Microsoft plans to launch its Windows 8-powered Surface tablet in the near future as answer to Apple's extremely successful iPad.
The company will release two versions of the device including one powered by an ARM processor that is more like a traditional tablet running Windows RT, and the other will be powered by Intel's 22nm Ivy Bridge chips running the desktop version of Windows 8.
The Windows RT version will be 9.3mm thin, and will weigh 1.5lbs. It features a built-in kickstand and is the first PC to have a vapor-deposited magnesium case. Both a 32GB and 64GB model will be released.
The Intel-based Surface model will run Windows 8 Pro. The tablet will be 13.5mm thick, and weigh 1.9lb. Its features include USB 3.0 support, built-in kickstand, magnesium casing and will ship with either 64GB or 128GB of internal storage. This version will also feature digital ink support through a pen that magnetizes to the body of the device.
Microsoft also plans to release two Smart Cover-like devices that will attach to the surface magnetically. These accessories, known as the Touch Cover and Type Cover, will not only protect the device, but also turn into a full sized keyboard complete with a build-in track pad.
Microsoft recently stated that using the Touch Cover is "twice as efficient as typing on glass," criticizing the iPad's on-screen keyboard.
Microsoft did not announce any information on pricing and availability, but did state that both the ARM and Intel versions of the Surface will be price competitive with other high-end tablets.
The company's Windows 8 software should launch sometime before the end of this year.