Borrowing Apple’s zeal for secrecy, Microsoft only unveiled this morning the exact location of its clandestine press event to the gathered media/press in Los Angeles. The reason behind the extreme measure became more obvious just hours ago as the software giant’s CEO, Steve Ballmer, took to the stage at Milk Studios Los Angeles and unveiled the Microsoft Surface tablet PC.
The first major venture into hardware since its successful game console Xbox and the now defunct Zune media player, the Microsoft Surface is essentially identical to the tablet industry, Apple iPad, in weight and thickness. One difference is Microsoft Surface’s slightly larger screen size, a 10.6-inch display versus iPad’s 9.7-inch. Another difference is Microsoft Surface with be available in two variants – a thinner version powered by ARM chipset with Windows RT operating system and one with 22nm Ivy Bridge chip by Intel running on the upcoming Windows 8 Pro, which is “thicker” at just 13.5 mm. Both will be quipped with VaporMg Case & Stand, Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s new iPad Smart Case. There are two interchangeable keyboards/covers as well. The Touch Cover is an integrated keyboard and trackpad that supports multi-touch. The other, the Type Cover, a thin version of a regular laptop keyboard, with a thickness of around 2 mm.
Though Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer did not go into details on the business aspect of these new tablets, a lot is riding on them. Since Apple’s introduction of the iPad and competing tablet devices, Microsoft has seen a steady decline in the usage of its Windows OS, especially among first time PC users. If successful, the Microsoft Surface might be first stop-gate measure to slow the propagation of Apple, Google, and others on what was once Microsoft’s turf. No confirmation on availability and price at the moment but more Microsoft stated more detailed information to come very soon.