Surface: Microsoft reveals price tag for its Windows 8 tablet

Can the Windows 8-powered Microsoft Surface tablet compete with the Apple iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab line? 

The Microsoft Surface tablet.

The Microsoft Surface is a go. 

Beginning today, people can pre-order the Windows 8 tablet, which is being positioned as a high-powered alternative to the Apple iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab. The Surface is available at three price points: $699 for a 64 GB model with a "Touch Cover" (a case plus keyboard, basically); $599 for a 32 GB model with a Touch Cover; and $499 for a 32 GB model without a Touch Cover. 

Available colors include Red, Black, Cyan, and Magenta. Pre-orders are currently expected to ship by Oct. 26; you can order a device here

So let's get down to it: How seriously should you consider buying a Microsoft Surface? 

Well, it's worth noting that as of late this summer, Apple owned a whopping 69 percent of the tablet market, with Samsung (the maker of the Galaxy Tab line) in a distant second and Amazon (maker of the Kindle Fire line) in an even more distant third. With the release of the iPad Mini – which is widely expected to launch late this month or early next – Apple could see its lead grow even larger. 

Apple has the momentum and the apps (more than a quarter of a million iPad-specific apps are currently available in the iTunes Store). By comparison, Microsoft is starting from scratch – and since the Surface prices line up more or less with the iPad prices (the iPad starts at $499, too), it's going to take a lot for consumers to switch from the entrenched device (the iPad) to the unproven up-and-comer (the Surface). 

Perhaps not surprisingly, analysts are already lowering expectations for Microsoft's tablet, eWeek reports today. 

In related news, Brian White, an analyst at Topeka Capital, recently returned from a trip to Asia, and he reports that the "PC industry is headed for a muted December quarter." In a note obtained by Business Insider, White said the "the sentiment around Windows 8 was overwhelmingly negative during our trip as the supply chain is experiencing little life ahead of the Oct. 26 launch." 

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