Microsoft unveils Surface tablet computer in mainland China

Software giant goes head-to-head with Apple's iPad in mainland market

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 October, 2012, 4:01am

The software giant Microsoft unveiled its new tablet computer Surface in Shanghai yesterday, aiming to compete against Apple's iPad in the mainland market.

Surface, which will hit the mainland market on Friday, will be sold at a price from 3,688 yuan (HK$4,570) for a 32-gigabyte version.

Microsoft will also launch Windows 8 on the mainland the same day.

Another 32GB version with a black touch cover - a thin cover that doubles as a keyboard and attaches to the tablet magnetically - will be offered at 4,488 yuan. The prices are nearly the same as the new iPad.

Microsoft still dominates the personal computer software market but lags behind Apple in new devices as millions of mainlanders are hooked on iPad.

"Even though it's bigger than an iPad, it's actually lighter in your hand because of the way the physics of the design work," said Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows division. "We wanted to make sure that Surface is a form of Windows."

Windows and Office software are pre-installed in Surface.

Ralph Haupter, Microsoft's chief executive for China operations, said the mainland offers the software giant a big business opportunity to develop and sell new devices.

Microsoft has about 50 partners, including Lenovo, the world's largest supplier of personal computers, to develop devices using the Windows operating system.

Haupter said the partnership with the manufacturers "is only the start".

Unlike the iPad, the Surface tablet has a full-size USB port and a built-in stand.

Windows now has about one billion users around the world and Sinofsky said it was aiming for the next billion with the launch of the newest versions of the software and devices.