One of the most anticipated products to come from Microsoft in many years is the Surface tablets the software giant has been talking up. Microsoft has caught more than a little heat over the Surface tablets from its partners because they will be directly competing in the hardware market against Microsoft. The indication has been that Surface tablets will launch alongside Windows 8 in October.
The indication has now been confirmed with Microsoft making it clear in its annual report that Surface tablets would land alongside Windows 8 on October 26. Microsoft's annual report stated, "The next version of our operating system, Windows 8, will be generally available on October 26, 2012. At that time, we will begin selling the Surface, a series of Microsoft-designed and manufactured hardware devices." That report was filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission within the last few days.
While Microsoft has stated in the past that Surface would land along with its new operating system, this is the first time that the launch date has been confirmed in writing. Microsoft has previously noted that the Intel-based Surface Pro versions of its tablet won't hit the market until 90 days after its Surface RT ARM tablets land on October 26. That would put the Pro versions of the tablet on the market around January, coinciding with CES.
Microsoft's SEC filing also notes that the company is planning to spend big on marketing Windows 8 and "associated services and devices" which would seemingly include Surface tablets. Microsoft warned in the filing that the marketing expenses could reduce its operating margins. Pricing on Surface tablets isn't clear at this point, but Microsoft has previously stated that Surface prices will be in line with comparable ARM tablets or Intel ultrabook PCs, hinting at a range of $500-$1000.