Microsoft orders up to five million Surface tablets

Microsoft has allegedly placed orders for component suppliers to manufacture a very large volume of Surface tablets in the final quarter of 2012, as it attempts to expand its business, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

According to suppliers in Asia, Microsoft requires between three million and five million of the tablets for the period in question, which is similar to the figure ordered by Google for its Nexus 7 and by Amazon for its Kindle Fire device.

If the reports prove true, this can be seen as a real statement of intent from the Redmond, Washington-based company, which will be debuting its first ever self-produced device. The Surface will go into direct competition with Apple's extant iPads, as well as the forthcoming iPad Mini and the Nexus and Kindle mentioned above.

The Surface is set to launch alongside Windows 8 on 26 October, and its first television commercial was broadcast in the US last night.

Mass production of the tablet is believed to have begun earlier this month.

The same component suppliers also claimed to have received orders to produce in excess of 10 million units of the iPad Mini for this quarter. The 7.85in tablet is expected to be unveiled at an event on 23 October.