At an event hosted in Los Angeles, Microsoft showed off its first computer in history, a tablet with a super thin keyboard which will be known as Surface, and is offered as an alternative to Apple’s iPad. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft Chief Executive was on hand to tout the highlights of the new tablet that is only 9.3 millimeters thick and weighs-in at only 1.5 pounds. The weight is similar to the iPad, and the Surface’s 10.6 inch screen is slightly larger than iPad’s 9.7 inch display. The Surface magnetic cover is also a keyboard, and Microsoft did not indicate whether the new tablet would be compatible with cellular data networks or would be restricted to Wi-Fi access only.
According to head of the Windows, Steve Sinofsky, Microsoft will sell the Surface through the company’s retail stores and online and it will “be priced like comparable tablets”. Product availability is expected to come in the second half of 2012 to coincide with the upcoming Windows 8 general availability launch. The new tablet will run Windows RT edition of the Windows 8 operating systems which has been optimized for tablets and will use the Metro touch interface. Ballmer used the “no compromises” term repeatedly to emphasize the fact that this tablet can use work-grade applications such as Microsoft Word and Excel, and it won’t be limited to just web surfing and movies and games. IDC analyst Al Hilwa characterized the combined tablet and PC features a “truly converged” compute device that may become known as “A Swiss Army knife of a tablet?”