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Microsoft’s Surface tablet with Windows 8 available October 26, won’t be $199

By Leigh D. Stark | 10:42 am 17/10/2012

Unlike Apple, Microsoft has never really developed its own computer for consumers to touch and feel, but next week, we’ll see one, and you’ll be able to buy it too.

Microsoft is set to join other manufacturers in releasing the next generation of Windows – now with touch – when it releases its Windows RT-based Surface tablets next Friday.

Previewed earlier this year, the Surface is a 9.3mm thin tablet with a 10.6 inch ClearType HD display, with storage in 32 and 64GB varieties, microSD expansion, USB, cameras, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, magnesium casing, built-in kickstand, and a version of Windows called “Windows RT” that will run Windows 8 apps, but none of the Windows 7 or older ones.

Earlier this year, we heard a rumour of a $199 price for Microsoft’s Windows RT Surface tablet, but that, sadly, looks to be only that: a rumour.

This week, Microsoft has announced the price of $559 for a 32GB model, with a black touch cover bundled in for $679. Want a little more space? That will cost you a touch more, understandably, with the 64GB with black cover grabbing a $789 RRP.

That black cover isn’t just a simple cover, either, including a touch-based keyboard and able to be purchased separately for $139.99 in more than just black – white, magenta, red, and cyan, too – or in a black cover with moving keys for ten bucks more ($149.99).

Looking at the prices, they’re not as good what we had hoped, but we’re always hoping to save a few bucks here and there.

No, Microsoft is looking to hit at Apple’s prices here, and given the Australian iPad price of $649 for a 32GB WiFi or $759 for a 64GB model, they’re not too far off the mark, especially since the Surface models for the similar prices include the keyboard accessory, something that will cost you at least a hundred more for something similar.

Will the pricing work in Microsoft’s favour, though? We’re not sure.

Windows RT is expected to offer a more computer like experience than iOS, given its roots, but this version of Windows will not run older software from XP, Vista, and Windows 7, because it’s made for a different style of chip, the same Nvidia Tegra processors we’ve seen on Android tablets all year, albeit with 2GB RAM instead of the regular one.

As such, the experience is more like a dedicated tablet, more like the iPad because the software you buy is specific to that platform. If you have apps for Windows like Photoshop or games you miss, they have to be ready for Windows 8, otherwise they won’t run. Sure, Microsoft Office will come with the tablet, which is great, but your favourite app may not.

Instead, if you definitely want to run legacy Windows apps, you’ll need to wait for proper Windows 8 machines – not Windows RT-based computers – like the models being released by Samsung, Toshiba, Lenovo, Acer, Asus, and all the other typical computer manufacturers. Microsoft will release one of these later too, a slightly thicker Surface model, but the pricing has yet to be announced.

Still, there could easily be some keen buyers for the first Surface tablet, and if you’re one of them, Australia will be one of the first markets around the world to see Surface on October 26, joining the UK, US, Canada, China, France, Germany, and Hong Kong.

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