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Microsoft looks ready to offer cheaper Surface tablet

by David Needle

January 25 2013

Microsoft is set to release the Surface Pro, Windows 8 tablet February 9.
Microsoft is set to release the Surface Pro, Windows 8 tablet February 9.

There’s been no formal announcement, but the software giant’s CFO hinted that Microsoft was looking at ways to offer different pricing for the Surface.

In the company’s earnings call yesterday, CFO Peter Klein said Microsoft was "working closely with chip partners and OEMs" [original equipment manufacturers] "to bring the right mix of devices,” which would include “a greater variety of devices at a bigger variety of price points.”

Microsoft’s Surface RT is priced starting at $499, the same as the latest iPad though with more storage (32GB) than Apple’s base model which comes with 16GB. A slew of Android-based competitors are priced lower, though many are in the smaller 7-inch display form factor.

Based on Klein’s remarks, reported by the Christian Science Monitor and elsewhere, it’s hard to know what kind of price break Microsoft might be planning and if it would involve a new version of the ARM-based Surface RT tablet with somewhat diminished hardware features.

Microsoft reportedly sold about a million Surface tablets in the most recent quarter, a number below what analysts were expecting. The company hasn’t confirmed or denied that figure. 

In an interview with CNBC, Microsoft’s legendary chairman and cofounder said “Windows 8 has done well. Surface computer is doing well.”

Microsoft is also planning to release the Intel-based Surface Pro shortly (February 9) priced starting at $899. 

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