It pains me to write this, because it shouldn’t even be necessary. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to deal with unfounded rumors like Surface pricing or obviously biased quotes like the one from Valve CEO Gabe Newell. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and these two “stories” have been widely reported over the last few days. When they initially showed up online, I immediately ignored them. Unfortunately, with so many inaccurate reports and only a few corrections, it has became necessary to help clear the air.
We’ll start with the lesser of the two offences. At the Casual Connect conference this week, Gabe Newell, the CEO of Valve, was quoted saying that “Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space.” Newell is entitled to his opinion, but he’s also motivated by the fact that his company runs the popular gaming service known as Steam. In many ways, the new Windows Store included with Windows 8 threatens Steam’s hold on the PC gaming market, especially when it comes to smaller titles designed for tablets. In fact, ARM-based Windows 8 tablets can’t even run Steam due to restrictions surrounding desktop apps.
Strangely, as Ed Bott points out, most people seem to have missed the part where Newell says that “We’ve been a free rider, and we’ve been able to benefit from everything that went into PCs and the internet. And we have to continue to figure out how there will be open platforms.” So of course Windows 8 is a catastrophe… for Valve. For everyone else, it could very well be a vast improvement. If you don’t like the Metro-style interface, you can simply spend most your time on the Windows desktop.
The second – and much worse – story comes courtesy of WPCentral, which noticed a product listing for the Microsoft Surface on Webhallen, a Swedish store, and immediately jumped to the conclusion that the 32GB Surface will cost more than $1,000, with the Surface Pro nearly double that. The problem here is that while we have no idea when the Surface will be available, it certainly won’t happen before the launch of Windows 8, which is scheduled for October 26 – three months from today. I’d venture to say that even Microsoft doesn’t know exactly how much Surface will cost – although it probably has a goal – let alone Webhallen. Sadly, the internet picked this up as fact and promptly claimed that Surface was too expensive and D.O.A.
Thankfully, Techie Buzz has set the story straight with an official response from Webhallen:
Our customers are very interested in pre-ordering these products, so we have set a high preliminary pricing for the lineup so that they may be able to pre-order them.
Just to clarify, we have not recieved [sic] any pricing from Microsoft regarding MRSP or purchasing net cost, and any people who have booked the Surface at this high price will of course have their order adjusted before any product is shipped. So we’re not going to overcharge anyone for being an early adopter.
So no, the cheapest Microsoft Surface tablet will not cost more than a grand. Reporting on pricing from small websites months before a product launches is always dangerous. It’s very similar to how people are often tripped up by the tentative release dates Amazon so often uses. For now, you can rest assured that Surface will be priced competitively against similar tablets, just as Microsoft has said from the beginning.