A tempest brewing over tablets

<b>week in review</b> Apple, Microsoft, Google, and even Best Buy ready products to storm consumers, while Softbank snaps up Sprint. Also: Windows 8 anxiety.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Steven Musil
3 min read
Microsoft is reportedly offering reservations for its Surface tablet.
Microsoft's Surface tablet Josh Lowensohn/CNET

Microsoft and Apple are at it again -- this time over tablets.

Four months after the company unveiled its Surface tablet, Microsoft has finally announced a price and date for the RT version of the device. After an apparent accidental self-out, Microsoft began taking preorders for the Windows RT version of Surface with an actual release date set on October 26 this year. On the same date, Microsoft's brick-and-mortar stores also will begin selling the device; however, preorders are only available online. $499 nets you the 32GB version only, while $599 gets you the 32GB version with a Touch Cover keyboard.

Hands-on with Microsoft's Surface tablet (pictures)

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•  At $499, is Microsoft's Surface tablet priced to move?
•  Look for 3M to 5M Surface tablets this quarter, report says
•  $499 Microsoft Surface preorders slip to three weeks
•  Windows chief rides Surface like a skateboard -- literally

Meanwhile, Apple just sent out invitations to a special event that it's holding on Tuesday, presumably to unveil the much-rumored smaller iPad model

. Since before its very first model of the iPad came out, Apple has been rumored to be working on a smaller version. But expectations that the company would double down on its iPad line have increased, especially after competitors like Amazon and Google began to put out smaller tablets that were a third of the price and brought in critical acclaim.
•  iPad Mini could hit stores November 2
•  iPad Mini will come in 24 flavors and two colors -- report
•  New Mac Minis said to join rumored iPad Mini debut

More headlines

Google set to launch $99 Nexus tablet this quarter, report says

The company's slate will come with a single-core processor, but won't be developed with help from Asus, according to Digitimes.
•  Google earnings leak early, fall way short, and stock plunges
•  Google offers low-budget ARM-based Chromebook
•  Best Buy's Insignia Flex tablet to get mid-$200 price tag

Softbank plans to take control of Sprint for $20.1 billion

Under a deal expected to close in mid-2013, the Japanese technology company will buy a 70 percent stake in Sprint and invest $8 billion in the U.S. carrier.
•  Japan's Softbank poised to supercharge Sprint network
•  Sprint nabs control of Clearwire through the back door

Even Microsoft's closest allies are nervous about Windows 8

Intel says PC makers are being cautious about building Windows 8 machines, which means this holiday season may not be so merry for Microsoft.
•  Windows 8 delivers the goods on benchmarks

Newly IDed 'MiniFlame' malware targets individuals for attack

A new malware variant related to the state-sponsored Flame and Gauss cyber-espionage tools can work on its own or team up with its brethren to conduct targeted surveillance.
•  FBI warns users of mobile malware

Foxconn admits to child labor law breach with underage intern hires

The company says that it investigated reports of underage interns at one of its facilities, and found that some were as young as 14 years of age.

Peeping inside Google's data centers (pictures)

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Google tries wowing the world with a look at its data centers

As part of an effort to build appreciation for how it actually runs online services like search, Google is showing off its massive computing resources.

Isis, yet another mobile-payment outfit, to launch trials Oct. 22

The venture, a partnership between Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and T-Mobile, said as many as 20 compatible handsets would be in the market by the end of the year.
•  At Square, Jack Dorsey said to preach external code of silence

Zynga sues former exec for 'wholesale theft' of data

The gaming company is going after its former general manager of CityVille, saying that he stole "sensitive and commercially valuable data" and left a "forensic trail of his wrongful conduct."
•  Kixeye chief: 'Zynga is burning to the ground'

Also of note
•  FCC allows cable operators to encrypt basic cable TV signals
•  Stanford Ovshinsky, 'Edison of our age,' dies at 89
•  Presidential debate memes: Binders of women, a job for Jeremy