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Report: Microsoft's ARM-based Surface Tablet to Cost $600

The typical unnamed sources spouting insider information to DigiTimes reports that Microsoft's ARM-based Surface tablet sporting Windows RT and Nvidia's quad-core Tegra 3 will be priced around $599. The Intel Ivy Bridge version featuring Windows 8 Pro is expected to cost even more, selling above $799 at the very least. Both 10.6-inch Surface tablet models will be assembled by Taiwan-based Pegatron Technology.

Charles Lin, chief financial officer for the Taipei-based company, said that the Surface tablets will help promote the Windows ecosystem as Microsoft competes with Apple's iPad and Google's own Nexus tablets. However he wouldn't confirm if the company was actually assembling the just-announced gadget. Instead, he said Pegatron currently has as many as five tablet products in development for both Windows and Android platforms.

"I think this is the major purpose of them doing a tablet, as it can enhance their ecosystem, to help them promote and get a lot of developers to make apps to share in their store," Lin told Bloomberg in a phone interview. "This kind of device may help them to promote their Win8 solutions and demonstrate the strengths and capabilities of the new Windows 8."

Sources have pointed out that while Microsoft may have caught the interest of consumers with its hybrid Windows 8 product, the overall price may be the biggest obstacle. There's also a matter of its Windows 8 OEMs who are also churning out non-Surface Windows 8 Pro and RT tablets like HP and Dell -- they may feel somewhat offended by the move. Then again, Google is taking the same route, serving up its own Nexus tablets starting next week.

There's speculation that Microsoft doesn’t trust the fate of Windows 8 and Windows RT on tablets to the OEMs. Given the operating system's overhaul, this is a "make it or break it" scenario for Microsoft. Its OEMs are good at producing desktops and laptops, but so far the only real Apple iPad rivals have been Samsung's tablets and Amazon's Kindle Fire, both based on Google's Android.

But like Google, which is offering OEMs early access to Android "Jelly Bean" (now believed to be v4.1 instead of 5.0), Microsoft may ditch the previously-rumored Windows 8 Pro and Windows RT licensing fees (supposedly $85 for the latter) to keep partners in happy spirits and price points lower.

As for the Surface tablets, sources from "notebook players" said that the industrial design should attract consumers in the enterprise market.