Microsoft’s ‘Surface’ tablet aims for productivity

The software maker said Monday that its device will attach to a removable rubberized keyboard that also acts like a book cover. CEO Steve Ballmer said Surface will be an entertainment device “without compromising the productivity that PCs are uniquely known for.” Microsoft Corp.’s broadside against the iPad is a dramatic step to ensure that its Windows software plays a major role in the increasingly important mobile computing market. “They are saying it’s a different world now and are trying to put the sexy back into the Microsoft brand,” said Gartner Inc. analyst Carolina Milanesi.

This product rendering released by Microsoft shows Surface, a 9.3 millimeter thick tablet with a kickstand to hold it upright and keyboard that is part of the device’s cover. It weighs under 1.5 pounds. The device is part of the software company’s effort to compete with Apple Inc. and its popular iPad tablet computer. (AP Photo/Microsoft)

Microsoft is linking the Surface’s debut with the release of its much-anticipated Windows 8 operating system, which has been designed with tablets in mind. The company hasn’t specified when Windows 8 will hit the market, but most analysts expect the software to come out in September or October.

One version of the Surface, which won’t go on sale until sometime in the fall, is 9.3 millimeters thick and works on the Windows RT operating system which was made for tablets that run on low-power chips designed by British chipmaker ARM Holdings PLC. It comes with a 0.7-millimeter thick kickstand to hold it upright and a 3-millimeter-thick touch keyboard cover that snaps on using magnets. The device weighs under 1.5 pounds.

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