Surface, Microsoft's Windows RT/8 tablet, made a brief appearance on the Microsoft Store today. Before it was pulled, the online product listing revealed one of the biggest secrets surrounding the device since the company first announced it back in June -- its price.
Initially, Microsoft is taking preorders on Surface tablets that run Windows RT, the version of Windows 8 that works on ARM-based processors. The vast majority of smartphones and tablets -- including hot-selling devices iPhone, iPad and Galaxy Tab -- use ARM's low power microarchitecture.
A Windows 8 version of the tablet with an x86 Intel processor is set to debut in the months following the new operating system's launch later this month.
Despite rumblings that Microsoft would undercut Apple's market-leading iPad in an effort to disrupt the competitive device category, the company decided to keep prices in line with its chief rival. Instead, Microsoft is hoping to lure tablet shoppers by providing a significant boost in built-in storage capacity and bundles that feature the company's slick Touch Cover, a screen cover and keyboard/touchpad combo.
Prices start at $499 for a 32 GB Surface tablet, the same as the least expensive, current generation iPad (16 GB, Wi-Fi). Prices climb to $599 for a 32 GB model with a black Touch Cover. The 64 GB Surface sells for $699 with a black Touch Cover.
Bought individually, the Surface Touch Cover costs $119.99 and is offered in additional colors including white, blue, red and pink. The Surface Type Cover, featuring mechanical keys and a touchpad, sells for $129.99 (black only).
Will IT buyers bite? Microsoft is betting that they will.
The company is reportedly manufacturing 3 to 5 million Surface tablets during the fourth quarter, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal, a sign that the software giant expects brisk sales during the holiday season. Plus, the goodwill that Microsoft built among corporate IT managers and developers over the years may also pay off.
According to a research note from ThinkEquity, a financial research and services firm, nearly half of the U.S. IT managers that the company polled are looking forward to a Microsoft mobile ecosystem. Forty-eight percent of the 100 CIOs and technology executives surveyed said that they planned to standardize their mobile IT platforms around Microsoft.