Surface is Microsoft’s third major inroad into the world of tech hardware products, after the Xbox and Zune. It is almost certainly also its most important yet, and one that could decide the long-term fate of the company in its ongoing struggle against Google and Apple.
Although the £399 price tag pits it squarely against the new iPad, one must not forget that this model has a 32GB onboard storage, a quad-core Tegra 3 system-on-chip clocked at up to 1.4GHz and 2GB of RAM.
There are a few things worth noting from yesterday's Surface announcement. Firstly, the model announced was the Surface with Windows RT, which is ARM-based. You can currently only pre-order this one, and not the Intel-based Surface Pro. Microsoft failed to mention when Surface Pro would go on pre-order.
Secondly, the price includes a full version of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013. Although not a straight apples-to-apples comparison, it’s worth noting that the 2010 edition, which runs on the traditional Windows OS and can be installed on up to three computers, costs around £85.
Thirdly, there’s the fact that both versions of the Surface come with a 10.6in display, much bigger than an iPad and marginally bigger than the 10.1in screen found on most Android tablets. With 149 PPI, it has roughly the same pixel density (13 per cent higher than the iPad 2's display).
Lastly, unlike the iPad, the Surface features a microSDXC card slot, a full size USB 2.0 port, a kickstand, as well as an official cover keyboard that sports its own touchpad.
This means that you can update it to 96GB for around £40, and to 64GB for around a tenner. In contrast, a 16GB iPad 2 costs £329, while a 64GB model would probably cost £429.