Rumor: Microsoft Surface tablets to cost $599, $799

On Tuesday, Microsoft stated that its Surface tablet for Windows RT will be priced in line with "comparable" ARM tablets. It also said the Windows 8 Pro model would be competitive with "Intel Ultrabook-class" systems. Sadly, the company stopped short of announcing actual prices.

Now, as you'd expect, the rumor mill is trying to fill the blanks. According to DigiTimes, "sources from notebook players" estimate that the Surface for Windows RT tablet will sell above $599, and its Ivy Bridge-toting big brother will cost more than $799. It's not clear if those prices include the Touch Cover, Type Cover, or other accessories, but they're pretty high by current tablet standards.

At $599, the ARM-powered Surface would cost $100 more than Apple's new iPad, and it would cost $63 more than Asus' 32GB Transformer Pad 300 with the matching keyboard dock. $799, meanwhile, is indeed ultrabook pricing, but not quite at the bottom end of that spectrum; it's also exactly what HP charged for its Slate 500 tablet almost two years ago. That device was also targeted at business users, but it featured a slower Atom processor and ran Windows 7.

I really hope DigiTimes' sources are wrong. If Microsoft hopes to encroach on territory held by iOS and Android, it's going to need more than a couple of premium tablets to do it. A $500 honest-to-goodness iPad killer would be a nice start—and a slight discount wouldn't hurt, if it could sway users from the myriad of iOS apps and the Apple tablet's gorgeous Retina display.

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