Price is sure to play a key role in that arena, and Microsoft may be close to slapping a price tag on its Surface tablet. According to Engadget, an inside source said a session was held at the company's recent TechReady15 conference that mapped out all the details surrounding the tablet's launch. This includes the possible pricing for the Surface, and if the details from the meeting hold up to be true, the Surface for Windows RT will be priced at $199 with an Oct. 26 release date.
This is radically different from previous pricing rumors, such as the one in earlier July that said the Surface would cost a staggering $1,003. A Swedish website listed the tablet at this price, and said the higher-end Surface Pro tablet would be even steeper.
A $199 suggested retail price would directly pit it against the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire, which fall into the same range. Surface for Windows RT reportedly features a quad-core Tegra 3 processor similar to the one found in the Nexus 7, but the construction materials found in the tablet are vastly different.
"It would put Windows 8 on the map in a big way and give a lot of people a lot of reason to try out an operating system that is going to feel rather different than previous incarnations," writes Tim Stevens of Engadget.
The Surface could be the device that lures traditional PC users to embrace Windows 8, since the interface and design is catered to mobile products. Microsoft's tablet could especially benefit avid users of Microsoft Office, with the seamless transition of tools and service such as Word, Excel and Power Point. The Surface could potentially become a replacement for notebook and netbook computers, both for students and businesses. Those accustomed to working on the go might find this a more suitable tablet choice than Apple's iPad or the Nexus 7, since it will have compatibility with Microsoft programs.
Rumors about the Microsoft Surface's price isn't the only news surrounding the tablet. Toshiba has confirmed that it will not be manufacturing the ARM-based Surface tablets, according to Mashable.
"We will continue to look into the possibility of Windows RT products in the future while monitoring market conditions," Toshiba spokesman Eric Paulsen said.
Toshiba said its decision was driven by delays in components, which would "make a timely launch impossible."
Hewlett-Packard pulled a similar move near the end of June, when it also declined involvement in the Surface tablet due to component supply issues.
Microsoft has previously expressed concern that the Surface could pose some potential risk for business partners, since the company will be competing with products made by its manufacturing partners.
"Our Surface devices will compete with products made by our OEM partners, which may affect their commitment to our platform," Microsoft said in the 10-K document filed for the second quarter of 2012, according to Computer World.
It is unclear how exactly the Surface will fare against its rivals, but it does seem that Microsoft is coming closer to unveiling a price.