Introducing the Microsoft Surface
Windows tablets, also known as tablet PCs, are tablet computers that run the Windows operating systems, which are owned, developed, and marketed by Microsoft. However, Microsoft does not own or develop all the different tablets that run the Windows operating system; these are manufactured by multiple companies. It wasn't until 2012 when Microsoft developed and released its own tablet (hardware and operating system). The Windows operating systems that run on Windows tablets are similar to and sometimes even exact replicas of those present on desktop computers and laptops.
In 2001, Microsoft defined Tablet PCs as being "pen-based, fully functional x86 PCs with handwriting and voice recognition functionality". In 2002, the first versions of Windows for tablets were released. The operating system was designed as a Tablet PC version of Windows XP. The main difference between the desktop and tablet version of Windows XP was that the former did not support pen computing. Following the Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, Microsoft designed successive desktop operating systems to support pen computing intrinsically, coined "Windows for Pen Computing", so that tablets would run similar Windows operating systems to desktops and laptops. One such edition that supported pen computing was Windows 7 for desktops and Windows 7 Tablet PC. Today, the main difference between a Windows-based laptop and a Windows tablet is the latter gets the added functionality of a touchs creen, handwriting recognition, and support for gestures.
In 2012, Microsoft opted for lighter operating systems on both tablets and PCs by moving to ARM architecture (an instruction set of architectures based on reducing the number of steps a processor has to work through to get from one point to another for any operation, thereby increasing efficiency). This resulted in lighter operating systems that are better-suited for tablets. This ARM architecture is present in Microsoft's Surface running Windows RT, released in 2012.
The Surface is Microsoft's first tablet, and it is designed around Windows 8. It comes in two versions: Windows RT and Windows 8 Pro. The main difference between the two is that the Windows RT model has an ARM processor and it does not support legacy apps. On the other hand, the Surface with Windows 8 Pro runs the full desktop version of the operating system, and thereby has the ability to run legacy apps. Both versions of the Surface tablet feature a Touch Cover, a thin screen cover that also acts as a keyboard, a 10.6-inch screen, ClearType HD display technology, and Gorilla Glass (scratch and crack-resistant glass).