Microsoft's tablet Surfaces -

Software giant Microsoft has finally got its tablet shown off to a bunch of hacks and a nearly secret press conference.

As TechWeek Europe reports, the latest rival to the iPad appears to be quite an original piece of kit, although it looks roughly the same as every other tablet on the market.

But there was a lot at the press conference which was not said, or mimed by chief executive Steve Ballmer, product manager Steven Sinofsky and designer Panos Panoya.

The Triumvirate of Vole did not answer any questions about the tablet which was to have the same name as its interesting table sized product, the Surface.

The Surface tablet is a 10.6-inch-wide, 3.3mm-thin tablet that will run Windows RT and Windows 8 later this year. It weighs 1.5 pounds and is the PC with a magnesium case.

Ballmer insists it will have “the best Wi-Fi available” although he did not say how.

Surface for Windows RT will come in 32GB and 64GB flavours. The plan is to add storage capabilities later.

When it hits the shops. one of the Windows 8 Surface tablets will run on an Intel Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor. There will also be an ARM model.

As you would expect it will be a multitouch device, with a touch screen and two optional keyboards. There will be USB ports and something called a physical vapour deposition finish.

It will ship with its own magnetic cover and an integrated “kickstand” that snaps back into the unit and disappears.

Microsoft said that it will be “a complete PC workstation in the form of a tablet”.

All interesting enough, but Vole said nothing about the price, which it says will be “competitive with ARM tablets or an Intel Ultrabook-class PC”.

It did not say how long the battery would last or what resolution the screen has. These are all hot points when you are trying to compete with the new iPads.

Microsoft did say that the tablet will come out some time this autumn, although it did not give any hints about the OEM.

Sinofsky told the throngs that Surface was a stage for Windows. It was a “tablet that was a great PC - a PC that’s a great tablet”.

What is useful is that the thing comes with a thin keyboard. It correctly claims that many people will always prefer a real keyboard over touch screens. It also has another option which is a thicker keyboard with clickable keys called the Type Cover.

Panay, the chief designer, had several comments about how the Surface came to be the shape and size that it is.

He said that while other tablet makers have gone for seamless lines, Vole had to put in a kickstand to make it useful.

Also he claimed that he spent a long time trying to get the sound right.

He added that it sits in your hand comfortably. You can use it all day in comfort, Panay claimed.

While comments at the press conference were generally favourable, it will take a lot for the Apple Press to get moist about anything that is not fruity. It does seem that Microsoft is going for a lot more power out of its tablet than either Cupertino or Samsung. The question is whether or not a Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor will suck up the lecky like a milkshake or turn your groin into an oven.