First among Bathiche’s fixes is the new Touch Cover, barely
distinguishable from the previous version externally, yet vastly
different on the inside. What was basically one sensor per key,
about 80 total, is now an array of 1,100 discrete sensors that can
detect exactly how hard your finger is pressing and where it
landed — even if it landed between keys. This enables gestures
and a new level of accuracy that the original Surface lacked.
Along the way, his team added backlit keys and increased the
rigidity of the typing surface. “We went from 80 sensors to 1,100,
we added a light guide, and it’s thinner. And it’s stiffer. That’s
cool,” Bathiche says.
That is cool, and indeed many of the most interesting
innovations in this new line of Surface tablets lie not in the
devices themselves but in their accessories. But just as with the
first Surface, these innovations run the risk of receiving a giant
collective shrug from the public. People just don’t get excited
about accessories, regardless of how innovative. Microsoft doesn’t
include any of the keyboards in the price of either tablet. This
lets users choose whether and which keyboard cover to purchase,
but it also has the side-effect of relegating these devices to
I think that’s Microsoft’s problem exactly. First impression seems to be that these second-generation Surfaces are very nice upgrades over last year’s — but I’m not sure they have anything that is going to give them traction in the market.