Microsoft has done something that it never has in all its 37-year history of existence — create a computer.
Called the Surface, the company unveiled its home-grown line of tablet computers on Monday.
The new tablet line will comprise two different models, a thinner casual consumer device and a larger tablet that is aimed at competing with ‘ultrabook' class of computers.
Since its inception, Microsoft's bread and butter have come from its software.
However, with the introduction of its own tablet series, the company is looking at providing an integrated hardware-software product to its end-users, the way its rival Apple Inc does it.
According to a Microsoft press release, the smaller Surface tablet, 9.3 millimetres thick, will run Windows RT (a variant of the company's new operating system) and sport the highly popular ‘Office' suite of applications.
The bigger version, 13.5 millimetres thick, will be powered by a third-generation Intel Core processor and run Microsoft's yet-to-be released Windows 8 Pro operating system.
Both tablets will include a built-in QWERTY keyboard that doubles as a cover and feature a full-sized USB port, something the iPad is missing.
The company, however, is silent on pricing details and product availability. The press release says that the Surface for Windows RT would release with the general availability of Windows 8, which is widely expected by the end of 2012.
While tech analysts were impressed by Surface's specifications, many doubted whether the announcement would be a game-changer in the tablet market.
“My gut feeling is that this will not succeed and will go the way Microsoft's music player, the Zune, did. One of the reasons why the iPad is so popular is its huge ecosystem of applications [not its specifications] – something Microsoft doesn't quite have at the moment,” said Kiruba Shankar, tech-blogger.