Microsoft Unveils Surface Tablets (VIDEO)

Source: Scott Martin, Edward C. Baig and Jefferson Graham / USA Today

Microsoft unveiled a family of home-brewed tablets to rival Apple’s iPad at an extremely hush-hush event here in Los Angeles shrouded in mystery and speculation.

Microsoft is taking a huge leap with a mobile-friendly tablet, built on its new Window 8 operating system, which rolls out this fall. The Microsoft Surface Pro and RT tablets will be designed in-house. The company is stepping into the tablet market at a critical juncture when growth in PC sales is slowing and consumer interest in iPads is soaring. Even some tablets built on Google’s rival Android mobile operating system, such as the Amazon Kindle Fire, are selling strongly.

“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,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said at the invitation-only event here. “Today we want to add another bit of excitement” to the Windows 8 story.

Microsoft is no stranger to tablets. Back in 2001, Microsoft Co-founder Bill Gates predicted tablets would be the most popular form of PCs sold in America within five years. Tablets still haven’t overtaken PCs, but they finally have the momentum—thanks to Apple, not Microsoft.

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