Windows RT tablet could be a Christmas winner
After months of speculation Microsoft has finally announced the pricing for Surface, its own-brand line of Windows RT tablets, and as expected it's priced aggressively to compete with the Apple iPad.
The 32GB Surface with a touch keyboard cover matches the price of a 32GB iPad 3 - the same goes for the 64GB model. A 32GB Surface without the cover will be available for £399 - the same price as a 16GB new iPad.
This price matching is critically important if the Surface is going to sway potential iPad buyers, but it's no guarantee of success. Although many Android tablets are cheaper than iPad, or are at least priced the same, only the substantially cheaper and smaller Asus Nexus 7 has gained any real popularity.
This is no doubt due to the paucity of proper Android tablet apps, as well as the rough and ready nature of the Android tablet interface. The Surface will face similar problems. Since it runs Windows RT which won't work with existing Windows programs, users will be dependent on Microsoft's currently threadbare app store for new software. We also our concerns about the usability of Windows 8 touchscreen interface.
The Surface does have two critical advantages though - an included touchsensitive keyboard cover (a cover with actual mechanical keys is available for an extra £100) and a bundled preview version of Microsoft Office 2013. If these are up to scratch, then the Surface could be not just a compelling alternative to the iPad, but also to ultrabooks and Android laptop-tablet hybrids like the Asus Transformer.
Microsoft may have fumbled with Zune, Windows Phone 7 and potentially Windows 8 on traditional laptops and desktop PCs, but it could be onto a winner with Windows RT and Surface.
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