Microsoft yesterday (18th/June/2012) unveiled its own Windows-powered tablet computer called Surface, altering its strategy of focusing on software and relying on partners to make the machines in a renewed attempt to take on Apple's iPad.
This puts Microsoft in competition with other manufacturers planning to release tablets designed for Windows 8.
The touchscreen computers will be powered by its upcoming Windows 8 system and contain a choice of an Intel or ARM-based processor.
The devices have 10.6 inch (26.9cm) displays, built-in kickstands and are housed in magnesium cases - which the microsoft described as the first of their kind. The device's cover serves as a track pad and a full keyboard.
ARM-based tablets are 9.3mm (0.4 inches) thick - slightly less than the iPad - and run the Windows RT version of the new system. The Verge reported that the chipset will be built by Nvidia.
The versions using Intel's x86 technology run Windows 8 Pro and are 13.5mm (0.5 inches) thick. The specifications mean the Surface tablets have bigger screens than the iPad but are heavier.
The new strategy threatens to sour Microsoft's relationship with some PC makers, many of which have been investing to develop their own Windows 8 tablets and may not want to compete directly with Microsoft.
The software maker is aiming to release Windows 8 in time for the end-of-year holidays and will have a version for x86 chips from Intel and for ones based on ARM Holdings's technology, which is also used in the iPad. The Surface tablet will be available in versions running both chip designs.
Microsoft said the Surface's price will be announced closer to when the devices are available and will be "competitive with a comparable ARM tablet or Intel Ultrabook-class PC."
The world's largest software maker is stepping up its assault on the tablet market as consumers choose the devices over laptops, weakening the personal-computer market and curbing Windows revenue.