Microsoft has announced a range of brand new tablet devices, designed to help them claw back some of the market share from Apple.
The new Surface tablets were revealed at a special event held by Microsoft in Los Angeles this week, an event so closely guarded that the invitations were sent out just days in advance.
The Surface devices will run on the brand new Windows 8 operating system, and feature a 10.6-inch high definition screen with widescreen display, an integrated kickstand for easy viewing of videos, and either an Intel or ARM chip.
However, what makes the Surface tablet truly stand out from its competitors is the innovative "covers"; a detachable, lightweight keyboard and trackpad that attaches to the tablet magnetically.
Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said at the Surface launch: "It was always clear that what our software could do would require us to push hardware, sometimes where our partners hadn't envisioned. With Windows 8 we did not want to leave any stone uncovered."
This represents Microsoft's first foray into the tablet and mobile device market, and Ballmer said the Surface tablets were part of "a whole new family of devices" that Microsoft is currently developing.
Microsoft has taken a bold step in trying to compete with the big boys of Apple in the tablet market; out of 60 million tablets that were sold worldwide in 2011, 40 million of those were iPads. The Surface devices certainly look impressive, but their long-term success will ultimately come down to the price range of the tablets and the range of apps that will be made available.