Date: June 18

The 18th of June was one of the most important days in Microsoft's history. At a low-key (for Microsoft) press event, it introduced one of the best products to ever bear its name: a 9mm thick, 1.5-pound tablet computer that runs Windows 8, and comes with a case that doubles as a full QWERTY keyboard. But that's not what made the day so important. It's the fact that the tablet was made in house by Microsoft. Not Asus or HP or Dell. The true value of that day can be seen in the implications the Surface tablet represents. For the first time in its history, Microsoft has pitted itself in direct competition with the hardware companies it relied on to push its software. It also signified, at least symbolically, that Apple had the right idea all along: If possible, a company should build the software and hardware.