Microsoft has lifted the lid on the first-ever Windows 8-powered slates, as it gears up for an assault on a tablet market dominated by Apple's iPad.
Available with an Intel or ARM processor and in 32GB or 64GB storage options, the tablets house 10.6-inch displays and come in at 13.5mm thick. They also feature a stylus accessory harnessing a new tech dubbed 'digital ink' that enables touch-free text and input recognition.
Co-opting the live tiles of Windows Phone and bringing them to tablets for the first time, the Microsoft-branded Windows 8 slates take in a selection of covers that attach via magnets and which double as keyboards with trackpads.
David McQueen, Principal Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, said: “Specific pricing was not mentioned in the release (although the ARM-based tablet will be cheaper than the Intel version) but this will be vital to market acceptance as will screen size, memory and applications – all of these are important points of differentiation in the tablet space.
"Surprisingly, the Surface will be larger and heavier than the iPad with a 10.6 inch display, which may not differentiate it enough from the Apple product.”
Prior to the launch it had been thought that Nokia, which has been closely allied to Microsoft since Stephen Elop took charge at the Finnish phone-maker, would assume manufacturing duties for the debut Windows 8 slate.