After days of speculation and rumors, Microsoft's major announcement has just been unveiled at a press event in Los Angeles: a Surface tablet. We 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).
Microsoft's Intel-based Surface tablet will run Windows 8 Pro, with a thickness of 13.5mm, a weight of 1.9lbs, and USB 3.0 support. This particular version will also include magnesium casing and a built-in kickstand, but will ship with either 64GB or 128GB storage. Additionally, the Intel version will include additional digital ink support through a pen that magnetizes to the body of the tablet, and a 10.6-inch ClearType "Full HD" display. Both of Microsoft's Surface tablets feature optional Touch and Type keyboard covers.
Microsoft says suggested retail pricing will be announced closer to availability and is expected to be competitive with a comparable ARM tablet or Intel Ultrabook-class PC. The Windows RT PC will be available at the time of the Windows 8 general availability (expected in October), with the Windows 8 Pro model to ship about three months later. Surface will be available through Microsoft's physical retail stores in the US and through select online outlets of the Microsoft Store.
Check out our hands-on with Microsoft's new Surface tablet PC.