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Microsoft Surface tablet release date confirmed

We have less than three months to wait for Microsoft’s eagerly anticipated Surface tablet, after the company confirmed the product will launch on 26 October.

The move was announced in Microsoft’s annual report, which 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."

The tablet’s release in conjunction with the new OS was expected, and marks an important autumn for the tech-giant with its Windows Phone 8 mobile platform also expected around October.

Today’s announcement applies to just one of the two Surface tablets that will hit our shelves. While a more powerful version using an Intel Core i5 chip is expected in early 2013, the 26 October will bring us the consumer-focused tablet using ARM-based chips and an Nvidia Tegra processor - the first PC that is Microsoft-branded.

Prices have yet to be confirmed, but potential buyers will be relieved that a Swedish retailer listing the 32GB edition at a sky-high £650 was not following Microsoft’s pricing structure, which we can expect to be substantially lower.

The Surface’s unveiling created quite a buzz with official images like the above presenting the tablet as a light-weight desktop alternative; the device sporting a kickstand propping it up in front of a sleek exterior keyboard.

But it remains to be seen if Microsoft’s bold tablet venture will succeed. Despite the fanfare that greeted the Surface announcement, some are sceptical over the product's place in the market.