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October 17, 2012

Microsoft Reportedly Building up 5M Surface Tablets for Q4

By Rory Lidstone, TMCnet Contributing Writer

The release of Microsoft's (News - Alert) Surface tablet, October 26, is fast approaching and it seems the folks at Redmond want to be sure they're ready for the big day. Demonstrating a great deal of confidence, Microsoft has apparently placed orders for a massive number of Surface tablets — somewhere in the range of three to five million — for the final quarter of this year.

Microsoft isn't the only one stocking up for the holiday season, though, as both Amazon and Google (News - Alert) are reportedly putting orders in for comparable numbers of their Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 tablets, respectively.

However, in the case of the Surface, it may be possible that Microsoft will end up with a surplus on its hands.

While the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 have already proven they have strong consumer appeal, it's hard to say just how popular Microsoft's first tablet will be. To be fair, the Surface is a premium device, with reportedly excellent build quality – and Windows RT, the ARM (News - Alert)-friendly version of Windows 8, apparently runs quite smoothly on it.

The tablet's keyboard dock, prominently featured in advertising and press shots, also looks like an exercise in tight, clever and functional design.

But history is filled with great products that never made it – Microsoft's own Zune PMP, for example, which still holds a small devoted fan base.

The fact is that the Surface is facing a strong competitor with the iPad, while Microsoft's own reputation may work against it. It seems that most people associate 'Windows' with crashing, constant virus scanning and monthly updates. Tablets aren't supposed to work like that, and though the Surface appears to have none of these problems, the damage may have already been done.

However, pricing for the Surface was recently unveiled and it seems that the 32 GB model will cost $499 without the keyboard dock – the same price point as the 16GB iPad. While not the competitive pricing some were hoping for, it still puts the Surface at a price advantage.

As always, only time will tell just how the situation plays out.

Edited by Braden Becker
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