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Microsoft reveals new iPad competitor Surface

LOS ANGELES -- Microsoft has unveiled Surface, a tablet computer to compete with Apple's iPad.

CEO Steve Ballmer announced the new tablet, calling it part of a “whole new family of devices” the company is developing.

One version of the device, which won't go on sale until sometime in the fall, is .33 inches (9.3 millimeters) thick and works on the Windows RT operating system. It comes with a stand to hold it upright and a touch keyboard cover that snaps on using magnets. The device weighs less than 1.5 pounds (680 grams) and will cost about as much as other tablet computers.

The size is similar to the latest iPad, which is a little more than .33 inches (9.4 millimeters) and weighs 1.3 pounds (590 grams). Microsoft also promised that the Surface's price tag will be similar to the iPad, which sells for US$499 to US$829, depending on the model.

Microsoft'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.

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.

Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows division, called the device a “tablet that's a great PC — a PC that's a great tablet.”

A slightly thicker version — still less than a half-inch (less than 14 millimeters) and under 2 pounds (910 grams) — will work on Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 Pro operating system and cost as much as an Ultrabook, the company said. The pro version comes with a stylus that allows users to make handwritten notes on documents such as PDF files.

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Panos Panay, the general manager of the Microsoft Surface holds a credit card to compare the layers of the VaporMg case of the new Surface tablet computer at Hollywood's Milk Studios in Los Angeles, Monday, June 18.(AP)

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