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At a small event at its Redmond headquarters on Monday, Microsoft at last announced pricing and availability for the highly anticipated Surface for Windows RT tablet — the 32GB base model will cost $499, or $599 with a Touch Cover. But, more interestingly, Microsoft offered a look into its thought process. It took reporters behind the scenes, into the top-secret facility where the Surface was imagined and developed. The company showed off the CNC mills and 3-D printers where it fast-prototyped builds, and handed around early reference designs made from plastic and even cardboard. It described how the Surface was inspired by the Moleskine notebook, and why it decided to opt out of the high-density-display arms race......The tablet runs a stripped-down version of Windows 8, Microsoft’s next-generation operating system, without the desktop. But it is the same operating system, and although it lacks that traditional desktop experience, this is clearly Windows, and many of the apps that are core to that experience — Mail, Internet Explorer, People, the Windows Store — run natively. It is given to gestures and sports a remarkably touch-friendly screen. But it also has a USB port and a cover that doubles as a keyboard; it works with a wide range of other devices, like printers and external hard drives; and it will even charge up your phone. It other words, is not just a bigger phone. It is truly in between. Sinofsky drove this point home with a particularly effective point.