C.

quizTest Your Knowledge

Memory modules and processors are both types of what?

Storage devices
Correct! Incorrect!     View the Chip definition.
More Quizzes →

The Tech Terms Computer Dictionary

The definition of Surface on this page is an original definition written by the team. If you would like to reference this page or cite this definition, please use the green citation links above.

The goal of is to explain computer terminology in a way that is easy to understand. We strive for simplicity and accuracy with every definition we publish. If you have feedback about this definition or would like to suggest a new technical term, please contact us.

Sign up for the free TechTerms Newsletter

How often would you like to receive an email?

You can unsubscribe or change your frequency setting at any time using the links available in each email.

Questions? Please contact us.