1. ITV Report

Microsoft squares up to Apple over touchscreen tablets

Microsoft is squaring up to Apple with the launch of its new tablet computer called 'Surface'.

Microsoft's 'Surface', a 9.3 millimeter thick tablet Credit: Press Association

It comes as no surprise that Microsoft is looking to take a chunk out of the tablet market. Sales are expected to triple in the next two years, topping 180 million-a-year in 2013, easily beating traditional PCs.

Apple has already sold close to 70 million iPads.

Microsoft's latest innovation is a big change for the company which has relied on computer manufacturers to make and market machines which then run the Windows operating system.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer unveils 'Surface' Credit: Press Association

It could throw the world's largest software company into direct competition with its closest hardware partners such as Samsung and Hewlett-Packard.

Here's how the Surface and iPad compare:

  • The Surface boasts a thickness of 9.3 millimeters, versus the iPad's 9.4 millimeters
  • It will weigh about 1.5 pounds. Apple's iPads weigh 1.44 pounds and 1.46 pounds for the WiFi and 4G LTE versions, respectively
  • A 10.6-inch-diagonal screen, compared with the iPad's 9.7-inch screen. The Surface also features a unique 16:9 aspect ratio
  • The Surface is configurable with 32 GB or 64 GB of storage. Apple's iPad has 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB options
  • Pricing was not revealed on Monday, except that it would be "competitive" with current tablets and Intel-powered Ultrabooks
  • The RT Surface features a built-in kickstand and comes with a cover that doubles as an ultra-thin keyboard

I don't see this as an iPad killer, but it has a lot of potential... This raises more questions than answers. The story that Microsoft told today was incomplete. They focused on the hardware innovation but didn't talk about the services, the unique Microsoft assets that could make this product amazing.

– Sarah Rotman Epps, analyst at tech research firm Forrester

Contrary to expectations, Microsoft made no mention of integrating content and features from its top-selling Xbox game console into either tablet, or the Skype video calling service it bought last year.

MSNBC took the new Surface tablets out for a test run: See what they thought of the design features here.