We were expecting new tablets at today's Microsoft Surface press event, but this? This was a surprise. In addition to unveiling the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, the company showed off the Surface Music Kit, a special version of the company's Touch Cover keyboard that's specifically meant for music production. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that it includes both a Touch Cover and an app (called the Remix Project) that lets beginners experiment with remixing.
Inside the application, you'll find "stems" (things like the bass track of a song), "clips" (the intro to a pop song, say) and "oneshots," which include sound effects like claps. From there, you can drag and drop the tracks into a workshop area, not unlike the way you'd handle media in a video-cutting program (or any other digital audio workshop, really). What's especially cool is that the Touch Cover here is pressure-sensitive, just like the new Touch Cover 2, so if you want a light drum sound, you can tap it lightly; if you want something more intense, just start mashing it with your fingers.
Unlike the Touch Cover 2 (or any of the other products announced today), this won't immediately be commercially available. Starting on October 22nd, the company will launch the so-called Remix Project, and seed the kit to musicians. Fans will also be able to upload videos to a community website, explaining how they might use the device, and perhaps, if they're really, really charming, Microsoft will send them a free kit early. At some point, of course, anyone will be able to go out and buy this, but for now, it's unclear when this will go on sale or how much it will cost. For now, though, we've got a hands-on video below that should give you a good idea of how the whole setup works.
Zach Honig contributed to this report.
Microsoft Surface Pro 2