Microsoft has announced a new Windows 8 tablet, called Surface, that it will make itself and launch in the coming months.
Announced by Steve Ballmer at an event in Los Angeles, the new tablet will allow Microsoft to push the best features of its Windows 8 operating system rather than rely on manufacturers like Asus, Acer, HP and others to do all the hard work against the iPad.
The new Surface be 9.3mm thick, and have edges bevelled at 22 degrees so as to fit better in the hand, Microsoft says.The case will be made from magnesium rather than aluminium, weigh 676g and come with a 10.6-inch 1366 x 768 pixel resolution display. It will have Wi-Fi, of course, and a built-in kickstand so you can prop it on a desk to watch movies or to work. Other specs include a microSD slot and either 32GB or 64GB storage options.
The new tablet will also have two webcams, called LifeCams by Microsoft, to chat with the people that "you care about". The rear-facing LifeCam is angled to 22 degrees so you can flip out the Kickstand and record meetings and events hands-free. The tablet also comes with stereo speakers and dual microphones tuned for Skype.
"Surface is thin, light and it has a great battery. At 9.3mm, Surface for Windows RT is just thin enough to still sport a full sized USB port," says Microsoft. "Print, share, or charge your phone on the go. Head out knowing that you are ready for anything."
Microsoft however hasn't detailed performance or battery life at this stage.
Those that need a cover will be able to get one but, in a clever move, Microsoft has made the cover a connectible keyboard and trackpad just 3mm thick. It connects with magnets, very much like the Smart Cover does on the iPad.
For the professionals who want more, a second slightly ticker Microsoft Surface for Windows 8 Pro tablet will available with more memory and a pen.
“We believe that any intersection between human and machine can be made better when all aspects of the experience — hardware and software — are considered and working together,” said Ballmer at the event before adding that "We see that combination working in our PC ecosystem. We believe in the strength of that ecosystem. Much like Windows 1 needed the mouse, we wanted to give Windows 8 it's own hardware."
The Surface will be part of a whole new family of computing devices from Microsoft the CEO added.
The Microsoft Surface will launch with Windows 8 RT, which is expected to be in October. Microsoft says pricing will be decided nearer the launch date.