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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer   (Source: Jim Wilson/The New York Times)
Microsoft executive hints that Surface will be priced similar to the Apple iPad

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer isn't exactly reserved, but he tried to play coy when asked about pricing of his company's upcoming Surface tablet. Still, that didn't stop him from dropping a bit of a hint.  He commented in a new interview with Seattle Times:

We haven't announced pricing. I think we have a very competitive product from the features perspective. ...

I think most people would tell you that the iPad is not a superexpensive device. ... (When) people offer cheaper, they do less. They look less good, they're chintzier, they're cheaper.

If you say to somebody, would you use one of the 7-inch tablets, would somebody ever use a Kindle (Kindle Fire, $199) to do their homework? The answer is no; you never would. It's just not a good enough product. It doesn't mean you might not read a book on it....

If you look at the bulk of the PC market, it would run between, say, probably $300 to about $700 or $800. That's the sweet spot.

The comment not-so-subtly knocks Google Inc.'s (GOOG)/ASUSTek Computer Inc.'s (TPE:2357Nexus 7 and, Inc.'s (AMZNKindle Fire HD, both of which are priced at or below $300 USD, while offering cautious praise for Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) iPad.  This isn't the first time Mr. Ballmer has shown some love for the iPad, which stands in in contrast to his general negativity on all other things Apple.

Mr. Ballmer is careful not to be too bullish on his own offering, commenting, "We'll have to see whether Surface is a success or not because we haven't shipped any yet. But it certainly has the elements of success."

Microsoft Surface
The Microsoft Surface

But he's much less on the fence about Windows 8, the operating system that powers Surface.  Despite Microsoft's contentious decision to unroll the time-honored start menu into a second, more graphically rich touch-compatible screen (formerly known as Metro), Mr. Ballmer is convinced Windows 8 will be a hit.

He comments:

We're trying to really re-imagine the world from the ground up with Windows 8. ... And then people orient their development schedules around Windows 8 and its new properties and attributes.

You know, Windows 8 is going to do great.

I'm not paid to have doubts. (Laughs.) I don't have any. It's a fantastic product. ... It ...brings us into this world of much more mobile computing and more mobile form factors. I think it's going to be hard to tell what's a tablet and what is a PC

We'll have to wait and see whether both products -- Surface and Windows 8 live up to the CEO's hopes.

Source: The Seattle Times

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Cryptic pricing details?
By vignyan on 9/17/2012 12:20:32 PM , Rating: 2
pricing between 300-800 is a sweet spot... I am guessing surface RT is around 300 and surface pro is around 700/800... Although there are strong rumors that RT is going to be $199... And for a good reason - Apps.

I am also guessing when Balmer was talking about homework and other stuff on 7" tablets, he might have been thinking about the pro... I certainly was... So, pro == run all applications... and it is in line with his last statement = less distinction between PC and tablet...

RE: Cryptic pricing details?
By Jeffk464 on 9/17/2012 12:31:49 PM , Rating: 4
Anyone doing homework or other actual productivity is probably a lot better served by a laptop/ultrabook.

RE: Cryptic pricing details?
By NellyFromMA on 9/17/2012 12:56:20 PM , Rating: 5
Explain the difference between ultrabook and Windows 8 Pro tablet?

RE: Cryptic pricing details?
By XZerg on 9/17/2012 2:02:28 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Cryptic pricing details?
By Cypherdude1 on 9/18/2012 5:55:51 PM , Rating: 2
Explain the difference between ultrabook and Windows 8 Pro tablet?

Ultrabook is a new marketing name for a glorified laptop. It is typically thinner than a laptop. It usually has a faster CPU and probably an SSD. Functionally, there is no difference between an Ultrabook and a fast laptop. The Win8 tablet is simply a tablet with Win8.

Microsoft should have placed 4 speakers on the back of their Surface for better sound. The "Lenovo Idea Tablet S2109 9.7-Inch 16 GB Tablet" has this feature. All high-end tablets should have this feature for better movie playability:

With laptops, you can flip them over and open the back to upgrade it. With the right parts, you can upgrade the RAM, CPU, and convert the HDD to SDD. I hope you can do this with the Surface tablet. I hope Microsoft didn't do anything stupid such as prevent users from upgrading the Surface's components. When I purchase a tablet, I want to use Windows. I also want to be able to upgrade the storage to a "Crucial m4 256GB mSATA Solid State Drive CT256M4SSD3":

With a fast tablet, USB 3.0, micro-HDMI, Win8, 256 GB mSATA SSD, detachable keyboard, and Wi-Fi, there is virtually no difference between a laptop and a tablet.

RE: Cryptic pricing details?
By menting on 9/17/2012 5:08:44 PM , Rating: 2
without know how the Surface Pro will be exactly, I'm going to say upgradeability? Most ultrabooks still enable you to add more memory and put in a hard drive without much trouble. Not sure if the Surface Pro will be able to do that.

RE: Cryptic pricing details?
By Jeffk464 on 9/18/2012 12:52:58 AM , Rating: 2
A little bit bigger screen and a "real" keyboard.

RE: Cryptic pricing details?
By NellyFromMA on 9/18/2012 11:52:55 AM , Rating: 2
Surface Pro runs Win 8 Pro. It will support DVI/HDMI out and external peripherals.

RE: Cryptic pricing details?
By GotThumbs on 9/18/2012 8:31:57 AM , Rating: 2
With our without the keyboard and mouse?

A docking station of some kind would go a long way in making this a truly Swiss Army Knife tech tool......It's a tablet, its an ultra book with touch pad and additional ports and added power when needed.

The ASUS Transformer was a good concept (IMO)....just add MS OS and productivity software and you will have something that could be a real viable replacement for owning a PC.

Looking forward to the release and subsequent reviews.

Best wishes,

RE: Cryptic pricing details?
By theapparition on 9/17/2012 3:48:22 PM , Rating: 2
Depends on the age.

Right now, I can easily see much of my younger children's homework being done on a tablet.

Older children with larger content creation duties would better be served by a full sized keyboard and mouse though.

RE: Cryptic pricing details?
By Roffles on 9/17/2012 4:04:00 PM , Rating: 5

I hope you realize the Surface Pro is revolutionary because it combines the touchscreen productivity, thinness, lightness and portability of a tablet with the computing power of a notebook and wraps up all up into the form factor of an ultrabook with its detachable keyboard and next generation operating systems that will run all your productivity apps. It's a three-in-one. One computer to rule them all!


RE: Cryptic pricing details?
By superPC on 9/17/2012 5:08:44 PM , Rating: 2
it is not a big deal because basically all x86 windows 8 tablet will have the same capability. some of them have docks with extra battery or discrete graphic, but ALL of them will work with a USB mouse and keyboard. how is that different to surface pro? I imagine if windows 8 tablet really took off than accessories maker will have a field day creating docks and detachable keyboard.

RE: Cryptic pricing details?
By Jeffk464 on 9/18/2012 12:54:18 AM , Rating: 2
Its a compromise keyboard.

RE: Cryptic pricing details?
By Jeffk464 on 9/17/2012 12:32:34 PM , Rating: 4
Can't we keep the microphones away from the clown?

RE: Cryptic pricing details?
By jvillaro on 9/17/2012 12:39:28 PM , Rating: 2
when Balmer was talking about homework and other stuff on 7" tablets, he might have been thinking about the pro

Why? With the RT already including office, with it's keyboard I don't see why it isn't a near perfect low cost "PC" for school.

Agree on Kindle Fire, disagree on Nexus 7
By tayb on 9/17/2012 12:28:27 PM , Rating: 4
I agree with Balmer on the Kindle Fire but not the Nexus 7. The Kindle Fire looked great on paper but in practice it isn't holding up. The app store is gimped, it's sluggish, it's running a ridiculous Android variant, and you have to deal with ads unless you pay $15 to remove them. It's not an all bad product and for the price you really can't expect much more but the Nexus 7 provides a much better experience at the same price point.

I also partially agree with him on the screen size and the idea of "doing homework" on a tablet. The Nexus 7 is way too small to get any actual work done but I don't think it's designed to get work. It's a toy. The larger Android tablets and the iPad are certainly large enough to do actual work but they are gimped by a lack of software to do that work. WinRT surface tablets are positioned pretty well in that regard, given the price is right.

I'm not in the tablet market for a product to do work on. I want a toy to surf the web, watch videos, play games, and read books. If the Microsoft surface can do all that AND provide me with the ability to do work that's a powerful product. I'll believe it when I see it.

RE: Agree on Kindle Fire, disagree on Nexus 7
By Jeffk464 on 9/17/2012 12:40:22 PM , Rating: 2
AND provide me with the ability to do work that's a powerful product. I'll believe it when I see it.

There is no way to get around the small screen and cramped keyboard on these things. Best you will probably be able to say is they will work in a pinch.

By tayb on 9/17/2012 12:53:22 PM , Rating: 3
There is no way to get around the small screen and cramped keyboard on these things. Best you will probably be able to say is they will work in a pinch.

HDMI out and a bluetooth keyboard. Even cooler would be a surface dock that let me plug in a monitor and regular keyboard. I've also typed on the Transformer Prime and it wasn't horrible, not enjoyable but not horrible.

The benefit is the office app. Neither Android nor iOS will ever get that app.

By TakinYourPoints on 9/17/2012 4:01:55 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed, the Fire feels cheap and slow but the Nexus 7 is actually decent.

Also agreed on size, but I understand if some people prefer a 7" tablet to something around 10"

Yeah well
By FITCamaro on 9/17/2012 12:54:39 PM , Rating: 2
The Nexus 7 might not be all aluminum or anything, but I'm quite pleased with the build quality. And I like that the back is kinda like rubber since it makes it not slide all over the place.

RE: Yeah well
By Souka on 9/17/2012 3:43:27 PM , Rating: 1
I have the Nexus 7 also.. I like it for consumption.

It's small enough to fit in my jacket pockets, unlike the iPad 1/2 I've used before, and I carry it around often with my laptop/paper work in the bag.

For network connectivity on the go I do have a 4G LTE Verizon modem in my laptop'll run 12+ hours because of a battery pack.

I'm always on the go with work... my setup works great.
Nexus 7 for reviewing emails and simple tasks.
15" Laptop (wireless or LTE) for getting the job done.

If anyone calls the Nexus 7, or Kindle Fire HD, "cheap"... well I guess they work for Mitt Romney. According to Mitt Romney, "Middle income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less" per year. (Only %4 make more than $200k)


RE: Yeah well
By Motoman on 9/17/2012 5:16:32 PM , Rating: 2
Well, he did say "and less" - so maybe he means anything from $250k to $0 is middle class. But seriously, why would you want to associate with anyone making less than $250k a year anyway? They probably wouldn't even be a Republican!

RE: Yeah well
By Souka on 9/17/2012 7:07:46 PM , Rating: 2
yep, zactly!

Oh....speaking of Mitt... another great quote was in regard to NASCAR drivers.

He was asked if he knew any of the drivers, his response was somethign like "No, but I have friends who are NASCAR team owners."

Again showing that Romney is big $$$$... and big business.

He really scares me.

But hey, back to tablets.

iPad - Win
Nexus 7 - Win
Galaxy Tab - Win
Microsoft Surface - wait and see, but looks good.

Pick something you like and use it... we're all different, with different needs.


Yeah, well...
By CannedTurkey on 9/17/2012 12:20:59 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man.
- the Dude

Personally, I like the 7" form factor better for tablets. They're primarily content consumption, and a 7" tablet is easier to hold in one hand. If I want it for work, then a desktop or laptop is better suited, since access to a DVD drive, a hard drive, full sized keyboard, and larger display are going to be fare more useful to me.
In a pinch though, a bluetooth keyboard isn't going to be any less useful on a 7" tablet than your 10" tablet with keyboard dock.

RE: Yeah, well...
By Jeffk464 on 9/17/2012 12:36:57 PM , Rating: 2
exactly you are better off with an ultrabook if you are going to have only one device. Personally I think a cheap 7" tablet for reading watching books, news, blogs, etc complimented with a laptop for productivity is the way to go. I would hate to do a lot of actual work on any of these hybrid devices.

tablets aren't meant for doing serious work
By zephyrprime on 9/17/2012 5:16:12 PM , Rating: 2
I've had two tablets before and a kindle as well. In my opinion, ballmer is right that the kindle and nexus are chitzier but that's the whole point. Contrary to what Apple may advertise, tablets really aren't any good for getting any work done. There are good for light weight media consumption and reading though. That's their whole raison d'etre. For getting work done, people will turn to their laptops. Making an expensive tablet is stupid because the tablet actually serves very mundane purposes in my opinion.

By Jeffk464 on 9/18/2012 12:57:16 AM , Rating: 2
yes, what he said.

Depends on your needs
By DrApop on 9/17/2012 1:26:06 PM , Rating: 2
His comments are idiotic.

I don't hear him saying the same about any version of windows on a netbook, cheap laptop, ultrabook, or full blown desktop...on a little 10" monitor, 20" monitor, or 27" monitor.

I don't hear him saying the same about having windows on a $400 laptop or desktop vs a $1000-$2000 laptop or desktop with all the bells and whistles.

You buy what your needs dictate in most cases.

By GotThumbs on 9/18/2012 8:26:13 AM , Rating: 2
Even Bill Gates says tablets are not best suited for use in schools. There will not be a replacement for PC's. Tablets are very good for accessing content, but they are just not well suited for productivity use. Unless you have a app for basic data entry, and tablet is still not capable of being a persons only tool. I know of quite a few ipad owners who have been disappointed in the inability to actually do their work using the tablet. Hey, its just an ITouch/Iphone with a bigger screen but can't make calls. Don't get caught up in the marketing con.

Typical marketing banter. Just release the product and consumers will let you know if the Surface does the job.

'Em' Ballmer should kindly STFU
By Gondor on 9/17/2012 12:43:32 PM , Rating: 1

And this guy is complaining about his competition being "cheap" ... sheesh.

Nice Hyperbole
By Reclaimer77 on 9/17/12, Rating: -1
RE: Nice Hyperbole
By retrospooty on 9/17/2012 12:17:26 PM , Rating: 3
I can't grasp why Ballmers opinions on the iPad or the Fire's are at all relevant.

Given a mic. Cook will spout the iPhone/iPad advantages, Page will spout Android and Ballmer will spout Winmobile. What a shocker.

RE: Nice Hyperbole
By andrewaggb on 9/17/2012 12:52:25 PM , Rating: 1
I get frustrated the second I try to do anything remotely resembling work on my ipad. I grab my laptop, wait for it to boot, and use it instead...

Surface rt will come with microsoft word and excel and a keyboard(ish), so you probably could so some homework on it. I'm doubtful you'd want to... But I'm pretty sure it'll be like trying to work on a netbook. Cramped keyboard, small display.... you know, awesome!

I do want to get a surface, if for no other reason than to try it :-). If it sucks I'll just sell it after a month.

RE: Nice Hyperbole
By sviola on 9/17/2012 5:02:31 PM , Rating: 2
Well, with Surface Pro (sporting a core i7), the stylus and keyboard, and I can see a great on the go productivity platform, which is light and has good performance. You can take hand notes using one note, do some coding with your preferred IDE on the desktop and use MS Office for other tasks. You can even do some light image processing stuff.
I know that if I were a college student this would be the perfect piece of tech to accompany me: hand write classes, take all your e-books with you, have all desktop tools available and still being light and with good performance. And it has its place on the corporate world as well.

I think MS has a winner on the tablet market. And I can see OEM's taking good advantage f the platform as well(I read somewhere that Lenovo has a 13 inch tablet on the way sporting a core processor as well and that would be an improvement on screen size).

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