The tablet wars are no longer a two-horse race between Apple and Google.
At a press event in Los Angeles today, Microsoft unveiled Surface, a line of tablet devices running the company's next-generation Windows operating system.
The Surface tablets feature 10.6-inch touch-screens wrapped in a magnesium case that Microsoft calls VaporMg (pronounced "Vapor mag"). The distinctive feature of the new tablets is a magnetically-attached, 3mm-thick Touch Cover that folds down and functions as a full touchscreen keyboard.
Another cover option, the 5-mm thick Type Cover, has a built-in track pad. The keyboards power down when they're folded back against the tablet thanks to a built-in accelerometer.
The Surface tablets will be available in two distinct versions. The Windows RT version -- which is effectively the "light" version of Windows 8 -- will launch with Windows 8 in the fall, and run on an ARM CPU. While it won't have the full desktop version of Windows 8 (it runs only the "Metro" apps available through the Windows app store), it will include a version of Microsoft Office at no additional charge.
Surface RT tablet key specs
Windows RT operating system
Nvidia ARM CPU
676 grams/23.85 ounces
10.6-inch ClearType HD Display
31.5 watt hour battery
Ports: microSD, USB 2.0, micro HD video, 2x2 MIMO antennae
Storage options: 32GB and 64GB for Windows RT
Front and rear-facing "HD" cameras