Tablets have always been a hybrid hovering somewhere between a smartphone and a laptop, best used for game playing, Web surfing and media consumption. Microsoft wants the Surface to be something you can actually do some work on.
The Windows Pro model will run on an i5 Intel processor and come with up to 128 gigabytes of internal memory (the iPad currently goes up to 64).
Both versions of the Surface come with two USB ports (2.0 on the RT and a faster 3.0 on the Windows Pro). The lack of ports has been one of the few persistent complaints about the iPad.
These ports open up the possibility of extra storage, printing and other external capabilities that should be easier and quicker than the workarounds iPad users need involving cloud storage, Wi-Fi connections and the like.
The Xbox SmartGlass feature, which Microsoft rolled out at this month's E3 video gaming expo, will work with the iPad and Android tablets.
But it's not hard to envision Microsoft optimizing the technology for its own piece of hardware.
The system looks to make the Xbox a central device in the living room -- one that may or may not be even used for video games.
It will connect a smartphone or tablet with the Xbox, which in turn will be connected with the television. By connecting the devices, users can watch a movie on their television while getting bonus material on their tablet. They could also start enjoying a game or movie on the tablet, then transfer it to a TV -- or vice versa.
If the feature is front and center on the Surface, it will be one more step in Microsoft's push to bring all of a user's devices together within the flexible Windows 8 system.