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Microsoft Debuts Windows 8, Surface Tablet

Microsoft's new operating system debuted on the Surface, a tablet to rival the iPad

Microsoft debuted its Surface tablet and the new Windows 8 on Thursday at an event in New York, showing off a fully redesigned interface.

Getty ImagesWindows 8, the latest incarnation of Microsoft's long-standard PC operating system, got more than a mere makeover.

The iconic screen, with program icons and a menu bar at the bottom has been replaced by a patchwork of domino-shaped tiles which, unlike applications on Apple computers, immediately begin computing — with fresh Nasdaq numbers on one tab and the latest email updates flashing on another — as soon as the computer is opened.

"With Windows 8, we have brought together the best of all worlds, the PC and the tablet, your work and your life," Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said at the event.

Also read: Microsoft Manufacturing Tablet to Rival Apple iPad, Says Insider (Exclusive)

The Windows 8 launch comes at a key time for Microsoft, which has struggled to keep pace on computers that appeal to the design-savvy consumers scooped up by Apple.

The new interface features a "Desktop" button to revert to the old PC interface, if a user prefers. And the software adapts to the device on which it's viewed, so the same home screen on a laptop is the same as that on a smartphone and tablet.

The Surface, which TheWrap reported exclusively about in June, is competing with Apple's newly revamped iPad and mini iPad by circumventing the touch-screen-only philosophy and offering two optional keyboards. One keyboard has smooth, molded keys — the other keys like a traditional keyboard.

Priced to compete with the full-sized iPad, the Surface starts at $499.