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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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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"

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