NEW YORK:  Microsoft unveiled two new versions of its Surface tablet on Monday, renewing its efforts in mobile computing after the product’s launch a year ago failed to impress consumers.

The Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro have “significant updates, including improvements to processing power and battery life,” Microsoft said at a New York launch event. The changes represent “the revamp we need,” vice president Panos Panay said, as he presented the new tablets to reporters. The launch is Microsoft’s second stab at gaining ground in the growing tablet market.

The Surface, released last year, failed to make a dent in a market dominated by Apple’s iPad and various devices using the Google Android operating system.

Microsoft markets the device, which comes with a kickstand and optional keyboard, as a substitute for a tablet with much of the functionality of a personal laptop computer.  Yet the device failed to get more than a two percent share of the global tablet market, according to analysts.

Panay said the new device includes Microsoft’s revamped Windows 8.1 system, the popular Outlook program and access to ten times as many apps as the previous version. For US customers, the Surface 2 will start at $449 and the Surface Pro 2 at $899.  It will be sold initially in 22 markets, with pre-orders starting Tuesday and sales to be launched October 22.–AFP