Apple products were the only items taken when thieves targeted Microsoft's research and development centre in California. 

Microsoft's reputation as the "less cool" rival to Apple appears to have been reinforced, after thieves raided its Silicon Valley offices – but only stole a collection of iPads.

The thieves made away with five iPads worth more than $3,000 (£1,865) from Microsoft's research and development centre in Mountain View, California, over Christmas.

Microsoft's flagship collection of smartphones and tablet computers remained untouched in the raid, according to Mountain View police who spoke to The Register.

Red-faced Microsoft employees were presumably relieved to find their own company's gadgets had been overlooked when they returned to work after the Christmas holidays – but immediately reported the iPad thefts to police.

News of the raid came to light after a Palo Alto Daily Post story on 4 January, headed "Microsoft says somebody stole its Apple iPads". The final line of the story included the intriguing nugget: "No Microsoft products were reported stolen."

The story prompted a flurry of "too good to be true" claims on technology blogs, but was later confirmed by Palo Alto Daily Post reporter Angela Ruggiero who wrote on Twitter: "So to everyone out there asking, yes the story is very real. Thanks for your interest."

The iPads were said to have been taken from an office where Microsoft develops new software for Apple products. No word yet on whether the thieves were only after the unreleased Microsoft apps.

Microsoft had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

© Guardian News and Media 2013