As one could imagine, Microsoft faced a number of key challenges during the development of the Surface tablet. According to Surface team leader Panos Panay, Redmond set out with two distinct goals in mind: having the slate ready to ship when Windows 8 launched in October 2012 and keeping the project a secret until Microsoft was ready to unveil it.

Microsoft has made it clear in the past that they wanted to create a device that would encourage partners to build great tablets instead of alienating them. It's still up for debate as to whether or not they were successful as multiple OEM partners have expressed concern with the decision

With regards to actual design, Panay said Microsoft toyed around with several designs including some with rounded edges and a curved back. Ultimately, however, the team elected to go with a flat back and angled edges as they believe this would give users the impression that they are less likely to drop the tablet.

Microsoft also had to figure out how to protect the device's display. A removable keyboard cover was a solid choice and after many revisions, the team decided on the Touch Cover and the Type Cover that are sold today. Interestingly enough, each cover was designed by different people, Panay said. It's worth pointing out that future revisions will be available in a greater variety of colors.

Looking towards the future, Panay said teams are working on future generations of Surface. Team members are reportedly working at full speed and love what they are building and seeing thus far.