Microsoft unveils table computer

Microsoft has unveiled a new touch-sensitive coffee table-shaped computer called "Surface".

Designed to do away with the need for a traditional mouse and keyboard, users can instead use their fingers to operate the computer.

Also designed to interact with mobile phones placed on the surface, Microsoft says it will initially sell the unit to corporate customers.

These will include hotels, casinos, phone stores and restaurants.

'Multi-touch'
So-called "multi-touch" interfaces - which allow the user to "gesture" with several fingers at once to manipulate data, rather than relying on a mouse and menus - have been making waves in tech circles for some time.

One of the most hotly-awaited examples is Apple's iPhone, which is scheduled to be released in June.

Hewlett-Packard has also been looking at expanding multi-touch technology, in addition to leading research scientists such as Jeff Han of New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences.

With a 30-inch screen, Surface will initially sell for between $5,000 and $10,000 (2,525-5,050).

However, Microsoft said it aimed to produce cheaper versions for homes within three to five years.

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