Windows 8(Photo: Microsoft)

Microsoft announced its entry into the tablet marketplace in June, catching the tech world by surprise, with the unveiling of the Surface tablet family at an event in Los Angeles.

Two Surface tablets are planned - one with an ARM processor running Windows NT, and the second featuring a fully powered Intel chip, running Windows 8. The latter will be powerful enough to give Ultrabooks a run for their money (and at a similar price point too), while the former will provide a cheaper option more likely to rival the iPad.

The news generated a huge amount of buzz - but at the time of writing, there are still a lot of unknowns. Pricing hasn't been announced, although it has been confirmed that the ARM version will be released at the same time as Windows 8 in late October.

Plus, the tech world has only been able to get hands on with the Windows NT version of Surface, without a demo of the included attachable keyboards that make it stand out from the tablet crowd. But, all that considered, what did the industry had to say on its first experiences with the new tablet and its chances against the iPad?

For many, the picture looks rosy. Dieter Bohn from technology website The Verge said the Surface tablet felt "incredibly well designed", adding "the design and build of the tablets the company has here feels very polished, with tight, clean lines".

Matt Honan from Gizmodo agreed: "The Windows RT Surface tablet is solid and stunning", he writes. "Attention to detail is positively amazing, and it's so well designed from every angle that it's just a joy to look at... if Microsoft can deliver what it demoed, the iPad finally has a real competitor and Android has a big goddamn problem."

Slashgear's Vincent Nguyen added his praise for the Surfaces Type Cover, an attachable keyboard that doubles as aprotective cover: "This is a unique approach but I must say I like the thought," he wrote. "Whether this will be realistic for daily use is another question for later, but so far seems quite excellent."

CNN's David Goldman praised the Surface's attention to detail: "Some of the Surface's smaller features illustrate just how much thought Microsoft's team put into its design," he writes. "The kickstand leans the Surface back 22 degrees, which Microsoft says is the perfect camera angle for video chatting. The screen tapers back a bit at the edges, giving the Surface an elegant look. And the keyboard function shuts off when the cover is folded back. Smart."

So while the design seems to have got a thumbs up from the industry, what about everything else?

"The crucial question is going to be how Windows RT, the operating system that will run Microsoft's the less expensive ARM-based Surface tablets, stacks up," added CNN's David Goldman, while BGR's Brad Reed believes that, although "intriguing", the Surface alone "won't be enough to help Microsoft compete with the mighty Apple iPad".

As for Microsoft's decision to enter the tablet market, Engadget's Dana Wollman commented that, although she was "impressed, almost sobered by what Microsoft's managed to produce... Microsoft's own OEM partners, everyone from ASUS to Acer to HP, should feel a tinge of defensiveness. If Redmond's mission until now has been to showcase all the possible form factors for Windows 8, it may have just taken a step in the opposite direction by upstaging everybody else."