Microsoft Corp. announced a new addition to its Surface line of tablets today with the Surface Pro 3 unveiled during an event in New York.

Billing it as a replacement for a laptop, Microsoft’s newest slab of hardware features a 12-inch screen, an Intel Core processor, upgraded cameras, and can support up to 8 GB of RAM. The chassis is noticeably trimmed down, at 0.36 inches thick and weighing 1.76 lbs. As with past Surface Pro models, it runs the full Windows 8.1. It’s the first update to Surface hardware since last October when Microsoft launched the Surface Pro 2 and Surface RT 2.

The product launch could be seen as a preemptive strike against Apple Inc. Microsoft specifically calls out the MacBook Air in its press release, saying it is 30 per cent thinner than the MacBook Air. Rumours of Apple’s plans to launch a new, 12-inch MacBook that is less expensive than other MacBook models at its upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference in June could also motivate Microsoft to have some new portable hardware on the market.

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The new tablet includes a kickstand that supports more positions compared to previous models, described by Microsoft as providing continuous friction. It also comes with a new stylus, the Surface Pen, an aluminum-finished stylus with a button on the back that’s made to emulate the feel of a fountain pen. Users will even be able to rest their hand on the tablet while they write without affecting what’s on screen.

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The Surface Pro 3 goes on sale in Canada starting June 20 along with some accessories, according to Microsoft. In August, different configurations of the tablet will be available and other accessories will follow in later months. U.S. pricing for the Surface Pro 3 starts at $799, according to Microsoft. When the Surface Pro 2 was launched in Canada last October, pricing started at $899.

What’s not clear at this point is if there will be a Surface RT 3. Microsoft launched its foray into the hardware space with the Surface RT, running Windows RT, a lighter version of its full Windows 8 OS that didn’t run legacy Windows software. But sales on that version of the device were bad enough that Microsoft had to take a $900 million write-down.

Here’s a promotional video Microsoft released today for the Surface Pro 3:

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