Ballmer hints at $300-700 Surface pricing

Remember that rumor about the Surface maybe, possibly launching at $199 later this year? Yeah; not gonna happen. In an interview with the Seattle Times this weekend, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer offered some fresh insight into his company’s pricing strategy. And from the sound of it, the Surface isn’t going to have a bargain-basement price tag.

The Times coaxed an answer out of Ballmer by asking whether the Surface was going to compete with the iPad "on price or on features." Ballmer responded with the following:

A: 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.

I guess that pretty much settles it. No $200 Surface.

Ballmer’s $300-800 ballpark might seem a little broad, but keep in mind there will be two versions of the Surface. The ARM-based variant, which will run Windows RT, is supposed to be priced competitively with similar ARM devices. Microsoft said so back in June. The x86 version of the Surface, meanwhile, will be priced in ultrabook territory—hence the $800 ceiling mentioned by Ballmer.

We’ll find out exact pricing soon enough. The Windows RT version of the Surface is due out on October 26, with the x86 model to follow about 90 days later. (Thanks to Neowin for the link.)

Comments closed
    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]The x86 version of the Surface, meanwhile, will be priced in ultrabook territory[/quote<] I wonder how much Intel's cut is. Their chips obviously cost more than ARM ones.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 7 years ago

    So Ballmer’s just stupid enough to ignore YEARS of proof positive that when given the choice between buying a tablet that’s as good as an iPad or an iPad for the same or higher pricing than said iPad that users’ll choose the iPad every time. Ridiculous to see him make the same mistakes Android makers already have, but totally unsurprising.

    He IS pretty clueless.

    • tootercomputer
    • 7 years ago

    I firmly believe that the i5 Surface will be a must-have item, that its size X features will be very attractive to a lot of people. I believe that Win 8 will shine on it.

    I am not a MS fan, not by a long shot. But I think they might have nailed it this time. And if I am dead wrong, I will admit as much.

    • CuttinHobo
    • 7 years ago

    “We’re launching a new product in a month that will cost between $19.95, and $49,999.95.”

    Well, I suppose this announcement was slightly more specific… but only slightly. 😀

    • superjawes
    • 7 years ago

    You know, it would be nice if Microsoft would actually announce the damn price already.

    • BabelHuber
    • 7 years ago

    From what I have heard so far, the Windows-tablets will come in 3 flavours:

    – ARM-Tablet with Windows RT:
    – Locked bootloader
    – Only Metro-Apps can be installed (aside from pre-installedd software)
    – No sideloading of Apps possible, Windows App store must be used

    – x86-Tablet with Core i5/i7:
    – Expensive
    – Heavy
    – Short battery runtime
    – Full Windows 8

    – x86-Tablet with Atom:
    – More expensive than ARM, cheaper than i5/i7-versions
    – Full Windows 8
    – Performance remains to be seen

    So, if you want a Tablet which is flexible, but not too heavy, not too expensive and has some battery runtime, the Atom-Tablet is the way to go.

    I am so looking forward to the first tests…

      • Ricardo Dawkins
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<] - x86-Tablet with Atom: - More expensive than ARM, cheaper than i5/i7-versions - Full Windows 8 - Performance remains to be seen[/quote<] Target set in some Asus Vivo Tab with Wacom stylus & keyboard dock.

      • Madman
      • 7 years ago

      I think you have a very good guess here.

      Physics and technology plays their part. We saw what you can pack into iPhone 5 form factor, we know what cheaper CPUs can do, we know how much juice faster CPUs drink, and we know how “great” the battery life is with current technology.

      Lets just say, there is only thing Microsoft can do, and it’s to completely surprise me, because I’m expecting the Surface HW/SF to be exactly what you described. And anything better will be a miracle.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      Even if MS itself doesn’t make an Atom Win 8 tablet, other companies surely will.

      I wouldn’t personally be too excited about current Atoms in a tablet, although they’d be better than many of the ARM tablets out there. When Silvermont Atom (new architecture finally replacing the Bonnell cores that have been in Atom from the start) is out in 2013, that will make Atom Win 8 x86 tablets much more interesting.

        • moog
        • 7 years ago

        I disagree, Atom is a win, cheap + portability + touch + full functionality + desktop.

      • tootercomputer
      • 7 years ago

      What is your source that Surface will include an Atom version?

    • pedro
    • 7 years ago

    If it has DDR4 I’ll be thrilled.

      • NeelyCam
      • 7 years ago

      Zero chance

        • pedro
        • 7 years ago

        Well, then…

      • Duck
      • 7 years ago

      Thrilled but stupid. Also you should prepare for dissapointment.

    • destroy.all.monsters
    • 7 years ago

    I’m looking forward to seeing who Ballmer’s replacement will be.

      • Geistbar
      • 7 years ago

      I know people love to rag on him, and he certainly doesn’t seem to have any talent for predicting market trends (he [i<]really[/i<] dropped the ball on smartphones), but I think people evaluate Ballmer's performance too harshly. Consider that Win7 was the first Windows OS that was started and finished with him in charge (Vista was launched by Ballmer, but started by Gates). Plus the rather impressive success of the 360 of late, some much improved rebranding (say what you will about "Bing", but "Microsoft Windows Live Search" is an infinitely worse name), all while still growing revenue and profit. I'd never call him a historic CEO, but it's not like he's an epic failure of one either; Microsoft can do better, but not to such an extent that it is an easy task to find a someone that they are safely confident is better.

    • blastdoor
    • 7 years ago

    “I think most people would tell you that the iPad is not a superexpensive device”

    That is kind of a remarkable statement given who it is coming from.

      • ShadowEyez
      • 7 years ago

      How so? This statement is coming from a billionaire who, some might say, is out of touch.

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    Oh dear, Ballmer clearly thinks that an x86 Surface is as good as and ultrabook and should be priced like one.

    Head, meet wall.
    Again.
    Again.
    Again…..

      • mcnabney
      • 7 years ago

      Yeah, Surface with atom =/= ultrabook with i5.

        • rado992
        • 7 years ago

        You do realize that the x86 Surface will have an i5 and 4 GB of RAM, right? 🙂 Hardware wise, the x86 Surface will be competitive with current ultrabooks. The screen density will be greater than any ultrabook at 1920×1080 @ 10 inches. Battery life, however, might be an issue as there might not be enough room for it. And, of course, the fact that, combined with the type cover, it will still be netbook-sized will be loved by some and hated by others.

          • Chrispy_
          • 7 years ago

          Whilst it will be smaller than an ultrabook, it will be so limited compared to an ultrabook.

          If (for ultrabook pricing) it comes with the keboard and surface mouse, a desktop stand with a bunch of USB ports and a displayport or HDMI, then it would at least be in the same league as an ultrabook. No tablet should be priced similar to a laptop because there is so much MISSING.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            what? are you familiar with the surface at all? it has the cover keyboard and mouse (if you want a hard one, it’s an option) it also comes with a stand, bunch of usb ports and hdmi. it’s in the same league as an ultrabook.

            • Madman
            • 7 years ago

            Maybe performance wise, but it will be as large as a netbook, which makes it IMPOSSIBLE to type effectively unless you’re a girl with small fingers.

            Also, doing office work on small, high ppi screens is a sure way to get an eye strain.

            • Chrispy_
            • 7 years ago

            The surface cover keyboard is NOT an adequate replacement for a dedicated keyboard with actual key travel.

            The mouse is an optional extra, unlike the ultrabook trackpad. Touchscreen features cannot be used when the tablet is in a stand (you’ll just knock it over).

            By “bunch of USB ports” you mean one, maybe two, and the HDMI will be a mini, requiring converters.
            Discrete graphics? No.
            Optimums? No.
            User-upgradable parts? No.
            1TB hard drives? No.
            Spinning disk/ mSATA SSD’s? No.
            Speakers you can actually hear? No.

            Don’t get me wrong, I think the x86 surface is going to be decent, but it is not anywhere near as complete a solution as an Ultrabook, so should not be priced like one.

        • Ricardo Dawkins
        • 7 years ago

        There is no Surface with Atom. Surface got Core i5 as those ultrabooks you are talking about

          • [+Duracell-]
          • 7 years ago

          It’s not going to stop a competing vendor to design an Atom-based Windows 8 tablet.

            • Chrispy_
            • 7 years ago

            [url=https://techreport.com/news/23590/leaked-slide-reveals-pricing-for-win8-asus-tablets#metal<]It looks like Asus already have.[/url<]

    • yogibbear
    • 7 years ago

    Windows RT surface @ <= $300. Good deal.

    Windows x86 surface @ =< $700. Depends on user scenario and if a laptop/desktop is a better option or smartphone + laptop or smartphone + desktop. But could be an excellent deal.

    If they miss either of those price points they have failed.

      • tviceman
      • 7 years ago

      $300 with the keyboard cover for RT and I am in line day 1.

        • Hattig
        • 7 years ago

        I’m guessing you’ll not be in a line on the 26th October then.

        • trackerben
        • 7 years ago

        Even to $400 just for a useable Office on the go. Up to $500 for added 3G and bluetooth hotspotting.

          • Madman
          • 7 years ago

          Usable Office… in a tablet form factor… LOLLLL

            • Madman
            • 7 years ago

            I guess people who downvote haven’t used Office, or anything even remotely related to productivity workflow, on a netbook.

            • trackerben
            • 7 years ago

            You’d be surprised how useful it is to always have a quick spreadsheet at your fingertips, and not only for misc work. My iPad serves as an auto media center, but a useable spreadsheet would serve as a searchable and manipulable service and mileage log without needing to fool around with some dedicated app. Any tabular stuff which must be set up, monitored, and mined on the spot such as roll calls, surveying, travel and shopping comparison, marketing and sales support, etc. can be data-entried on need.

            If you are deskbound and tied to workstation processes then you aren’t going to need these mobile capabilities. I used Docs to Go on my old Palms to key in a bunch of impromptu look-ups on stuff like network inventory, quirky wireless IPs, corporate phone plans, product tables, meeting attendance, etc.

            I suppose writing up letters would be a less frequent need on the go, but at least it’s there if needed. More important may be the ability to conveniently access documents and imagery for immediate review and turnaround. My wife is more likely to be more ecstatic about Office RT than me. She currently runs presentations from an HP netbook which she prefers to bring along on trips instead of her regular laptop. Her staff preloads powerpoint financials which she then rehearses on the way, followed by last-minute spreadsheet checks and redos of numbers and proposals. A well-designed Surface would be far better suited for complementing tasks under tight schedules like these.

            • ludi
            • 7 years ago

            Don’t confuse your personal needs and limitations, with everybody else’s.

            • trackerben
            • 7 years ago

            In the 1990s I used an old Fujitsu Poqet subnotebook with 7in half-VGA screen, keyboard, flash cards, 2-hour runtime. It ran MS-DOS and Lotus, industry standards in those days. Might have even tried VM386 or Carousel on it for quick tasking. I used it in accounting to setup and reconcile large ledgers between classes, but sold it once financial courses were mostly over. I remember liking its size which is only slightly smaller a current netbook, which is basically the Poqet PC concept partially reborn.

            Every handheld spreadsheet since then has been a downgrade experience for me. Not even Docs to Go on Palm could bring back that much spreadsheet functionality per inch/ounce. iPad with QuickOffice sort of did at first, but the slowness and bugs of that combo weaned me off anything more than loading sheets and doing quick lookups. DropBox with its built-in viewer could do almost as well anyway.

            If Surface with Office RT outdoes the iPad equivalent in functionality and useability and at the same or lower price, then for me it’s going to bring back the ghost of handhelds past…

      • designerfx
      • 7 years ago

      I’m quite worried about how much randomly restrictive crap is in RT. I don’t think any of us can predict just how restrictive it is until it’s released – and in humorous contrary, the new kindle fire HD or a nexus tablet I’m pretty sure people *do* indeed do their homework on (I do).

        • Sahrin
        • 7 years ago

        Well, you can use the SDK simulator.

      • mcnabney
      • 7 years ago

      It won’t be $300. Remember, they are bundling Office with it. So a $100 OS and $250 productivity suite – plus the cost of making the thing. They won’t beat Apple pricing unless there is a specific subsidy going on.

        • ludi
        • 7 years ago

        That’s not correct. The marginal cost of producing another copy of Windows or Office is roughly the cost of the documentation, license sticker, and install media (if any). For the volume of transactions Microsoft handles, that amounts to pocket change per copy. What Microsoft does have to do is figure out how to keep paying their developers, marketers, electric bill, investors, etc. A big chunk of money required to develop those products, and another big chunk of money is needed to maintain those products, so they need to sell those products at prices which [i<]on average[/i<] pay for the overall cost of running the business. But there is no rule that the OS has to be priced at $100, or that the Office portion has to be priced at $250, in a bundled product.

          • designerfx
          • 7 years ago

          If marginal costs were accurately reflected, windows and office would be free. Microsoft prefers to charge, so that is not the case.

        • raddude9
        • 7 years ago

        Not really, they will not be including the full version of Office with Windows RT. The ARM version of office is going to be missing quite a few features:
        [url<]http://www.guru3d.com/news_story/microsoft_office_rt_will_lack_features_and_be_late.html[/url<]

          • HallsMint
          • 7 years ago

          To be honest, I don’t think I’ll have a problem with any of those features being missing. I can’t recall a time where I’ve used any of them.

          I’m just a boring university student though, so that should explain why

            • yogibbear
            • 7 years ago

            And the professionals with money to buy one of these things are also art/politics students?

            Me thinks not.

          • Ricardo Dawkins
          • 7 years ago

          it is the full version of Office Home & Student. I dont expect many home user or students to use the VBA feature of Office

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 7 years ago

            You can’t use macros in Excel. Lots of teachers these days do use Excel macros, even as low as high school level.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            i’ve never seen them. only 1 of my teachers in college even knows what a macro is.

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            Switch to a different (better?) college

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            Who’s going to pay me to go if I switch?

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