Microsoft to drive Windows tablet strategy with smaller devices, OS rebates
Courtesy Gregg Keizer, ComputerWorld
Computerworld – Microsoft’s chief financial officer yesterday confirmed that the company and its hardware partners would ship smaller, lower-priced Windows tablets in the next months.
"We are working closely with OEMs on a new suite of small touch devices powered by Windows," said Peter Klein Microsoft’s outgoing CFO in aconference call with Wall Street analysts Thursday. "These devices will have competitive price points, partly enabled by our latest OEM offerings designed specifically for these smaller devices, and will be available in the coming months."
Later in the call, Klein said that the expanded tablet portfolio would feature Surface devices as well as ones from its OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), and that lower prices would be one of their hallmarks.
Last week the Wall Street Journal reported that Microsoft itself would launch a series of smaller, less-expensive Surface tablets in 2013 to better compete in that fast-growing segment of the market. One analyst pegged $299 as a possible starting price; previously, other experts had speculated on prices ranging from $199 to $399.
Microsoft’s tablets start at $499 for the Surface RT, which uses Windows RT, the tablet-oriented, touch-only operating system, and $899 for the Surface Pro, the device that relies on Windows 8 Pro and can run "legacy" applications that also run on Windows 7 PCs. Those prices do not include the keyboard-slash-covers which Microsoft emphasizes as a key component of the it’s-a-tablet-it’s-a-PC strategy for Surface.
Although the Surface RT’s price is competitive with that of Apple’s 9.7-in. iPad, all the Surface tablets cost significantly more than Apple’s 7.9-in. iPad Mini or the slew of 7-in. tablets running Google’s Android.
Klein’s comments were the first official word from Microsoft that it plans to join the sub-8-in. tablet market.