Microsoft Surface Tablet: Full Keyboard, Windows 8

Dennis Faas's picture

For months, PC makers Asus, Acer, and Dell have talked at length about their plans to build a tablet computer running Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system (OS).

But while they talked, Microsoft acted. Now the software giant has unveiled its very own slate computer, which may pose the greatest threat yet to Apple's dominance of the lucrative tablet market.

In a presentation on Monday, Microsoft formally unveiled what it calls "Surface". It's a tablet computer based on a special "RT" version of the company's upcoming Windows 8 OS.

Surface is the first tablet computer directly designed and sold by Microsoft.

Surface Specs Similar to iPad's

As far as hardware specifications go, Surface is quite similar to Apple's iPad. It features a 10.6-inch high-definition display, plus front- and rear-facing cameras.

The entire package is just 9.3 millimeters thick and weighs only 1.5 pounds. (Source:

At the super-secret unveiling of the new device, Microsoft indicated there will be two versions of Surface available when it launches. One will provide 64 gigabyte (GB) of data storage capability, the other, 32 GB.

However, within three months of that launch Microsoft says it will release additional models running a more comprehensive version of Windows 8, and offering a storage capacity increased to 128 GB.

Features Include Full Keyboard, Durable Casing

There are several features Microsoft hopes will immediately set Surface apart from its primary competition. One difference is, when folded down, the tablet's cover acts as a full keyboard.

Another is that Surface's casing is made of durable magnesium, providing its innards with some extra protection.

Microsoft has also included a special pen tool that, when clicked into the tablet, effectively acts as a kickstand to hold it up at a convenient viewing angle.

Although Microsoft has so far refused to provide details, the company indicated that Surface would be released for general sale sometime before Christmas, 2012 -- probably in the fall.

Pricing of the new Surface also remains vague. Microsoft said only that Surface would be marketed at a price point comparable to other currently available tablets.

Some insiders take this to mean that Surface will be sold for around $499, the base price for Apple's iPad 3. (Source:

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