Anonymous sources (as they usually are) are claiming that the Windows RT powered Surface tablets will be coming in October for a mere $199. While I have a lot of reasons to take this as a bad attempt at humor and a bad rumor, there are a couple reasons why it could be legit. It would put a lot of Windows 8 tablets in the hands of consumers. Seeing the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 fly off shelves by offering a powerful tablet for a very low price may have gotten Microsoft happy. Coupled with the Microsoft Store application, it would be a consumption device. Sell at a loss, but make the money (and then some) back by app and in-app purchases.
I won’t take this as fact until Microsoft confirms it themselves. Personally, I’m taking it as a hoax or a bad rumor. I don’t expect them to be $199 at release. If they do, I’ll eat those words… And buy 3 tablets at launch, and give one away on the site. If not, and they are >$500, I’ll pass on them and wait for a cost friendly model.
That MSRP, almost certainly lower than Microsoft’s own cost, would line it up against the Nexus 7 and even the Kindle Fire. It would put Windows 8 on the map in a big way and give a lot of people a lot of reason to try out an operating system that is going to feel rather different than previous incarnations. The question is: will it drive enough sales of media and apps for Microsoft to recoup its loss? Or, will companies like Acer put up enough of a fight in the months between now and October to keep Microsoft from undercutting its own partners? We’ll find out soon, dear readers.