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Microsoft Surface out on 26 October, same day as Windows 8

Microsoft has confirmed the release date for its peculiar Windows 8 tablet.

Microsoft has confirmed the release date for its own-brand Surface tablet, with the RT version due to hit shelves on 26 October, the same day as Windows 8.

"The next version of our operating system, Windows 8, will be generally available on October 26, 2012," the company behind Clippy said. "At that time, we will begin selling the Surface, a series of Microsoft-designed and manufactured hardware devices."

That means it'll be about three months before we see the quirky tablet -- which features a fold out keyboard and a 10.6-inch display -- squaring up to the likes of the iPad and the stonking Google Nexus 7.

I wouldn't be surprised if Surface was released simultaneously in the US and UK, but I've contacted Microsoft to check the release date in our green and pleasant land, and I'll let you know if I hear anything.

Only the Windows RT version will be available on the 26th, CNET reports, with the more capable (and doubtless much more expensive) Intel-powered Surface Pro expected to arrive 90 days later.

While the Surface Pro boasts a more comprehensive version of Windows, it's the RT version that I'll be keeping a close eye on -- it's the slate that will show off the tablet-specific version of Windows 8, and is the device that wants to knock Apple off its perch.

It's also likely be much cheaper. I'd be shocked if it cost more than the iPad, although recent reports suggest the Surface could be much pricier than previously anticipated.

While the cost remains a mystery, one thing's for sure -- Microsoft has a huge battle ahead if it wants to prove itself in the world of tablets. Think Agincourt plus Waterloo, multiplied by Hastings and Helm's Deep.

Can Microsoft possibly succeed? How much would you pay for the privilege of owning the Surface? Let me know in the comments or on our Facebook wall.