Microsoft is planning to produce between 3 million and 5 million units of its Surface tablet computer in the fourth quarter, the first quarter of the product's availability, according to a published report.
Mass production of the Surface tablet began earlier this month, according to a story in The Wall Street Journal, and the large production volume is an indication that Microsoft is serious about its move into the tablet market.
The Surface for Windows RT tablet, based on an ARM microprocessor, is scheduled to begin shipping Oct. 26, the same day Microsoft begins shipping the long-awaited Windows 8 operating system. An Intel-based tablet running Windows 8 Pro is slated to begin shipping in January.
Tuesday Microsoft began taking preorders for Surface tablets and for the first time disclosed the product's pricing: $499 for an entry-level device with 32 GB of storage, up to $699 for a tablet with 64 GB of storage and a Surface Touch Cover keyboard.
The Wall Street Journal story said Microsoft's order for the Surface tablet is equivalent to orders placed to manufacturers for Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets and Google's Nexus 7 tablets.
In addition, other component suppliers were quoted as saying they have orders to produce more than 10 million units of a 7.85-inch iPad tablet. That product, the iPad Mini, is widely expected to be unveiled at an Apple event Oct. 23.
PUBLISHED OCT. 17, 2012