Microsoft Tries Again with the Surface 2

The company on Monday unveiled its newest tablets that feature jacked-up components and nifty new dual-position kickstands. The Surface 2, which runs Windows RT, now will come with Outlook, while the Surface Pro 2, which runs Windows 8.1, will continue to operate like a full PC. Microsoft fixed nearly every hardware issue that buyers criticized in the first versions of the devices while sticking with the same essential design.

With the second generation, Microsoft comes a little closer to its goal of satisfying all needs. The Surface Pro 2 is still pretty pricey, but its battery life is much better. And Surface 2 now has a snappier processor and can run Outlook, one of the key programs missing in the first generation. While the Windows app store is missing vital apps, the number of programs available has soared to 100,000 from 10,000 a year ago.

Along with product features, Microsoft is trying to avoid some of the first gen’s other missteps. Rather than releasing Surface only in Microsoft stores and online, the company will sell the device through numerous retailers, including mini Windows shops inside places such as Best Buy. It will release the Pro and RT versions at the same time and will provide free services such as Skype and SkyDrive to lure users. Microsoft also will rejigger its advertising campaign, giving potential customers more details about what the products can do rather than featuring dancers swinging around their tablets.

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