Prior to the presentation in Los Angeles, speculation was that Microsoft intended to use its link-up with retailer and Nook device maker Barnes & Noble to launch a new tablet.
That proved to be incorrect, but Microsoft still gave its technology industry rivals something to chew on with an impressive new range of own-branded tablet devices.
The range has been praised for its specifications, but many analysts have also warned that Microsoft's partners, such as Nokia, Acer and Dell, could be "unhappy" at the software maker's shift into hardware.
As the upcoming Windows 8 is fully optimised for touchscreen devices via the Metro interface, Microsoft clearly views interactive screen technology as the way forward for PCs.
There will be two Surface models available, one running Windows 8 Pro and fitted with an Intel x86 processor, while the other will run Windows RT and come with an ARM-based chipset.
The Pro model will have more power and a slightly higher resolution screen than the RT version, but a slightly bigger body.
The Windows RT model weighs 676g and is 9.3mm thick, compared to 930g and 13.55mm for the Pro. Both tablets are fitted with 10.6-inch 16:9 ClearType HD displays.
It supports microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort Video, and 2x2 MIMO antennae, along with a stylus pen accessory.
Using a "digital ink" system, the screen of the tablet ignores touch input when the pen is close to the display, and samples the ink at 600dpi (dots per inch).
The Windows RT version has a smaller, 31.5W-h model battery, and up to 64GB of storage. The processor has not yet been confirmed, but it is expected to the the Tegra 3.
While the core specifications and dimensions differ slightly between the two tablets, they both come with twin cameras, stereo speakers and dual microphones turned for the Microsoft-owned Skype.
Official cases for the tablet are made of VaporMg, a magnesium alloy that's light but strong, which can be attached using built-in magnets.
The casings double as keyboards and trackpads, while an integrated kickstand props the device at a viewing angle for watching video.
Both Surface tablets will also feature Xbox integration and have Microsoft's new SmartGlass feature, creating greater integration of content across multiple screens.
Microsoft has said that the Windows RT Surface will be released in the autumn alongside Windows 8, with the Surface Pro shipping shortly after.
The Surface makes sense for Microsoft in terms of matching Apple's overall control of the hardware and software ecosystem with the iPad, but it also presents the firm with a problem.
Microsoft has always previously avoided making its own computers, instead generating huge revenues from licensing Windows and Office to other manufacturers.
It has been busy encouraging firms, such as Dell and Acer, to develop tablets running Windows 8 and Windows RT, but will now offer competitor products.
However, she also feels that other hardware makers could be aggrieved by the move.
"Microsoft can offer a competitive price for these specifications as it doesn't need to pay itself a licence for the Windows 8 software which other manufacturers will have to do, and that might make its PC and tablet-making partners unhappy," she told the BBC.
Milanesi said that Microsoft would most likely target the higher end of the tablet space, going "head-to-head" with Apple's iPad, while also allowing other manufacturers to "fight" it out over the lower end tablet space.
But with Intel and ARM-based Surface tablets available, research firm Forrester warned that customers could soon become confused by the options in the range.
In a blog post, Forrester's Sarah Rotman Epps said that Microsoft will be "its own worst enemy" in the tablet space.
"More so than Apple or Google, the worst thing that could happen to Microsoft's Windows RT tablets [with ARM chips] is Windows 8 on [Intel's] x86m," she wrote.
"Selling x86-based tablets in the same retail channels as Windows RT tablets will confuse consumers and sow discontent if consumers buy x86 and think they're getting something like the iPad.
"Microsoft and its partners need to articulate a compelling strategy for how they will manage consumer expectations in the channel.
"Consumers aren't used to thinking about chipsets. Choice is a key tenet of Windows, but too much choice is overwhelming for consumers. Apple gets this, and limits iPad options to connectivity, storage, and black… or white."