October 16, 2012

Microsoft Reveals Price For Its Soon-To-Surface Tablet

Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

Just ten days away from the release of Windows 8, Microsoft has finally answered the 4-month old question on everyone´s lips: “How much will the Surface tablet cost and when will it ship?”

Microsoft announced the tablet in an awkward and hasty event held in June, but never announced an official price or availability date. Members of the press who were present at the event weren´t even allowed to touch the device, instead only being allowed to fondle the attachable keyboards. Now, just days after the unveiling of their first commercial for the Surface, Microsoft has made it official: The Surface will debut at an iPad-competitive $499.

What´s more, the Redmond company is even taking pre-orders starting today at 9AM PST for an October 26th shipment.

“We´re pretty darn excited about the price, the value,” said Windows executive Steven Sinofsky on Monday morning.

To begin with, the Surface with Windows RT (or Windows “Lite” which runs on an ARM chip) will be available in 3 different configurations:

*For $499, customers can buy a Surface with 32GB of storage.

*For only $100 more, these customers can also tack on one of those black “Touch Covers,” which incorporates a multi-touch keyboard and trackpad in a Smart Cover-esque form factor.

*For $699, customers can pick up a 64 GB version of the Surface with the Touch Cover already bundled. These Windows RT versions of the Surface will ship with previews of Office 2012 Home and Student Edition.

According to The Loop, these preview versions will be upgradeable to the full version once it ships.

“When you think about everything you are getting, this is a terrific deal,” said Sinofsky during the Tuesday announcement.

In the beginning, the Surface will only be available through Microsoft´s Web site and their branded retail stores, both permanent and temporary. Once Windows 8 is available in October 26th, Surface will be available elsewhere.

During Tuesday´s announcement, Sinofsky gave a handful of reporters a chance to take a peek behind the scenes, showing off where the tablet was created as well as top-secret areas of the building where only few Microsoft employees were privileged enough to venture. It´s likely Microsoft performed such a press stunt to meet, head on, earlier criticisms that members of the tech press weren´t allowed to touch or test the device when they announced it in June.

Microsoft also unveiled their first commercial for the Surface on Sunday night during “Dancing With the Stars,” “Revolution,” and “Major Crimes.” The commercials (cleverly launched just days before Apple sent out press invites to their latest event) don´t show off any functionality of the Surface, save the operation of the kickstand and the click with which the Touch Cover is installed.

Many had wondered if Microsoft would be able to meet or compete with Apple´s iPad pricing. At $499, the 32GB Surface actually beats the entry model iPad in terms of size, as a new 16 GB iPad starts at $499. Even the $699 Surface is a slightly better deal than the iPad of the same size, as the Surface comes bundled with the Touch Cover.

Apple will hold an event on October 23rd wherein they are expected to release a new iPad Mini and maybe even new, updated versions of their larger tablet as well.