Microsoft seeks to rival Apple iPad with two tablet computers

Microsoft has announced details of its first tablet computers and the specialised manufacturing process used to create them.

The technology company yesterday unveiled two models of its Surface tablet, which are designed to take on the dominance of the Apple iPad and represents the group’s first move into personal computer manufacturing.

The company said in a statement that its VaporMg (pronounced Vapor-Mag) moulding and particle depositing process allowed the creation of light and rigid magnesium-based parts thinner than a typical credit card.

This allowed the tablet to include an adjustable stand in its casing that added no weight or thickness to the product.

Surface computers will include a 3mm-thick magnetically attachable ‘Touch Cover’ that looks like a keyboard laid out in front of the tablet but relies on sensing the movement of typing fingers rather than the actual pressing of keys.

Microsoft claims that this will allow users to touch-type significantly faster than with an on-screen keyboard.

The computers are also designed to work with a digital pen accessory and will block out touch input from the user’s hands when the stylus is held close to the screen.

One of the Surface models will run on a processor built by UK company ARM Holdings, with the other using an Intel chip.

The announcement by Microsoft chief executive officer Steve Ballmer confirmed recent speculation that the company was moving into the tablet market, where other companies such as Samsung and Hewlett-Packard have failed to make much headway against Apple.

Microsoft is better known for its software, including the Windows operating system, although it has produced hardware before, most notably the Xbox games console and accompanying Kinect motion control system.