has unveiled its first-ever tablet computer to compete with Apple
's popular iPad
The U.S. technology giant unveiled its Surface
tablet computer Monday during an event in Los Angeles. The new device will operate on Microsoft's Windows RT system, and can be attached to a cover that has a touch keyboard.
Microsoft did not give an exact date when the new Surface will officially go on the market, but it is expected to be released simultaneously with the company's new Windows 8 operating system around September or October.
The Surface tablet signals a new course for software giant Microsoft, as it competes directly with rival company Apple for a share of the hardware tablet computer market. Microsoft has generally concentrated on marketing its dominant Windows operating system through such computer hardware manufacturers such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard.
Microsoft's previous hardware products offerings have turned out to be costly failures - its Zune music player faltered against Apple's popular iPod device, while its Kin smartphone was pulled from the market almost immediately after it was introduced in 2010.
Microsoft's one major successful hardware product, the gaming console Xbox, has only begun to make the company a profit after several years on the market.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.