The Surface tablet computer by Microsoft is displayed at its unveiling in Los Angeles, California, June 18, 2012. Microsoft Corp introduced its own line of tablet computers on Monday at a media event in Los Angeles, marking a major strategic shift for the software giant as it struggles to compete with Apple Inc and re-invent its aging Windows franchise. (Photo : REUTERS/David McNew)
Microsoft unveiled the Microsoft Surface tablet on Monday at a special media conference in Los Angeles.
The tablet comes in two forms, the Pro and RT, both of which will be built on the Windows 8 operating system. The tablets will also feature a 10.6-inch wide display with Gorilla Glass, its own stand, and will come with either 64 gigabytes or 128 GB of storage.
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The Surface RT tablet is the lighter and presumably less expensive of the two tablets. It runs Windows RT and Metro-based apps, and comes pre-loaded with Microsoft Office. The Surface Pro runs Windows 8 Pro, is built around Intel's i5 Ivy Bridge CPU, is slightly thicker and will likely be more expensive. More importantly, the tablet will also run anything that any other Windows 8 Pro desktop or notebook will run.
The devices also contain standard USB and HDMI ports, card slots, dual Wi-Fi antennae, a multitouch keyboard and a trackpad. The tablet can be attached to other keyboards and screens and utilized like a standard desktop PC. The tablets also include Bluetooth technology.
There was no mention of price for either model of the tablet.
Rumors prior to the announcement made mention of a partnership with Barnes & Nobles. However, there was no news of such a partnership at the media event.
Microsoft built its empire by selling its state-of-the-art software to third party hardware makers. However, in recent years, Microsoft's PC sales have slowed thanks to the re-emergence of a long-time foe. Apple's iPad tablet has turned the tide of the industry and Apple's own strategy of building both its own hardware and software has propelled the company into being the most valuable in the world.
The Surface tablets represent Microsoft's first attempt at building its own computer even though the giant has made attempts at its own hardware in other markets. The Xbox 360 gaming console and its predecessor have been highly successful in competing with Sony and Nintendo in the game industry. However, Microsoft's music player the Zune failed to compete with Apple's iPod.
According to USA Today, Microsoft Co-founder Bill Gates once predicted that tablets would be the most popular form of PCs sold in America at some point.