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Microsoft Unveils 'Surface' Tablets

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) rolled out its own tablet Monday just weeks ahead of the debut of its new operating system designed for mobile computing. The Microsoft Surface, weighing in at 1.5 pounds, has a sleek magnesium case, a built-in stand for viewing and a connection for charging and linking the tablet to peripherals. It has a removable keyboard cover and it will come with a Neflix application. Surface "works great for entertainment," said Steven Sinofsky, head of Microsoft's Windows division. Redmond-Wash.-based Microsoft made the announcement in Los Angeles at the center of the music, film and television world, which Microsoft has already embraced to deliver content to its popular Xbox 360 game console. The Microsoft tablet will run Windows RT, the tablet version of Windows 8, the next edition of its flagship computer-operating system, which will for the first time run on both desktop computers and tablet devices. Windows 8 is Microsoft's best hope for competing with devices running Google Inc.'s Android operating system and with Apple Inc.'s iPad and iPhone products. Microsoft has almost no presence in the tablet market, which is expected to double in size, with sales of 118.9 million units this year, according to research firm Gartner Inc. Apple's iPad is expected to account for a little less than two-thirds of those sales and Android machines for nearly a third. Microsoft has spent the past two years developing Windows 8. The company is putting the finishing touches on the software before shipping it to manufacturers, which will load it on devices slated to hit stores in October or November, in time for the holiday-sales season. Many companies have tried to compete with Apple's iPad with tablets based on the Google Android operating system, but few products have sold well. In smartphones, Android phones collectively have a majority of the market, but Apple's iPhone remains a dominant hit. Microsoft has long manufactured keyboards, mice and other accessories, but hasn't always succeeded with consumer devices. Xbox has become the best selling gaming station, but its Zune music player designed to compete with Apple's iPod, never caught on with music buffs. Its KIN mobile phone died a quick death shortly after it appeared in 2010. Handset maker Nokia Corp. (NOK) is now is leading phone partner. Write to Steven D. Jones at

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