In an interview with Seattle Times, Ballmer said that the iPad is “not a super expensive device” and added that significantly cheaper tablets “do less and look less good”.
“Would somebody ever use a Kindle Fire to do their homework? The answer is no; you never would. It’s not just a good enough product,” said Ballmer.
The Microsoft CEO, compared to Oprah Winfrey last week, then gave the biggest hint that the firm's own-brand Surface tablets will start from $300 and go up to $800.
"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 Surface is available in two editions. The standard Surface will run an ARM processor (so it will run the Windows RT OS), offer 32GB of storage and will feature a slimmed down version of Office, while the Intel-powered Surface Pro will promise backwards compatibility with legacy Windows applications, 64GB or 128GB of storage and will include a stylus.
Knowing this and considering Ballmer’s comments, it would be a surprise if Microsoft launched both tablets at $800, which is $30 cheaper than the 64GB iPad. A Lenovo exec recently suggested Windows RT tablets would cost $400 to $500, while one rumor had claimed the Surface RT tablet (running Windows RT) would launch at $199.
The Surface tablet family is due to launch on October 26, the same date as Windows 8 goes on general availability.