Microsoft Surface TabletThe business media rumor mill can be put to rest. Microsoft made it official today with the unveiling of its Microsoft Surface Windows 8 tablet. Windows president Steve Sinofsky said today at a media gathering in Los Angeles that the specs include a 10.6-inch widescreen display custom-designed for Surface. “Surface works great for entertainment,” Sinofsky said. Will it be successful and a potent challenger to rival Apple’s iPad? It’s a big shift for Microsoft, which has focused on workplace software — the exception being its successful Xbox gaming console. It’s also previously seen failures selling its own branded hardware, i.e., its Zune music players. Microsoft Surface TabletRegardless, the move would be a page-turner for the company and a clear follow in Apple’s footsteps in controlling both hardware and software for its devices. Microsoft has traditionally let its customers — such as Dell and HP — handle design and marketing of its hardware.

(Steve Ballmer photo: Getty Images)