For as long as most of us can remember, Microsoft’s PC has been the undoubted leader in desktop computers (yes, there were those early years when it was all Apple, but it so reveals your age if you admit remembering those days). In the past decade, Microsoft has owned 90% of the desktop market while Apple has laid claim to a mere 6%.

The story is quite different, however, when we talk about mobile computing devices, where Apple’s iPad is now undoubtedly the team to beat. In fact, in my humble opinion, it’s all just a race for second place these days. The iPad has a firm grip on the top slot, and to this day, Microsoft has been nowhere to be found.

If this trend continued, Microsoft would be facing a problem very soon, because the mobile device users are expected to overtake the number of desktop users by 2014.

Microsoft knows this. So before that fateful day comes, Microsoft has decided to get up off backside, stop resting on its laurels, and finally create its own tablet. The result: the Microsoft Surface, a Windows-powered touchscreen tablet that features a built-in fold-back cover that also has its own hardware keyboard.

The Surface runs on either Windows 8 or Windows RT. It has a 10.6-inch HD display screen plus front- and rear-facing HD cameras and ports for USB 2.0 and microSD. The screen size means this tablet will give us more viewing space than either the iPad or the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2.

The 3 mm keypad cover comes in a variety of colors reminiscent of Sony Vaio’s hues. While the hardware keyboard offers greater typing ease than a touchscreen keyboard, it won’t replace the standard netbook keyboard, as it offers no tactile feedback.

The back of the tablet features a well-integrated stand that folds up neatly and flat against the tablet when not in use.

As far as appearances are concerned, the Surface looks like it could give Apple and Google a run for their money in the tablet race. Microsoft, however, has deferred revealing a few crucial details that will help us gauge better whether this new tablet is something worth watching. For instance, there is the question of price.

At this point, if the Surface is just a little better than the iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab, I personally won’t be lining up to buy it unless its price compels me to think again, mainly because I love my Apple and Android apps, and I’m not all that sure yet what apps will be available for this Windows OS tablet – and really, what’s a tablet if not for its apps?

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