Here at its mysterious, last-minute press event in Los Angeles, Microsoft just confirmed it will sell its own Microsoft-branded Windows 8 RT tablet under the Surface badge. Measuring just 9.3mm thick, the Surface for Windows RT is built around an angled, all-magnesium VaporMg case that weighs just under 1.3 pounds, with an NVIDIA-made ARM chip powering the whole affair. Microsoft’s hardware partner has also gone all-out on extra touches, such as a built-in stand, twin 2×2 MIMO antennas for WiFi, and a 10.6-inch optically-bonded, Gorilla Glass 2-covered HD display. Not unlike Apple’s last two generations, there’s a magnetically attached cover, but it’s more than just a protector: here, it includes a full multi-touch keyboard and trackpad. As for expansion, you’ll get one each of HDMI, microSD and USB 2.0 (sorry folks, no 3.0) as well as either 32GB or 64GB of storage, while software includes the usual Windows 8 accoutrements and a newly Metrofied version of Netflix. The Surface for Windows RT should arrive roughly in step with Windows 8, but Microsoft is only promising pricing “competitive” with similar ARM tablets — and you’re looking for a tablet with more grunt, you can spring for the Intel-packing Surface for Windows 8 Pro.
As for the pro– it’s announced one for each of the main varieties of Windows. That includes the Surface for Windows 8 Pro, which is slightly larger and decidedly more Intel-based than its ARM-fueled counterpart for Windows RT. In addition to the more full-fledged OS, it packs a larger 42 W-h battery, an Ivy Bridge Core i5 processor (at least in the model on display today), USB 3.0 ports instead of 2.0, and your choice of 64GB or 128GB of storage (double the standard offerings of the RT Surface). You’ll also get a higher 1080p resolution from the 10.6-inch ClearType display, but it comes wrapped in a package that’s 13.5 mm thick and weighs 903 grams (compared to just 9.3 mm and 676 grams for the RT). That’s apparently not big enough to disqualify it from Microsoft’s new keyboard-laden covers, though, and it even gets another accessory of its own: a pen with “Palm Block.” As for pricing and availability, Microsoft is only going as far to say that it will be “on par with Ultrabook-class PCs” and available about three months after the Windows 8 launch (when the RT model will be available).