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Confusion continues to swirl around the hot, new Surface for Windows RT tablets Microsoft has promised to deliver on October 26, 2012. The Redmond, WA-based software company could clear up a lot of our questions with a press conference, some prototypes and firm pricing, but so far it prefers to keep us in suspense. Here is what we know.

ARM-based Tablets Running Touch-Oriented OS

Surface for Windows RT will run applications written for the touch-oriented Windows RT operating system (OS). This watered-down version of Windows 8 OS will have a desktop mode, but the RT desktop will only run select apps like Internet Explorer and Office for Home and Student 2013.

If you have been excited by the possibility of running your Windows XP, Vista, or 7 applications on a 10.6 inch tablet, you need to remember that these early Surfaces are not the tablets that will allow you to run desktop applications. Partners like Samsung and Lenovo will be offering Windows 8 tablets this fall, but we do not expect Surface for Windows 8 Pro until early next year.

Vital Statistics

* 10.6 inch ClearType HD display screen
* 16:9 widescreen format
* 1.5 pounds
* 9.3 mm thick–less than half an inch

Internal Organs

* Nvidia Tegra 3 ARM chip
* 31.5 W-h battery
* 32GB or 64GB configurations

Bling

* Touch keyboard cover in choice of five colors
* Integrated kick stand
* VaporMg casing
* Full-size USB 2.0 port
* Mini-HDMI port
* Micro-SD slot
* Front- and rear-facing cameras
* 2×2 MIMO antennas
* Stereo speakers
* 3.5mm headphone jack

Surface for Windows RT Speculation

We have known all those details for months now. We also know Microsoft plans to release Surface RT alongside the Windows 8 OS on October 26. However, we still have many questions.

Pricing

The greatest mystery surrounds pricing. At the time of the Surface launch in June, Microsoft’s official position was that pricing would be in line with competitive devices. Early guesses pegged the Surface for Windows RT priced similar to an iPad starting at $499.

At the same time, we were hearing whispers of $199 tablets running the Android OS, like the Kindle Fire and the Google Nexus 7. Some wondered whether Microsoft would attempt to compete with this low end of the market.

Partners certainly had questions. Would Microsoft cut itself a break on the Windows RT license in order to give itself a price advantage? Acer’s CEO J.T. Wang expressed his frustration with the possibility of a $199 tablet and asked the software giant to reconsider. Hewlett-Packard and Toshiba both canceled plans to produce Windows RT tablets.

Now, we have confirmation of a $199 Kindle Fire HD, the Nexus 7 appears to have been well-received at that price point, and the lack of denial from Microsoft makes it seem likely that it will come in low with its initial pricing for Surface for Windows RT.

Usability

Microsoft has kept these devices under wraps, providing journalists few opportunities to handle them and test their comfort and usability in both tablet and laptop configurations. At this point, we cannot evaluate where the functionality places these slates in comparison to others on the market.

Microsoft will eventually have to address these questions and clear up any confusion to ensure a successful launch. What do you think? Will we see $199 Surface RT slates this fall? How late will Microsoft wait for the big reveal?

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