Microsoft Unveils Its Surface Tablet

The Wall Street Journal

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Microsoft Corp. on Monday unveiled the first computer it has ever made, a tablet called the Surface that comes with a keyboard and other features designed to stand out in a market dominated by Apple Inc. The new device, unveiled by Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer at an event for journalists here, is a sign of the new tactics the software giant has been forced to embrace as it tries to make up lost ground in the mobile market. Microsoft said the smallest Surface tablet is 9.3 millimeters thick and weighs 1.5 pounds, which is similar to Apple’s iPad, at 9.4 millimeters thick and 1.44 pounds. The Surface has a 10.6-inch screen compared with the iPad’s 9.7-inch screen. The Surface has a built-in kickstand and magnetic cover, which also acts as a touch keyboard. Microsoft didn’t say whether the device would connect to cellular data networks or would be Wi-Fi only. Microsoft didn’t identify contractors who will manufacture the hardware, or provide much clarity on timing — except to say that the first Surface models will arrive when Windows 8 is generally available, which is expected to be in the second half of the year.

Mr. Ballmer styled the new tablet device as a vehicle to exploit its forthcoming Windows 8 operating system, and a variant called Windows RT that relies on different kinds of computer chips. The software is the first from Microsoft designed with tablet computers in mind, offering an interface called Metro that is designed to be controlled by a user touching a display. Al Hilwa, an analyst at IDC, said the combination of PC and tablet features makes surface a “true converged” device. “A Swiss Army knife of a tablet?”

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