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Microsoft Competes Against Apple With New Tablet

Microsoft has announced its first tablet computer. The device, called the Surface, is designed to compete directly with the popular Apple iPad. The computer software maker announced its new tablet in June at a media event in Los Angeles. Microsoft will offer two versions of the Surface. Each has a different processor. The Surface for Windows RT runs on an ARM processor. It is less powerful than the Surface for Windows 8 Pro, which uses an Intel processor. The RT is also thinner and weighs less than the Pro. Either tablet weighs no more than about 900 grams. Both have screens that are about 27 centimeters in size. That is a little bigger than the iPad's screen.

Microsoft has not said exactly when the new Surface will appear in stores. But, it is expected to be sometime in September or October. This is about the same time that the company plans to release its new Windows 8 computer operating system.

Brenda Estrella owns a laptop computer. She has been considering switching to a tablet. She says for her the iPad is more of an entertainment device. In her words, "If Microsoft is coming out with a tablet that actually you can type, and actually do different things other than just swipe, then that would be better."

Many technology lovers, including Catherine Clinch, are excited about the new device. She points out that the Surface stands by itself, so you don't have buy a stand. Also, there is a keyboard that can also act as a cover. Those are all wonderful things, she says. But what interests her most is the potential to get rid of the netbook, to get rid of the laptop -- "to maybe even down the line get rid of the full computer." Fox Van Allen is a technology expert. He agrees the Surface seems to have more to offer than the iPad. He says, "It's a device that almost serves as a replacement for a PC." The Surface is meant to compete with the iPad. But not everyone is sure it is a better product. John Ayala says he is glad there is a competitor but he is sticking with his iPad.

For years, Microsoft has made software, not computers. A few earlier attempts by the company to make and sell hardware products failed. That includes the Zune music player. It could not compete against Apple's iPod. Estimates place the value of the tablet computer market at about $79 billion this year. Microsoft hopes to capture a share of that market with its latest device.

For VOA Special English, I'm Mario Ritter.(Adapted from a radio program broadcast 25Jun2012)