New kid on the block: Microsoft launches Surface to break iPad clout

Microsoft Corp introduced its own line of tablet computers on Monday at a much-hyped press 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

Written by Reuters | Los Angeles | Published: June 20, 2012 1:13 am

Microsoft Corp introduced its own line of tablet computers on Monday at a much-hyped press 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.

The new tablet line,named Surface,includes a consumer device aimed directly at the Apple iPad,and another,larger machine designed to compete with lightweight laptops. Both include a keyboard that doubles as a cover,and both will be powered by versions of the new Windows 8 operating system.

The move breaks with Microsoft’s operating model of the past 37 years,which has relied on computer manufacturers to make and market machines running Windows. It could throw the world’s largest software company into direct competition with its closest hardware partners such as Samsung and Hewlett-Packard.

However,the success of Apple in recent years has underscored the benefits of an integrated approach to hardware and software,and Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said on Monday that the company “didn’t want to leave anything uncovered” as it rolled out Windows 8.

The new software is the biggest overhaul of Windows in years,and features a new touch-friendly interface dubbed “Metro”. It is scheduled to be available for the Christmas shopping season. The lighter,thinner version of the Surface tablet,built on an Nvidia Corp chip designed by ARM Holdings,will be the first to market at the same time as the general release of Windows 8,and will feature Microsoft’s popular Office suite of applications. It is comparable to Apple’s new iPad,heavier but slightly thinner. It has a 10.6 inch screen and comes in 32GB and 64GB memory sizes.

A second,heavier tablet aimed at the new generation of lightweight laptops called “ultrabooks”,running on traditional Intel Corp chips,will come in 64GB and 128GB models. That will be available about three months after the ARM version,Microsoft said. The company gave no details on pricing,except that they would be competitive with comparable ARM tablets and Intel-powered Ultrabooks.

Microsoft Surface VS Apple iPad

* The RT Surface boasts a thickness of 9.3 millimeters,versus the iPad’s 9.4 millimeters

* It will weigh about 1.5 pounds. iPads weigh 1.44 pounds and 1.46 pounds for the WiFi and 4G LTE versions,respectively

* A 10.6-inch-diagonal screen,compared with the iPad’s 9.7-inch screen. The Surface also features a unique 16:9 aspect ratio

* The RT Surface is configurable with 32 GB or 64 GB of storage. Apple’s iPad has 16 GB,32 GB and 64 GB options

* The Surface has a built-in kickstand and a cover that doubles as an ultra-thin keyboard. iPad supports a plethora of third-party covers,stands and keyboards

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