Microsoft's self-branded Windows 8 tablet comes in at a price that makes it competitive with offerings from rivals--and partners.
Microsoft Surface Tablet: 10 Coolest Features
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Microsoft's entry price for its Surface tablet will match that of the new iPad, according to information that made its way to the Internet early Tuesday. To the possible chagrin of Microsoft's PC-building partners, it also rivals their prices.
The basic, 32-GB version of Redmond's self-branded tablet checks in at $499, the same as the 16-GB, Wi-Fi-only version of the new iPad. For an additional $100, buyers can get the 16-GB Surface with a cover that doubles as a typing pad. The 64-GB model, in which the cover is included, will sell for $699.
The pricing information appeared briefly on a number of online sources Tuesday, and then vanished just as quickly. It's an indication that the sources jumped the gun on non-disclosure agreements with Microsoft. A story on Time's Techland section contained the pricing data, but was pulled offline. The story cited a confidential meeting that Microsoft held Sunday at its headquarters in Redmond, Wash.
Even Microsoft's own online store showed that the Surface was available for pre-order, but that page was also yanked. Full technical specifications for the Surface were not immediately available, but the models for which details were leaked Tuesday appeared to run Windows RT, a version of Windows 8 that is not compatible with applications written for previous versions of Windows.
Regardless, it appears that the Surface will hit stores on Oct. 26 at the above prices. That could make it competitive with the iPad, but the pricing could also rankle some of Microsoft's partners. Acer last week introduced a Windows 8 tablet that also will sell for $499 for the basic, 32-GB model.
The Acer Iconia W510 features a 10.1-inch HD screen that uses Corning's Gorilla Glass 2, dual cameras, a multitude of peripheral ports, and Intel's new Atom Z2760 "Clover Trail" processor, which the chipmaker designed with Windows 8 tablets in mind.
A higher-end version of the W510 is priced at $749. It comes with 64 GB of storage and a keyboard dock, which is optional on the less expensive model. Acer said it expects the Iconia W510 to hit U.S. stores on Nov. 9--a full two weeks after Windows 8's formal launch.
Acer, for its part, has criticized Microsoft for its decision to build Surface, which effectively puts it into competition with its OEMs.
Consumers who want to get their hands on Windows 8 prior to October 26 can download the Release Preview from Microsoft's website.