It was presumed that Microsoft would offer its ARM-friendly version of Windows 8 -- aka Windows RT -- on the cheap given that both Microsoft and tablet manufacturers want to push Apple's own iPad into a dark little corner of the tablet market. Achieving this would not only mean providing a AAA experience, but a low price tag. Even more, Google doesn't charge manufacturers anything at all to use its Android platform -- the search engine giant makes its money off advertising, app and other media sales.
But apparently offering Windows RT for a reduced price isn't on Microsoft's list of goals. Various reports claim Microsoft is charging manufacturers between $80 and $95 USD for an OEM Windows RT license to be used on a tablet. That's roughly the same pricetag required for the OEM version of Windows 7 Home Premium for desktops and laptops,
"During our meetings with multiple vendors on the Computex Taipei, we were talking about pricing options for taking the Windows RT route instead of (free) Android from Google," reports VR-Zone. "While it was rumored that Microsoft decided to change their ways and offer a price of about 35 dollars – the reality is that Windows RT will cost staggering USD $80-95 dollars, with $85 being the most commonly quoted price."
That said, a Windows RT tablet with the same hardware specs as an Android-based tablet won't be equally priced unless the Microsoft partner plans to take a hit in the wallet. Nvidia's own bill of materials (BoM) has surpassed $100, leaving virtually no room for a sub-$500 tablet. So far there's talk that Windows RT launch tablets will range between $549 and $799 for mainstream consumers, and between $799 and $899 for premium models.
Meanwhile, Amazon, Google and Apple will reportedly invade the tablet market with their new 7-inch models hovering in the $200 range sometime before Halloween. Will Windows RT tablets be able to survive in a market saturated with these new premium entries? Probably not if Microsoft and its partners don't get the pricing under control.