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Microsoft Reveals Windows 8 Surface Tablet

CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled Microsoft Surface, a fully-functional Windows 8 tablet, during a presentation yesterday in Los Angeles, Calif.

The device, which will feature a 10.6 inch HD touch screen, will be available in two different models: a device featuring Windows 8 RT and one running Windows 8 Pro.

The RT version is expected for sometime later this year and will be available with either a 32- or 64-GB hard drive. Weighing in at 676 grams (approximately 1.5 lbs.), the RT tablet will come with a microSD reader and a USB 2.0 slot. It will also come preloaded with Windows RT versions of Office '15' applications.

Surface
Microsoft Surface with "Touch Cover" attachment

The Windows 8 Pro Surface is then expected to hit the market three months after Surface RT's release. Featuring more PC functionality than the RT version, it will ship with a microSDXC reader, USB 3.0 slot and will weigh 903 grams (approximately 2 lbs.).

Both versions will display a 16:9 aspect ratio and will ship with a touch cover that will double as a pressure-sensitive keyboard pad. A more traditional, button-based keyboard will also be available during its launch.

The Microsoft Surface tablet will also include a built-in kickstand, a rear- and front-facing camera and have access to Microsoft's Windows 8 Marketplace.

Surface RT Key Specs

Surface Pro Key Specs

  • OS: Windows 8 RT
  • Weight: 676 grams
  • Thickness: 9.3 mm
  • Display: 10.6 inches
  • Memory: 32 or 64 GB
  • USB: 2.0
  • Battery: 31.5 watt-hours
  • OS: Windows 8 Pro
  • Weight: 903 grams
  • Thickness: 13.5 mm
  • Display: 10.6 inches
  • Memory: 64 or 128 GB
  • USB: 3.0
  • Battery: 42 watt-hours

While Microsoft is primarily a software company, it isn't a stranger to the hardware market with its successful Xbox brand and it's discontinued Zune device line. However, the Surface marks the first time Microsoft is entering the PC hardware market, and this move looks to place Surface as a direct competitor to Apple's iPad.

"Microsoft founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen made a big bet -- a bet on software -- but it was always clear that we had to push hardware in ways that sometimes manufacturers hadn't envisioned," said Ballmer at the event."We believe that any intersection between human and machine can be made better when all aspects, hardware and software, are working together."

During the presentation, features of a prototype version running a preview version of Windows 7 were shown off to the audience of around 2,000 press. However, the demo did not go as smoothly as Microsoft would have wanted -- the device froze as Stephen Sinofsky, Microsoft president of Windows and Windows Live, was showing off Internet Explorer running on the device. After grabbing a backup device, the demonstration concluded without any further interruptions.

Microsoft said that price will be announced closer to release and that it "is expected to be competitive with a comparable ARM tablet or Intel Ultrabook-class PC," according to a press release.

About the Author

Chris Paoli is the site producer for Redmondmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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