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Microsoft CEO Ballmer Still Dancing Around Surface Pricing

By - Source: Seattle Times | B 29 comments

We probably won't know any true Surface pricing until just days before it actually ships.

In a recent interview with the Seattle Times, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer danced around the pricing of the company's upcoming Surface tablet, saying that Microsoft will offer a very competitive product from a features standpoint. He also took a shot at the cheaper, smaller tablets like Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle Fire HD, indicating that they're "less good, they're chintzier."

"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," he said.

But that's the thing: the Kindle Fire and similar tablets aren't really made for doing homework. They're good for entertainment and web surfing, for checking email and reading books and doing some lite online shopping. Comparing the 10-inch Surface tablets to these products is like comparing a BMW to a bicycle, yet that doesn't stop Ballmer from poking fun at the 7-inch competitors anyway.

"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," he added.

Still, students can do their homework on 7-inch Android tablets like the Nexus 7. Hook up a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and you have a makeshift netbook. Sure, the screen is rather small, but there are plenty of free tools that students could use to get the job done without having to dump loads of money into Office 2013. Users can write and store documents in the cloud using Google Drive, or use one of the premium productivity suites like QuickOffice or Documents to Go. It can be done, and on the cheap too.

Earlier in the interview, Ballmer called 2012 the most epic year in Microsoft's history. Indeed it may be, as Windows 8 launches a whole new generation for the popular operating system. Microsoft is embracing an era where touch-based mobility has become one of the primary computing platforms, and desktops are becoming less of a focal point. That said, this will be even bigger than Windows 95's debut.

"You know, Windows 95 was certainly the biggest thing in the last 20 years until now," he said. "I think Windows 8 certainly surpasses it. It's a little hard to compare things like the founding (of the company) and the introduction of the first popular PC and the system that popularized it, but it's at that scale."

Ballmer was then asked about what he's going to do if Windows 8 doesn't catch on. He responded by saying the platform will do great, dismissing any doubts. "I'm not paid to have doubts," he mused.

"People talk about: 'How healthy is the PC market?' There's going to be close to 400 million PCs sold in the next year, which makes it a big market. And whether it's 405 (million) or 395 (million), it's a big market, and Windows 8 will propel that volume," Ballmer added.

To read the full interview, head here.

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  • 3 Hide
    bourgeoisdude , September 17, 2012 6:25 PM
    Ballmer's a piece of work. But if Surface RT debuts at $299 as he implies, it'll definitely be an attractive alternative to Google/iOS. I'll admit I'm more interested in the Pro version though.
  • 17 Hide
    igot1forya , September 17, 2012 6:31 PM
    Thanks Toms, your headline gave me the disturbing image of Steve Ballmer dancing around... now I must take a cold shower.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , September 17, 2012 6:36 PM
    Price will be similar to a up scale net book $349 to $399
  • 6 Hide
    CaedenV , September 17, 2012 6:36 PM
    October cannot get here fast enough. If I knew what the full feature set of WP8/RT were, and what the prices of the devices were, then I would be able to make a decision right now about if I will be moving to that ecosystem, or moving from windows to the linux/android ecosystem. I don't mind waiting for all the final win8/RT/WP8 hardware to be released if that is what I am going to move to, but if I am waiting for nothing I would much rather know now, and make my purchase.

    At least I know what to expect with win8 for the desktop, and for a $40 upgrade fee to move from win7home to win8pro I am sold on that at least, but there are simply too many unanswered questions about the mobile platforms.
  • 2 Hide
    freggo , September 17, 2012 6:37 PM
    Every time I see a photo of Mr. Ballmer I want to switch to Linux...
  • 14 Hide
    master_chen , September 17, 2012 6:41 PM
    igot1foryaThe disturbing image of Steve Ballmer dancing around...

    Developers. Developers? Developers?! Developers!

  • 7 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 17, 2012 6:46 PM
    igot1foryaThanks Toms, your headline gave me the disturbing image of Steve Ballmer dancing around... now I must take a cold shower.

    Cold shower cos he gave you a boner? THAT'S disturbing...
  • 5 Hide
    RealBeast , September 17, 2012 6:50 PM
    "You know, Windows 95 was certainly the biggest thing in the last 20 years until now," he said.

    Now that's funny, or very sad if he didn't mean it as a joke.

    "I think Windows 8 certainly surpasses it. . . . "

    I would hope so, but does it surpass Windows 7 Mr. Ballmer?
  • 2 Hide
    Bloob , September 17, 2012 6:59 PM
    The whole Win 8 -thing will be quite popular in the long run, I believe. Basically, you'll be able to make applications for a phone, tablet, laptop, desktop, or tv(xbox), or any combination of these, in "one sitting". Of course, and you'd have to figure out the controls for each individual platform, but that's no biggie. The best applications could require only a single purchase between devices. Of course system optimized applications ( mainly games ), will likely still stay on one or two of these platforms.
  • -6 Hide
    goodguy713 , September 17, 2012 7:05 PM
    lol EPIC FAIL..
  • 4 Hide
    igot1forya , September 17, 2012 7:06 PM
    back_by_demandCold shower cos he gave you a boner? THAT'S disturbing...


    Is that not normal? uh oh...
  • 4 Hide
    Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer , September 17, 2012 7:18 PM
    JacekRingYes cause I really need to flick through 200 pages of apps just to find the one I want. Because I hate to have an organized, functional, professional feeling start menu.Trust me, windows 8 will take off like a rocket on tablets, and sink like the Titanic on desktops. The only people who would like windows 8 on a desktop are the same people who like iOS on a desktop. And quit frankly they are all already on Apple so not much room left for windows 8 to succeed.I will bet you that within a year we will get a windows 8 CV version (CV = classic version) which will ditch metro and restore the start menu for the desktop versions of win8.

    I'll take that bet, not 'cause I want you to be wrong, but because I am nearly certain, sadly, that you are. There's no way they're gonna fold on this little investment that quickly.

    And let's face it, desktops just aren't that relevant anymore for the average consumer. Relevant for me, 'cause I'm a geek; relevant for you, probably, 'cause you're a geek. Relevant for "Your MOM hurr hurr" (or my mom, for that matter)? Nah.
  • 5 Hide
    teh_chem , September 17, 2012 7:57 PM
    "Still, students can do their homework on 7-inch Android tablets like the Nexus 7. Hook up a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and you have a makeshift netbook. "

    Sure, a makeshift netbook running an Android OS that is plagued with severe app (and even system) stability.

    Having tried to use my TF101 (with the keyboard in fact) for "productivity" things, I found the constant freezing and crashing of apps to be entirely counter-productive. I would never recommend a tablet for such things--unless, of course, MS is making improvements in those options (which I hope they are).

    But I take issue with his attack--a lot of people want a tablet just for the things he's poking fun at. Personally, I can't wait to get my 8.9" Fire HD because I use a lot of Amazon services, and I'm looking forward to good integration and good content. As such, tablets so far ARE media-consumption devices--so making fun of them for being so is like criticizing video game consoles for playing video games.

    Now, don't get me wrong, I look forward to when tablets are productivity devices--maybe that will be with Windows 8 tablets--but if you still have to put up with app/system stability problems, then all of the work (and poking-fun) has been for nothing. I await their products. :) 
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , September 17, 2012 7:58 PM
    It should be his last dance! Someone should replace him to save Microsoft.
  • 2 Hide
    house70 , September 17, 2012 8:01 PM
    I like Ballmer as much as the next guy (not at all, really), but does Tom have to use same 1-2 tired photos of him every time? I mean, the great journalists there can not even get a picture from these conferences?
  • -2 Hide
    boiler1990 , September 17, 2012 8:18 PM
    With all of the tech announcements these past few weeks (Apple, Nokia, and the bigger conventions), I'm struggling to understand why Microsoft is waiting until the end of October to announce anything further about W8/RT, devices, etc.

    Microsoft is in a market where huge changes can happen monthly, even weekly, and they're at the bottom of the pile in terms of market share. They don't understand that they need to force their way into this market, strong and fast, in order to make their platform successful.

    Very few people disagree that the Surface + W8 will be a great combination, but the problem with holding out on pricing and final specs is that most people resort to their traditional impression of MSFT - laid back, behind the times, and ultimately slow to move. If MSFT really wants to hype people up, they can't just give us whiffs of a device, because the average person isn't as interested in chasing a company that has a record for not meeting expectations, when they could be catered to by Apple, Samsung, and HTC (to name a few).

    MSFT - holding out on us only hurts you in the long (and short run). And right now, the short run is really important.
  • 1 Hide
    killerclick , September 17, 2012 8:19 PM
    Even 10 years after the failure of Tablet PC, Microsoft still doesn't understand what tablets are about. Tablets are not PCs, they're not supposed to be PCs and customers don't want them to be PCs. Proof? Tablet PC and every other tablet/laptop hybrid has failed to catch on. The only tablets that sold are the iPad, Kindle Fire and Nexus 7. What do they have in common? They're simple devices for reading, communicating, web browsing and playing casual games. Instead of realizing this, Microsoft is trying to make desktop Windows users use their PCs as tablets/handheld devices instead, which will leave us with inferior software on an unsuitable form factor.

    Still, if they sell the Surface RT for $300 and Surface Pro for $600, they just might get enough people for it to take off, but it'll be at the expense of those who use their computers for actual work.
  • 0 Hide
    killerclick , September 17, 2012 8:24 PM
    boiler1990With all of the tech announcements these past few weeks (Apple, Nokia, and the bigger conventions), I'm struggling to understand why Microsoft is waiting until the end of October to announce anything further about W8/RT, devices, etc. ... MSFT - holding out on us only hurts you in the long (and short run). And right now, the short run is really important.


    If they said today that Surface RT will retail for $300 and Pro for $600, there would be plenty of people who would hold off buying a competing product. I'm guessing either the prices will be higher than is now expected, or they're trying to hold off pricing to the last minute because they're not sure what they can get away with.
  • -4 Hide
    dimar , September 17, 2012 8:56 PM
    It will be total failure due to 16:9 screen ratio.
  • 0 Hide
    bustapr , September 17, 2012 9:20 PM
    Quote:
    "I'm not paid to have doubts," he mused.


    what a wonderful CEO. I wonder how he got the job.
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