Microsoft's Major Announcement: New 'Surface' Tablet

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The wait is over. Microsoft had been sending invites to a super secret event on Monday, June 18, where the company planned for a ‘major’ announcement. No other details about the nature of the event had been disclosed. Microsoft chose to keep quiet on this particular topic and built quite some hype for the announcement.

Speculation included the unveiling of a Barnes and Noble tablet, since Microsoft announced a $300 million, 17.6 percent stake in Barnes & Noble's Nook e-book business in April. However, a Barnes & Noble spokesperson said the company would not be a part of the announcement.

Other predictions included a tablet that ties into the Xbox platform based on Microsoft’s Surface touch-based interface. The gaming news site Shifted2U posted alleged leaked documents over the weekend for the specifications of “Xbox Surface,” a gaming and entertainment tablet that acts as an extension to the Xbox.

The announcement, held at Milk Studios, the photography studio of a media company with locations in New York, was Microsoft’s first tablet called Surface. It will run Windows 8 and Windows RT, a version of Windows 8 for ARM devices such as tablets.

The Surface attempts to take advantage of one of the few criticisms of Apple’s iPad—that it is better for consuming content than creating it. CEO Steve Ballmer said Surface will be an entertainment device “without compromising the productivity that PCs are uniquely known for.” Some cool features displayed last night include the keyboard cover with a multitouch track pad, 10.6-inch display and a built in kickstand.

“They are saying it’s a different world now and trying to put the sexy back into the Microsoft brand,” said Gartner Inc. analyst Carolina Milanesi.

There is no official price listing or date set for the Surface, but it’s expected to be released in the fall, right in time for holiday shopping.

The Windows 8 system is expected to be released in September or October, in time for devices that will ship for the holiday season. Windows 8 is considered to be the biggest change in decades to the widely used operating system from Microsoft Corp. It has been designed so that it can run desktop, laptop and tablet computers, giving PC makers a better chance of competing with Apple Inc.'s iPad.

The announcement was accessible via numerous live blogs such as The Verge, Engadget, ABCNews and Ubergizmo.

In case you missed it, the video of the presentation is now available for viewing. Click here to watch the on-demand keynote for Microsoft Surface.




Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli
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