Some 10 months after its introduction, Microsoft has opened up presales of its second-generation table computer.
Microsoft and Samsung today said the new unit, which starts at $8,400, is now available for preordering in 23 countries, with a release to follow in early 2012.
The computer, called SUR40, made its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, and is Microsoft's second attempt at large-scale multitouch computing. It sports a more powerful processor, new system software, and new sensor hardware that promises to make touch recognition more accurate.
Unlike the first-generation model, which worked with a combination of projectors, the newer model uses a flat-screen panel from Samsung that can be used horizontally, or mounted vertically on walls. As a result of the new design, the unit is cheaper than the first generation's $12,500 price tag.
The technology that powers the touch recognition is called PixelSense. It uses 2 million sensors that have been built into the panel to pick up visible or infrared light. It's not powerful enough to recognize something like a person's fingerprint, but it gives the unit more accuracy when it comes to being able to differentiate users by the size of their fingers as well as where they're sitting on the board.
SUR40 remains a specialty device aimed at businesses, as opposed to consumers, with a price tag that's about twice the price of a top-end TV and computer. Earlier this year, initial customers were listed as Dassault Aviation, Fujifilm, Red Bull, Royal Bank of Canada, and Sheraton Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.
Here I am getting a quick look at the SUR40 at CES, shortly after its introduction: