Microsoft unveils Surface, its own tablet computers

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Microsoft this week unveiled two 10.6-inch Microsoft Surface tablets that run on Windows RT and Windows 8 Pro.

The Windows RT version is 9.3mm thick, comes with 32GB and 64GB storage capacity and is expected to be priced at between $400 and $600. The Windows 8 Pro version will be thicker at 13.5mm, available in 64GB and 128GB and expected to be priced at between $800 and $1,000.

Both models will include full USB ports and memory card slots, and will come loaded with Office 15 apps. Specific details were deliberately left unanswered, including questions pertaining to battery life expectancy and the quality of its built-in camera and video. The official Microsoft specification sheet here (.pdf) offers some additional details though.

An interesting concept that was demonstrated was the introduction of a magnetic cover with integrated keyboard. There is a multitouch "Touch Cover" for touch typing, while a "Type Cover" integrates a keyboard with clickable keys. Taking a leaf from Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), the covers are available in a range of color options.

The move by Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) to sell its own tablet took many by surprise, given how this could put the company in competition with tablet manufacturers. In response, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer noted that while he appreciated the efforts of various tablet makers who are working on Windows 8 tablets, he noted: "With Windows 8, we didn't want to leave any seam uncovered ... Much like the need for mouse [introduced with Windows 1.0], we wanted to give Windows 8 its own companion."

The Windows RT version will ship first, to be followed three months later by the Windows 8 Pro version, says CNET.

For more:
- check out this article at eWeek
- check out this article at Computerworld

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