Microsoft has confirmed that the first Surface tablets will go on sale at the same time as Windows 8, on October 26.
In its annual report to the US Securities and Exchange commission, Microsoft confirmed that the new Surface series will start being sold on the same day as Windows 8. It wrote, "the next version of our operating system, Windows 8, will be generally available on October 26, 2012. At that time, we will begin selling the Surface, a series of Microsoft-designed and manufactured hardware devices."
This next generation of Surface products encompasses more than just one item, though. We'll see the "affordable" ARM-powered Surface tablets go on sale first, before the more expensive Ivy Bridge models roughly three months later in early 2013.
The Surface should make good use of the touch-optimised Metro UI
The cheaper ARM-based tablets are known as Windows RT tabs. Microsoft has to date not revealed any pricing info on the Surface tablets, but says that they'll be competitive with ARM-based tablets from other manufacturers. This suggests we're looking at around a £400-plus wallet hole for these initial models. The Ivy Bridge-powered versions will be significantly more expensive, though - closer to the £700-1000 price of an Ultrabook, for lower-end models.
Microsoft's Surface tablets have 10.6in screens and run the Windows 8 operating system. This is Microsoft's all-out effort to steal some of the tablet market away from Apple, one of the key selling points being the neat keyboard case - which should make it more useful as a productivity tool than a vanilla iPad. What would tempt you to give the Surface a prod? Let us know in the comments.
Apple iPad or Microsoft Surface? We take a look.