Microsoft's first consumer Surface was released five years ago on Oct. 26, 2012

Microsoft first announced this exciting new device in June of 2012) but it wasn't until that fall, on October 26, 2012, that the device was publicly released.

It was not technically the first piece of Surface hardware Microsoft ever released — that honor goes to the so-called "Surface coffee table" or the "PixelSense" that debuted in 2007 — but it was the first consumer-facing Surface … even if it was basically a glorified tablet that ran a limited version of Windows, called Windows RT. This first Surface would come to be known as Surface RT, for that reason.

Surface RT definitely wasn't Microsoft's most impressive Surface ever — that honor probably goes to the recently unveiled Surface Book 2. But it represents the initial stepping stone on a path that led to Microsoft creating its own PC hardware, and with it, an example of exactly what the Windows experience can and should be.

Surface also firmly positioned Microsoft as genuine competitor with Apple from a hardware standpoint, but also from a consumer perspective. Microsoft created Surface to gain more control over the entire Windows experience, both hardware and software. Surface PCs today are cool, and that definitely wasn't always the case for Microsoft, Windows, and PCs in general.

The Surface RT, released just five short years ago, paved the way. So today we say happy birthday, Surface.

Al Sacco

Al Sacco is content director of Future PLC's Mobile Technology Vertical, which includes, and He is a veteran reporter, writer, reviewer and editor who has professionally covered and evaluated IT and mobile technology, and countless associated gadgets and accessories, for more than a decade. You can keep up with Al on Twitter and Instagram.