Microsoft launches self-branded tablets

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Microsoft launches self-branded tablets

Shot at Ultrabooks, the iPad.

Microsoft has revealed its long-awaited entry to the tablet market, unveiling two devices that will run versions of its forthcoming Windows 8 operating system.

Ditching its traditional strategy of using partner-built hardware, the software giant revealed the tablets with Microsoft branding, and borrowing the name of its table-top, multi-user device, the Surface.

The tablet will come in two varieties, one based on an Intel chipset and the other based on a lower-power, but likely cheaper, ARM chipset. Both will run Windows 8 when it is released later this year, but the ARM version is set to run a hobbled version dubbed Windows RT.

The main device is a 10.6-inch tablet with Corning Gorilla Glass multi-touch screen, 16:9 aspect ratio up to "full HD" or 1080p resolution, according to Microsoft.

The ARM-based Surface is likely to have a slightly less capable, 720p screen.

Both tablets will come in a magnesium-based case with an integrated kickstand at varying thicknesses; the ARM variant measures at 9.3mm compared to the Intel-based tablet at 13.5mm.

The Intel model is also much heavier at 903 grams as opposed to the ARM one, which weighs 676 grams.

The Surface has two magnetic cover accessory options: a capacitive-based Touch Cover that has a full multi-touch keyboard, and the plastice Type Cover, with tactile keys.

Hand writing recognition will also be available on the Intel-based Surface mode..

The Intel model will also offer faster USB 3.0 ports and a mini DisplayPort for external monitors.

The company said it will make apps available from the Windows Store for the Surface, including music, videos and Xbox games.

The ARM Surface will be capable of running Office Home and Student 2013 RT already installed on the device. The Intel variant will not come with productivity software.

The ARM-processor equipped Surface for Windows RT will come in 32 and 64GB versions, whereas the Intel variant will feature more storage at 64 and 128GB options.

Availability for either model or their pricing was not revealed by Microsoft executives at the launch.

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