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Australia sees Microsoft s first tablet
Australia sees Microsoft's first tablet

Australia has caught a glimpse of Surface, Microsoft's first-ever tablet, and the latest reincarnation of its flagship Windows operating system.

The tech giant officially unveiled Windows 8, Surface and a host of other hardware options in Sydney on Friday, following its global launch overnight.

Touted as a re-imagined version of Windows, the system went on sale online and at some retail stores at midnight on Friday in Australia - one of 140 markets worldwide.

Three different versions will be pre-loaded or available for download on 200 devices, including Windows RT, which is specifically designed for tablets like Surface.

"This is the most stunning array of form factors and devices ever in history," Microsoft Australia's Tina Flammer told AAP. "The boundaries between work and home have all but disappeared.

"With Windows 8, you don't have to choose between the fun and the convenience of a tablet or power of a PC. "Consumers want choice, people in enterprise want choice, and Windows 8 gives you that."

The launch marks a new offensive for the US company, as part of a strategy to keep pace with rivals Apple and Google. But Microsoft's entry into the crowded tablet market has already faced early criticism.

The 10.6-inch Surface is only available for purchase online and those who want to try before they buy will need to visit one of six temporary experience zones across Australia.

Until Christmas, Surface - along with other Windows-powered devices - will be on display at two Westfield shopping centres each in Sydney, Victoria and Queensland. Ms Flammer said more pop-up stores would be considered down the track, but she would not say whether Microsoft's limited release was a way of testing the waters.

"We're in the early days. We're one week old now here in Australia,"