Ballmer shoots down $199.99 Surface rumor

Windows 8 will be a revolutionary product when it’s released on October 26th, but whether it will be a commercial success is still to be seen. Microsoft is betting the farm that the new operating system, which will run on everything from desktops to tablets to phones, will catch on and end up being the ubiquitous operating system on the planet.

In a recent interview with Seattle Times, Steve Ballmer said that the expectation is Microsoft will have an “epic year” with all of their new products. He was also asked about whether the upcoming Microsoft Surface tablet would be competing with the iPad on price or features, and the answer seems to be “features.” Although he mentions that the price of the upcoming tablet has not yet been announced, he thinks the device will run somewhere between $300 and $800. This should put the $199 Surface rumor to bed.

It’s also clear that Ballmer believes that tablets should do more than what is currently offered on the market. He calls out the Kindle Fire in particular, saying that students would never use the device to do their homework, implying that the Surface will be a great all-around PC-like device.

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....

As we get closer to the release date, excitement for the latest Microsoft products will only continue to grow. We can’t wait to see if, like Ballmer believes, this will be “the most epic year in Microsoft history.”

Source: Seattle Times

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I'd save up and get one of these devices if I had too so price is meh. It's the fact that I'm going to have a full blown OS on my tablet rather than iOS and now will last me 10 hours?

But I do agree however, $199.99 would have been a golden selling point. That really sucks. I could've bought it on release date!

If it comes in anything over $299 for the RT version then it'll probably flop.
And if the intel version comes in at close to $800 then it'll flop as well (why spend that kind of money on a tablet when you can get a higher specced laptop/netbook for cheaper)?
Microsoft have an opportunity here to gain great market share if they want it, but it might mean they lose money on the hardware (they would make up for the shortcomings in software sales however). It purely depends on the price at which they are willing to release it (and knowing Microsoft, they will probably flub it).

Knowing this greedy little piggy, he'll probably charge close to $1000 for the tablet, ruining any chance that Microsoft had in entering the Tablet market.

This is really two different devices. A tablet RT which will compete with the Fire, Nexus, Note, Ipad. Then there is the Surface pro which at the 800$ price point he is saying would compete with ultrabooks with the added feature of being in the tablet form while needing the keyboard down the line. ( I forget if it comes with the keyboard dock or not. )

At 300$ I think the RT has a good chance if the apps are there and the screen looks good. That is 100$ cheaper than the ipad2. As long as there are apps for me to view pdfs, comics, movies (avi, mp4) and music it will be something I will look into.

The key word is "should." However, the form factor of a tablet severely limits its utility. If one has serious content creation to do, buy a full-sized laptop of desktop. Leave the tablet for casual use and games.

Well that's a shame. I was only going to buy it if it was $199 (for the RT). I guess I will never experience Windows 8.

I have no intention of upgrading my PCs or laptop because I think it is horrible for desktop use. But for a tablet, I think it may be a nice alternative to my iPad and Nexus 7.

Wish these articles would stop whoring the word 'REVOLUTIONARY' - nothing is even close to this when looking at w8, its a slap job put together in no time with half the things not working properly. What a load.... ALso with prices like those, MS should just go away....god, this is what the market needs now, overprices hardware with crap for software ridden by OEM's ..../s

would I ever do homework on a 7 inch? more likely that than a 10.1 inch. anything bigger than a 7 inch and it's more of a game machine. But then again schools just loved putting out their $150 books. so a 10 inch oh why not. waste the money. But Schools tend to use Apple so good luck to WIndows.

Will people stop the insane comparison between the Nexus 7 and the Surface? They are in two different class of products .. For heavens sake the Nexus starts with 8gb.. Surface starts at 32gb.

Considering that Surface is supposed to show other OEMs how to make a premium device, I would expect it to carry a price premium over their offerings.

I would expect these devices to be priced closer to Apple than existing Windows OEMs.
Sounds about right to me.

The highest price might be between $699 to $899. After that I might have to look elsewhere for a Windows 8 tablet, even it if cost a bit more but it's better than Surface Pro, like a bigger screen and fast processor.

scumdogmillionaire said,
Well, it was said a million times, the Surface is PREMIUM hardware. Not some cheapo crap. Anyone thinking it was going to be 199 was delusional,

Damn right. Look at those specs and put two and two together, you sure shouldn't end up with $199!

It's getting close to launch and there are no definite price points. I'd like to know so that I can start to acquire currency.

Wow I wonder which Windows 8 tablet will beat the quality and price of Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro. I bet it will cost over 1000 for the Smart PC while the Ativ Tab will be less than 700 or lower. =D Samsung!!

Princess Chica Ami said,
Wow I wonder which Windows 8 tablet will beat the quality and price of Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro. I bet it will cost over 1000 for the Smart PC while the Ativ Tab will be less than 700 or lower. =D Samsung!!

Watch this space. Some designs are gonna make ipads look bloated and weak.

You people are delusional. Why do you really think the Surface would cost $300? Show me another $300 tablet with 32GB of storage that is halfway successful. The goal is to make money on these things, not make them as cheap as possible. You cannot have a quality tablet PC at a cheap price without giving something up.

The price will be $499 without the keyboard dock. If you think that's too expensive compared to the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire, guess what? Ballmer just told you he is NOT competing with those products!!

Sigh...

dagamer34 said,

The price will be $499 without the keyboard dock. If you think that's too expensive compared to the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire, guess what? Ballmer just told you he is NOT competing with those products!!
Sigh...

RT is going to be competing against everything on the market including the Fire and Nexus 7. While the Fire is more geared towards media consumption, the Nexus 7 is competing head on. It's more than capable as a device for students, media consumption, office work, etc. Ballmer would like everyone to believe it's not competing against the Nexus 7, but the truth is, people are going to compare the two and realise that the N7 is a much better device, It has half a million apps, and top end hardware. What does RT have? No apps, and it can't run Windows x86 apps. That's going to be a tough sell.

simplezz said,

RT is going to be competing against everything on the market including the Fire and Nexus 7. While the Fire is more geared towards media consumption, the Nexus 7 is competing head on. It's more than capable as a device for students, media consumption, office work, etc. Ballmer would like everyone to believe it's not competing against the Nexus 7, but the truth is, people are going to compare the two and realise that the N7 is a much better device, It has half a million apps, and top end hardware. What does RT have? No apps, and it can't run Windows x86 apps. That's going to be a tough sell.

7" tablet with a back facing camera which starts at 8gb hs going to compared against a 10" tablet which starts at 32gb ? Goodluck with that . And btw android tablets doesn't have half a million apps.. Unless a phone app qualifies for a tablet app. Andtod doesn't even have 20,000 tablet ready apps.

I think it will be the upper end of the range, this is an upmarket device, the screen blows retina displays, comes with office and keyboard/cover - you are not going to get this cheap.

He never mentioned about surface though he hinted that. here is what he said:
"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 would say for the RT basic version could start from 300 or 350 which is expected. and is cheap. for pro version I think It will start from 700 or 800 and UP.

I really want to get my hands on a tablet with the power of an Ultrabook, not really willing to pay over 600GBP though.

I think a windows 8 tablet could help my business.

$200-$300 = Surface win.
$300-$500 = Well, there are other alternative for the same price (or even cheaper) but let's try it this new device.
$500-$800 = No way!

Brony said,
$200-$300 = Surface win.
$300-$500 = Well, there are other alternative for the same price (or even cheaper) but let's try it this new device.
$500-$800 = No way!


I agree Anything over 300 will not work.HE says they are competing with ipad.But really shouldn't they go after android?
WinRT may be much better than andorid.but we are just speculating hope fully MS can justify the price by actually showing us the full OS and functionality..make us want it real world use.Talking about dong homework. demonstrate these use cases effectively like Apple does in their presentations

Varoon said,

I agree Anything over 300 will not work.HE says they are competing with ipad.But really shouldn't they go after android?
WinRT may be much better than andorid.but we are just speculating hope fully MS can justify the price by actually showing us the full OS and functionality..make us want it real world use.Talking about dong homework. demonstrate these use cases effectively like Apple does in their presentations

Show me a successful Android tablet to go after. I want to point out that the Kindle Fire and Blackberry Playbook shared similar specs but one hugely outsold the other because of the real world capabilities of the device. Microsoft knows Windows is valuable, it will not be whored out on a $200 tablet to compete with the Kindle Fire.

I agree too and I want to mention the 8.9" Kindle Fire HD. IMO the usefulness of a tablet depends strongly on its resolution. At a $300 price point, with its 1920X1200 resolution, the 8.9" Kindle has every advantage over the Surface RT with its 1366x768 display.

At that price, I would choose the Kindle. For me, the most important thing about a tablet is the screen - because my work/life requires reading and making documents.

Microsoft has incorporated some nice gimmicks into the Surface RT like such as the kickstand and VaporMg but while those can perhaps tie it with the Kindle Fire HD in some eyes, they certainly are not enough to BEST it.

a1ien said,
Kindle has every advantage over the Surface RT with its 1366x768 display.

Isn't the Lumia 920's screen 1280 x 768??? So the Surface is just barely taller (or wider) despite being nearly double the screen size???

Brony said,
$200-$300 = Surface win.
$300-$500 = Well, there are other alternative for the same price (or even cheaper) but let's try it this new device.
$500-$800 = No way!

I pretty much agree, at 199.99 it was a must purchase, at 299.99, I'll think very long and hard about it and probably talk myself out of it, higher, and I wont even think about it, don't need it that badly, or at all it was a want not a need.

dagamer34 said,

Show me a successful Android tablet to go after.

The Nexus 7. It has sold millions. Samsung's Galaxy and Asus' Transformer lines have also performed well.

dagamer34 said,

Microsoft knows Windows is valuable, it will not be whored out on a $200 tablet to compete with the Kindle Fire.

Windows is only as valuable as the applications that run on it, and Microsoft knows that. The RT version has none of the benefits of Windows x86, chiefly, the x86 app base. In fact there's nothing compelling about it. That's why the price has to be very low. As far as the pro version goes, who can afford a 1.2k toy? No thanks, I'd rather get a nexus 7 for 199.

a1ien said,
I agree too and I want to mention the 8.9" Kindle Fire HD. IMO the usefulness of a tablet depends strongly on its resolution. At a $300 price point, with its 1920X1200 resolution, the 8.9" Kindle has every advantage over the Surface RT with its 1366x768 display.

At that price, I would choose the Kindle. For me, the most important thing about a tablet is the screen - because my work/life requires reading and making documents.

Microsoft has incorporated some nice gimmicks into the Surface RT like such as the kickstand and VaporMg but while those can perhaps tie it with the Kindle Fire HD in some eyes, they certainly are not enough to BEST it.

Going to be creating many documents on a Kindle Fire? Wouldn't Office be better for that, reglardless of screen resolution?

Seems like Windows 8 and Android will share something, all the tables with them are dead on arrival.

Steve Jobs was correct from the beginning.

MeltedMacaroni said,
Seems like Windows 8 and Android will share something, all the tables with them are dead on arrival.

The Nexus 7? Millions of sales is classed as dead on arrival now?

MeltedMacaroni said,

Steve Jobs was correct from the beginning.

Apple is on the decline now. It's following the market rather than setting it - iPad mini in response to the Nexus 7 / Kindle Fire.

if its not gonna be cheaper than an ipad by a good margin, why bother?
currently there arent enough apps to make me want to buy another "test device", did that with the palm pre and blackberry, history tells me not to

peacemf said,
if its not gonna be cheaper than an ipad by a good margin, why bother? currently there arent enough apps to make me want to buy another "test device", did that with the palm pre and blackberry, history tells me not to

Maybe not everybody wants an iPad? 8 hasn't even hit the shelves yet so of course it's going to be a little slow at first for RT apps, and if you're using the x86 based Surface Pro, you already have an absurd amount of software available right now.

peacemf said,
if its not gonna be cheaper than an ipad by a good margin, why bother?
currently there arent enough apps to make me want to buy another "test device", did that with the palm pre and blackberry, history tells me not to

It runs Windows, Microsoft isn't going to throw away Windows if the Surface doesn't work out and neither are its partners. There are only couple of thousand apps right now (what do you expect, it isnt even out yet) but since Office is one of those apps the surface (IMO) is worth more then the iPad.

The fact that it runs Windows guarantees that there will be more apps. Developers are reluctant to jump onto a unproven platform but this is Windows. Just about every big name has announced that they'll have an app out for it. The much needed core support is already there, once those apps are out many more will soon follow.

Normally I would agree that it is better to wait, but if this is priced sharpely then I'll buy one at launch. And I'm talking about the RT version. However the pro version already has a million applications, it is already a succes before release.

Ronnet said,

It runs Windows, Microsoft isn't going to throw away Windows if the Surface doesn't work out and neither are its partners. There are only couple of thousand apps right now (what do you expect, it isnt even out yet) but since Office is one of those apps the surface (IMO) is worth more then the iPad.

The fact that it runs Windows guarantees that there will be more apps. Developers are reluctant to jump onto a unproven platform but this is Windows. Just about every big name has announced that they'll have an app out for it. The much needed core support is already there, once those apps are out many more will soon follow.

Normally I would agree that it is better to wait, but if this is priced sharpely then I'll buy one at launch. And I'm talking about the RT version. However the pro version already has a million applications, it is already a succes before release.


i'll agree that its windows and therefore unlikely to get thrown in the dumps.
but i also owned a zune , if anythings gonna fail it would be windows rt, windows pro is different, its proper windows with a fancy interface........that wont fail.......
windows rt is the one im interested in ..............and i agree if the price is low i'll give it a shot, if its high hmmmmmm

peacemf said,

i'll agree that its windows and therefore unlikely to get thrown in the dumps.
but i also owned a zune , if anythings gonna fail it would be windows rt, windows pro is different, its proper windows with a fancy interface........that wont fail.......
windows rt is the one im interested in ..............and i agree if the price is low i'll give it a shot, if its high hmmmmmm
Windows RT is not going to fail. Even if RT tablets don't do well Microsoft needs Windows on ARM. Datacenters are drooling over 64bit ARM and RT is Microsoft's first step toward that.

Asmodai said,
Windows RT is not going to fail. Even if RT tablets don't do well Microsoft needs Windows on ARM. Datacenters are drooling over 64bit ARM and RT is Microsoft's first step toward that.

Just like the iPad was in response to Windows Tablet PC Edition? Steve Jobs' bio admitted that, he just felt that they did it better

I'm looking forward to seeing more competition. It's going to push everyone to make better products.

peacemf said,
if its not gonna be cheaper than an ipad by a good margin, why bother?
currently there arent enough apps to make me want to buy another "test device", did that with the palm pre and blackberry, history tells me not to

Don't worry. Soon there will be just as much sh!tware for you in the Microsoft Store as in the Apple App Store.

Netbooks on Amazon are $250 now. Similar hardware with a nicer screen with this. It COULD sell for $350 and still be profitable, now we'll see how much the greed factor and 199 rumors combine to actually create a retail price.

If they play games with memory prices or any other limiting or crippling tactics to bump up the price, I'll won't even give it a second look. Let the market decide, game on.

I still think they can get the $199 price if you agree to buy a subscription to XBox live or XBox Music Pass. They could even offer the same deal for other OEMs. "Get buyers to sign up for our services and we will provide the rebate." or something along those lines

Yeah. Imagine $400-$600 (storage dependent) for the RT and $700-$900 (storage dependent) for the Pro, give or take $50.

Its a reasonable price expectation when considering the capability and value proposition of the device and accessories. Microsoft will need to draw crystal clear and sharp distinctions in its marketing when comparing Surface to the iPad. This is the opening that Microsoft and Nokia needed and with what Apple showed last week, timing currently is on their side. I'm holding my breath on the WP8 "FULL" reveal, I'm expecting to be surprised.

This does not put the $200 rumor to bed in my opinion. Out of all the tablets out there he chose to pick a 7-inch tablet to compare with the Surface.

rojorojo said,
This does not put the $200 rumor to bed in my opinion. Out of all the tablets out there he chose to pick a 7-inch tablet to compare with the Surface.

The bill of materials for such a device is well over $200. Don't expect it to reach that low without a subscription where you will eventually pay its true value anyway.

As dagamer34 said, the BOM alone is higher than that. Unless Microsoft intends to subsidise it, the price will probably be around:

$350-500 for the RT, and 1.2k+ for the pro.

Jesus H... the Kindle Fire isn't for students needing to do work. It is a leisure device. That is kind if the point, and it isn't really trying to compete with Surface.

seebaran said,
Jesus H... the Kindle Fire isn't for students needing to do work. It is a leisure device. That is kind if the point, and it isn't really trying to compete with Surface.

That's kinda the point Ballmer was making.

seebaran said,
Jesus H... the Kindle Fire isn't for students needing to do work. It is a leisure device. That is kind if the point, and it isn't really trying to compete with Surface.

Way to miss the point.

technikal said,

That's kinda the point Ballmer was making.

It sounded to me like he was suggesting the Fire was Surface's only competitor and that its features were not good enough for the general consumer. Well course it isn't, it's not meant to be a general purpose PC, it's meant to be a media consumption device, and it meets that goal admirably.

Balmer fails to realise that the surface is actually up against stronger competitors like the Nexus 7, Asus' Transformer line, Samsung's Galaxy Note, and the iPad. Those are the real competition because they are also general purpose rather than dedicated to media consumption like the Fire.

And while the pro version might be able to compete by virtue of its application back catalogue, the RT version is going to really struggle. It has no compatibility with the x86 application base and can only run Metro interface programs, which means a complete rewrite of apps, not just a simple port. That's an uphill battle right there.

simplezz said,

It sounded to me like he was suggesting the Fire was Surface's only competitor and that its features were not good enough for the general consumer. Well course it isn't, it's not meant to be a general purpose PC, it's meant to be a media consumption device, and it meets that goal admirably.

Balmer fails to realise that the surface is actually up against stronger competitors like the Nexus 7, Asus' Transformer line, Samsung's Galaxy Note, and the iPad. Those are the real competition because they are also general purpose rather than dedicated to media consumption like the Fire.

And while the pro version might be able to compete by virtue of its application back catalogue, the RT version is going to really struggle. It has no compatibility with the x86 application base and can only run Metro interface programs, which means a complete rewrite of apps, not just a simple port. That's an uphill battle right there.


We'll find out in the next month or so. Either way i'm actually quite interested in what they come up with. Seems microsoft is really going for it with regards to Windows 8 and creating a complete device set to run it. If it turns out to be good I might ditch my android phone for WP8 and upgrade my PC to windows 8.

Funny how he bashes on the Kindle fire. I've gotta say that device has one of the most readable screens I've ever seen. I was looking at one in best buy the other day and got absolutely NO eye fatigue reading a few pages of a book. That's more than I can say about an iPad or most other tablet devices.

Chris123NT said,
Funny how he bashes on the Kindle fire. I've gotta say that device has one of the most readable screens I've ever seen.

Yup, one of mine is a Fire, it's actually a fairly decent unit, and I agree, quite good as a general purpose viewer/browser device (using third party firmware that is). Think he's referring to capabilities in general though, it's just not in the same league as the Surface Pro.

Chris123NT said,
Funny how he bashes on the Kindle fire. I've gotta say that device has one of the most readable screens I've ever seen. I was looking at one in best buy the other day and got absolutely NO eye fatigue reading a few pages of a book. That's more than I can say about an iPad or most other tablet devices.

Yes not the roses of comments but I think its a sign of a new confidence in their products. What he said was true, your main attachment is reading and don't get me wrong it does that well. Amazon is laser focused on services, having a nice reading experience is the initial attachment. Surface is more.

Chris123NT said,
Funny how he bashes on the Kindle fire. I've gotta say that device has one of the most readable screens I've ever seen. I was looking at one in best buy the other day and got absolutely NO eye fatigue reading a few pages of a book. That's more than I can say about an iPad or most other tablet devices.

How is he bashing it? He is pointing out that while it might be a great e-reader, it isn't an all-round product, unlike the Surface. He makes this point as an explanation for the higher price point of the Surface devices.

Chris123NT said,
Funny how he bashes on the Kindle fire. I've gotta say that device has one of the most readable screens I've ever seen.

He said, and the quote is right above in the story:

It doesn't mean you might not read a book on it

Chris123NT said,
Funny how he bashes on the Kindle fire. I've gotta say that device has one of the most readable screens I've ever seen. I was looking at one in best buy the other day and got absolutely NO eye fatigue reading a few pages of a book. That's more than I can say about an iPad or most other tablet devices.

He didn't bash it, he just said it wasn't a very capable device for doing something like homework or other productivity-related tasks. I have an original Kindle Fire and he's right. It's got very specific tasks it's capable of performing.

Anthony Tosie said,

He didn't bash it, he just said it wasn't a very capable device for doing something like homework or other productivity-related tasks. I have an original Kindle Fire and he's right. It's got very specific tasks it's capable of performing.

And a sports car isn't very capable of performing off-road. Shocker!

andrewbares said,

And a sports car isn't very capable of performing off-road. Shocker!


I never said it was a shocker. I was clarifying the statement Ballmer made, since it was misinterpreted.

Dot Matrix said,
I expect to pay $599-$799 for a Surface Pro, anything above that, and it will be too expensive, and crash.

I doubt it will be that cheap. It has to be more expensive than an ultrabook and those aren't that cheap. It's similar in specs to the Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro and that is $1120.

The thing is, it combines a $600 tablet with a $1000 ultrabook but costs $1120, so I think it's a fair price.

Dot Matrix said,
I expect to pay $599-$799 for a Surface Pro, anything above that, and it will be too expensive, and crash.
You can hardly get an i5 for that price...

Dot Matrix said,
I expect to pay $599-$799 for a Surface Pro, anything above that, and it will be too expensive, and crash.

For starters the Surface Pro has more better specs than the MBA .. not forget the touch screen, gps, nfc, 8mp camera, accelerometer, pen input etc. .. if the MBA starts at $900 why do you think they will sell the Surface more than $300 less?

Dot Matrix said,
I expect to pay $599-$799 for a Surface Pro, anything above that, and it will be too expensive, and crash.

Then you are delusional and again show you just don't understand the market positioning in your race to the bottom.

This is Jack's complete lack of surprise.