Microsoft unveiled its Surface Tablet at an event in Los Angeles today. As Microsoft attempted to demonstrate, it follows a long line of Microsoft hardware achievements including the Microsoft Mouse, Microsoft Keyboard, and more recently the XBox (we must have missed the Zune, Courier, and Kin slides). The Surface has some notable features including a full-sized USB port, kickstand, and a 9.3-mm thickness. It runs on an ARM processor, and it is housed in a magnesium alloy case.

Probably the biggest feature is its 3 mm thick Touch Cover. Added to the iPad 2-ish 9.3-mm thickness, you get a “full package” of just 12.3-mm total. The ability to touch type on a 3 mm thick piece of plastic compared to, say, an 8 mm thick UltraThin Logitech iPad keyboard case, for instance, will be a big determining factor for this thing to take off.

While it would not be a Microsoft demo without a few crashes, Microsoft Vice President Steven Sinofsky was eventually able to launch apps like MS Office, Adobe Lightroom, and Netflix on a backup demo model. The Surface will come in 32GB and 64GB ARM RT varieties and separately with Intel processors.

Forrester’s Sarah Rotman Epps noted:

Microsoft will be its own worst enemy in this market. More so than Apple or Google, the worst thing that could happen to Microsoft’s Windows RT tablet is Windows 8 on x86. Selling x86-based tablets in the same retail channels as Windows RT tablets will confuse consumers and sow discontent if consumers buy x86 and think they’re getting something like the iPad. Microsoft and its partners need to articulate a compelling strategy for how they will manage consumer expectations in the channel. Consumers aren’t used to thinking about chipsets. Choice is a key tenet of Windows, but too much choice is overwhelming for consumers. Apple gets this, and limits iPad options to connectivity, storage, and black…or white.

Should the iPad be worried?

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