Microsoft on Monday unveiled a tablet computer called Surface in what amounts to a major change in strategy to battle Apple’s popular iPhone.
The world’s largest maker of software launched its Windows operating system in August, aimed at touch screens, and wants to give a strong initial impact with its own device to stimulate demand.
This is a change in the operational model of Microsoft for the past 37 years, which has depended on computer manufacturers to make and publicize Windows machines. The launch could put the Seattle giant in direct competition with other hardware partners like Samsung Electronics and Hewlett-Packard.
“It embodies hardware and software working together,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, according to The Verge’s live blog of the announcement. It is one of the few times in company history that Microsoft engineered both the hardware and the software of a device, with the Surface joining the Zune MP3 player, Kin smartphone, and Xbox 360 gaming console.
However, Apple’s success in recent years has shown the benefits of a common approach to hardware and software, and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said during the presentation of a prototype of the new device in a highly anticipated media event in Los Angeles that the company “does not leave anything uncovered.”
The tablet has two versions: one with a Nvidia, ARM Holdings, slightly heavier but thinner than the iPhone, with a 10.6-inch display and memory of 32 GB and 64 GB. The second, larger, and coming out three months later, hopes to compete with lightweight portable (“ultrabooks”), will have an Intel processor, 64 GB models will and 128 GB.
Both will have a flip keypad which can become. The different models of tablets will be available at launch Windows 8 before the end of the year, according to a statement from Microsoft.
No details were mentioned about how much the device, except that the price will be “comparable” with the Ultrabooks equipped with ARM and Intel.
“We believe that any intersection between human and machine can be made better when all aspects of the experience — hardware and software — are considered and working together,” Ballmer said at the invitation-only event here. “Today we want to add another bit of excitement” to the Windows 8 story.
Microsoft shares rose slightly in after-hours operations. In regular Nasdaq session ended with a decline of 0.6 percent, to $ 29.84.
Sales of tablets would triple over the next two years, reaching 180 million units per year in 2013 and easily surpassing the growth of traditional personal computers. Since its launch two years ago, Apple has sold 67 million iPad.