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A Windows Tablet Surfaces

The Surface is Microsoft's official entry into the tablet market.

Courtesy Microsoft

In June, Microsoft made an announcement that surprised the tech world. The company best known for developing software was getting into the hardware business with a new line of tablet devices. The name for the new gadget was the Microsoft Surface.

The announcement revealed that there would be two major versions of the Surface. One would contain an ARM-based microprocessor. These chips are popular with mobile device manufacturers because of their small size and high efficiency. They don't consume as much power or generate as much heat as larger, faster chips. The second type of Surface would contain an Intel-based microprocessor. The ARM-based version would run Windows RT, a lighter version of the Windows 8 operating system found on Intel-based devices.

Both categories of the Surface show off the touch-screen interface supported by Windows 8. Later in the year, the company announced pricing, whichput the Surface in the same general market as the iPad.

Honorable Mention: In late October, Microsoft launched Windows 8, the latest iteration of its operating system. The new user interface was a marked departure from previous versions of Windows. The new OS contained features for touch-screen interfaces while still supporting older input devices like the keyboard and mouse combo. The goal was to have an operating system that worked across all manner of devices, from desktop computers to tablets.

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