Surface Tension: will Microsoft's new tablet really be cheap?

Tablet wars, Windows Phone 9 and a super-cheap Surface

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Has Microsoft gone mad? That's what this week's top tech rumour suggests: Microsoft apparently plans to sell the Windows RT version of its Surface tablet for thirty-two pence.

Well, $199, but that's pretty much the same thing: that's the same price as a Nexus 7, which costs considerably less to make and which Google isn't making money from.

Our very own Gary Marshall isn't convinced. "If Surface is as good as it appears to be, it'll sell even at iPad-esque prices; it doesn't need a Poundstretchers price to make it competitive," he writes, before reaching for his tinfoil hat.

"I'm beginning to wonder if the low price thing is actually a smear campaign by Microsoft's aggrieved OEM partners. 'Let's tell everyone the Surface is $199!' they cackle. 'Then when Microsoft says it's $399, everybody will be like OMG Micro$oft sucks!!!!! and we'll win the internets!'" Our money's on a price tag of $399. We'll see you down at Paddy Power.

Apple to spoil the Windows 8 party?

The Surface is, of course, Microsoft's answer to the iPad - and it looks like Apple's about to spring a brand new one on us this Autumn.

iPad mini rumours are starting to fly thick and fast, and it looks like it might not be the scaled down iPad most people expect: this week, a number of leaks appeared to confirm our earlier report that the iPad Mini will be Apple's thinnest tablet yet. John Gruber of Daring Fireball fame reckons it might not be called the iPad mini at all, but the iPad Air.

If iPad leaks are starting to trickle, iPhone 5 ones are coming at us in torrents: new rumours are appearing so quickly that updating our round-up and our in-depth video showing exciting 3D renders, concept art and informed speculation is becoming a full-time job.

Here's the executive summary: 12 September, bigger screen, smaller dock, thinner body, Samsung clone following shortly afterwards.

We kid! We kid! Samsung doesn't copy Apple - Apple copied it, because it invented the iPad first. Oh yes. That's the latest claim in the ongoing and highly amusing Apple vs Samsung case, and the presiding judge has ordered the two tech firms to kiss and make up. That's even less likely than a $199 Surface, we reckon, and we'll be amazed if the case doesn't end up in front of a jury.

Nok Nok. Anyone there?

One firm that definitely hasn't been copying Apple is Nokia, whose Lumia phones exist in a field of their own. Unfortunately it's not a very busy field, and Nokia will be hoping that its forthcoming Windows Phone 8 handset(s) generate some sales and steal some of Apple's thunder.

The launch date is part of that: it's on September 5, one week before Apple shows off the new iPhone. We expect the first Nokia handset with Windows Phone 8 to be the intriguingly named Nokia Phi.

Windows Phone 8 should be a big deal: it's based on the kernel of Windows 8, which should make it much easier for developers to create apps for the entire Windows and Windows Phone family.

Gaming giant EA is definitely interested: while other developers express concern about Windows 8 and its awfully named Xbox Windows plans, EA couldn't be happier with Windows and Windows Phone.

Windows Phone 8 is ace, but could it be better? Mary Branscombe says yes, and she's put together a list of the nine things Windows Phone 9 really needs. One of the biggest things is openness: while we understand the need for secrecy,

"Microsoft isn't Apple, and secrecy that works for Apple won't work when it's time to get app developers onboard. If Windows Phone 9 is going to keep the excitement of Windows Phone 8 going, get that started sooner – because there won't be the hoopla of Surface and Windows 8 launching next year."