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Microsoft Starts Taking (Expensive) Surface Orders

Own a business? Have $12,500 handy? Get your own Microsoft Surface table-top computer now. On Wednesday, Microsoft posted an order form online for its multitouch computer.
Own a business? Have $12,500 handy? Get your own Microsoft Surface table-top computer now. On Wednesday, Microsoft posted an order form online for its multitouch computer.Customers can get a commercial hardware unit in "metal," black, or white for $12,500. The Surface Developer Hardware Unit, which comes with five software developer kit licenses, costs a mere $2,500 more for a total price of $15,000. Both of those prices are significantly higher than the $5,000 to $10,000 Microsoft predicted when it first announced the product last year.

Service isn't included, and it isn't cheap. Installation service costs $1,500, as does maintenance service and a one-year warranty. And be ready to pay the most expensive shipping bill you've ever paid for a single item. If you want the unit in three to five days, it will cost you $240. Overnight? It will cost $530.

The point of all this is that Microsoft Surface is far from ready to be something that you get in your home. This specialized table-like computer is aimed exclusively at the commercial market and the multitouch technology is much more advanced than what is in, say, the iPhone. That said, there are commercial customers lined up to the point that Microsoft couldn't even keep up with the initial demand, the company has told me. Deployments appear to be behind schedule, with only AT&T and Harrah's having rolled Surface computers out so far.

But just wait a while. Microsoft and others are working on much cheaper touch technology that will be in Windows 7 and possibly Windows Mobile 7 as well. Whether it will come too late or be too little to knock the socks off iPhone enthusiasts remains to be seen.