Stealing a page from Apple's play book, Microsoft on Monday unveiled two sleek new Windows-based tablets -- dubbed Surface -- aimed at challenging the category-defining iPad.
Microsoft's Surface tablets feature 10.6-inch ClearType full HD displays, with a 16:9 aspect ratio. The company said two models of Surface will be available: one running an ARM processor featuring Windows RT, and the second with a third-generation Intel Core processor featuring Windows 8 Pro.
"From the fast and fluid interface, to the ease of connecting you to the people, information and apps that users care about most, Surface will be a premium way to experience all that Windows has to offer," Microsoft said in announcing the tablets, which it introduced at an event in Los Angeles.
Microsoft didn't announce pricing or availability for the Surface tablets, which appear to have Wi-Fi connectivity but not 3G or 4G wireless built-in. The company said suggested retail pricing "is expected to be competitive with a comparable ARM tablet or Intel Ultrabook-class PC."
The Surface tablet for Windows RT will release with the general availability of Windows 8 -- slated for this fall -- and the Windows 8 Pro model will be available about 90 days later. Both will be sold in the Microsoft Store locations in the U.S. and available through select online Microsoft Stores.
Movies, music, games and apps for the Surface tablets will be available through the Windows Store, Microsoft's digital storefront for Windows 8-based apps and content.
Microsoft touted the industrial design of the tablets. The casing of Surface is created using an approach called VaporMg (pronounced "vapor mag"), which creates a finish "akin to a luxury watch" and allows parts to be molded as thin as 0.65 millimeter, thinner than the typical credit card. The VaporMg technique allows the Surface tablets to include a built-in kickstand that adds no extra weight or thickness, according to Microsoft.
The Surface for Windows RT tablet will be about 9.3 millimeters thick and 676 grams (about 1.5 pounds), with either 32 or 64 Gigabytes of memory. Surface for Windows 8 Pro is estimated to be 13.5 millimeters thick and 903 grams (about 2 pounds), with 64 or 128 GB of memory.
The tablets' 3-millimeter Touch Cover uses pressure-sensitive technology to sense keystrokes as gestures, which Microsoft said allows users to touch-type significantly faster than with an on-screen keyboard. In addition, a 5-millimeter Type Cover adds moving keys for a "more traditional typing feel," the company said.
Microsoft claimed the Surface tablet, developed entirely in-house, enhances the Windows ecosystem for its hardware partners by "delivering a unique contribution to an already strong and growing ecosystem of functional and stylish devices delivered by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs)."
Microsoft provides information about Surface at www.surface.com.