Microsoft has unveiled two brand new self-built Windows Surface tablets at a press event in LA on 18 June local time. The two new tablets are called Surface RT and Surface 8 Pro. At the event Microsoft failed to give firm release dates for the Windows Surface RT tablet and the Windows Surface 8 Pro tablet, but did manage to give some rough timings as to when people could buy them - with the Windows Surface RT going on sale first in autumn this year. See also Microsoft Surface review.

The Windows Surface RT is set to be a lower-end model compared to the Surface 8 Pro and although no pricing for either tablet has been announced, one can safely say that it will be the cheaper of the two models. See also Microsoft Surface Tablets launch: As it happened

Although there has been no significant hands-on time allowed with the Surface tablets, our colleagues in the US at PC World are very impressed with what Microsoft have come up with, and they are widely tipping the Microsoft tablets to over take Google Android and become serious competitors to Apple's dominance with its iPad.  Visit our Microsoft Surface RT vs Apple iPad comparison review.

Microsoft Windows Surface RT tablet release date

Microsoft has announced that its own-brand Surface tablet will be released on 26 October along with its Windows 8 operating system. Go to Windows 8 release date and features UK.

As expected the Windows 8 tablet will go on sale along with Microsoft's revamped cross-platform operating system. It is the ARM-based Surface RT which will go on sale in October with the Surface Pro due around 90 days later, so early in 2013. See also: Microsoft Surface RT vs Apple iPad comparison review.

As mentioned above the Windows Surface RT tablet is the lower-specced of the two newly unveiled tablets, however that is not to say that it is a bad tablet. Far from it. The reaction that the Surface RT has received from those that had a small amount of time with the device has been very positive. See also iPad Mini release date, specs and rumours

Its screen size, inclusion of full USB 2.0 ports, built-in kick stand and cover, optical bonding display and sturdy build are all features that are getting well received. See Microsoft Surface 8 Pro and RT Tablets specs.

Microsoft Windows Surface 8 Pro tablet release date

After Microsoft has launched its 'revolutionary' Windows 8 OS and first ever tablet the Windows Surface RT - both in autumn this year - it will then launch its high-end tablet the Windows Surface 8 Pro "three months later". So you could be waiting until early 2013 to get your hands on one of these. Once again, no pricing has been mentioned for the Windows Surface 8 Pro.

However, if you were to apply some common sense to the announcements made at the unveiling of the Surface tablets in LA, you can potentially see a clever release date strategy in place. By confirming that both Windows 8 OS and the Windows Surface RT will launch together in autumn this year and the Surface 8 Pro three months later, it leaves the option for the Windows 8 and the Surface RT to launch in September and the flagship Windows Surface 8 Pro tablet to launch in December, just in time for the holiday season consumer shopping spree. It certainly makes sense to us.

Microsoft Surface RT/ 8 Pro Specs

  Surface RT Surface 8 Pro
Weight: 676g 903g
Size: 9.3 mm 13.5 mm
Screen: 10.6” ClearType HD Display 10.6” ClearType Full HD Display
Processor: nVidia-made ARM chip Intel Core i5 - Ivy Bridge
Battery: 31.5 Wh 42 Wh
Connectivity: microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD Video, 2x2 MIMO antennae microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort Video, 2x2 MIMO antennae
Attributes: Office Home & Student 2013 RT, Touch Cover, Type Cover Touch Cover, Type Cover, Pen with Palm Block
Design VaporMg Case & Stand VaporMg Case & Stand
Storage: 32 GB, 64 GB 64 GB, 128 GB

 Microsoft Surface: Smart Covers

Our colleague, Melissa J Perenson, over at PC World magazine in the US managed to get some hands-on time with the Surface tablets and said this about the Surface tablet's smart covers: The Type Cover and Touch Cover are evolved beyond the keyboard docks on tablets like Asus' Transformer series. There, the dock is a physical component that turns the tablet into a netbook-like clamshell. The keyboard in Microsoft's innovative "smart" covers is the tablet keyboard you've always dreamed of: versatile, lightweight, functional, and a true aid to your productivity.

The Type Cover has mechanical keys and a multitouch clickpad. My touch-typist fingers flew over the keys as efficiently as if I were typing on my laptop. The Touch Cover comes in bright and cheerful colours as well as the more staid black, and has flat, pressure-sensitive keys that can detect when you're typing; if you flip the cover around to the back, the built-in accelerometer can sense this and will turn off the keyboard (nifty trick). I couldn't try a Touch Cover hooked up to a unit, but I'll be interested to see how it performs when it comes out. Both options turned the Surface tablet into an efficient and compact device.

Microsoft Tablet release date