Microsoft Monday announced a new tablet called “Microsoft Surface,” a device with a 10.6-inch screen that runs on the company’s new Windows 8 operating system.
After days of speculation and rumors, Microsoft’s major announcement has just been unveiled at a press event in Los Angeles: the Surface tablet. As many suspected the company might be working on its own tablet, and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer revealed the device on stage at Milk Studios in Los Angeles today. Discussing Microsoft’s history with Windows, Xbox, and Kinect, Ballmer introduced a video of the company’s hardware products over the years before unveiling Windows 8′s companion, the Microsoft Surface.
Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky took to the stage to describe the hardware of Microsoft’s Surface tablet. There will be two options for Microsoft’s Surface PC, one powered by Intel’s 22nm Ivy Bridge chips running Windows 8, and another Surface powered by an ARM chipset and Windows RT. The Windows RT version is just 9.3mm thin, weighs 1.5lbs, includes a built-in kickstand, and is the first PC with a vapor-deposited (PVD) magnesium case, according to Microsoft. It will ship in 32GB or 64GB versions, complete with a 10.6-inch ClearType HD display (of unknown resolution).
It features a magnesium case and built-in stand, said the company. A keyboard and touch pad are built into its cover, and cameras are built into the front and back.
It will come in two versions, the company said, each weighing less than two pounds.
“It’s a whole new family of computing devices from Microsoft,” said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO, from the stage of a Los Angeles auditorium packed with reporters. “It is a tool to surface your passions and creativity.”
Some critical specifications were not mentioned — including price, screen resolution, battery life or the specific release date.
Windows 8 was previously promised for consumers for later this year.
The Surface is clearly meant to compete with Apple’s iPad and other tablets already on the market, and Microsoft demonstrated several features existing tablets only have as accessories, if at all.
The basic version, which weighs 1.5 pounds and is only 9 millimeters thick, is designed to run on a low-power version of Windows 8, called RT. The two-pound Surface Pro will use more powerful Ivy Bridge processors from Intel. The Pro, 13.5 mm thick, allows users to type on its keyboard, move things with their fingers on the touch-pad screen, or write on it with a stylus.