Microsoft made one of its biggest announcements in years on Monday. At a secretive press conference in Los Angeles, Steve Ballmer and co. hit the stage to announce the company’s first major hardware development project.

Called the Microsoft Surface, it features a 16:9 aspect ratio and HD resolutions under the Gorilla Glass screen. Judging by some first impressions of the Surface by people who attended the event, the entire case feels very sleek yet sturdy. It’s also very thin and weighs about the same as an iPad.

However, the real show stealer is the new Type Cover/Touch Cover combo. Instead of feature a boring old case like every other tablet, the Surface’s cover turns into a keyboard when you flip it over. Say goodbye to fumbling around on virtual keyboards. With the Surface, that’s a problem of the past.

The Surface will come in two versions. The first version is a Windows 8 RT model. It’s expected to be released around October, which is when Windows 8 will come out. The second Surface version is larger and more powerful and features the full Windows 8 Pro operating system. It will also have a 1080p HD screen (1920x1080px).

When you add in the fact that the Surface comes pre-installed with Microsoft Office, it could be a real home run for Microsoft. Unfortunately, the Surface’s price was not announced at Microsoft’s marquee event, although Ballmer did promise that it would be competitive with similar tablets…whatever that means.

While the Surface is the biggest Microsoft news story in months, it’s not the only announcement that Microsoft has up its sleeve this week. Today in San Francisco, Microsoft’s Windows Phone division has called a conference to discuss what the future has in hold. With Windows Phone 8 on the horizon and multi-core capabilities being promised, Microsoft could make its second big splash of the week today.

The tech wars are heating up. What do you think: is Microsoft’s Surface going to be enough to dethrone the Apple iPad and blow Android out of the water? Let us know in the comments!

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