Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has all but poured cold water on a $199 price tag for the long-awaited Surface tablet, set to debut alongside Windows 8 next month.

In an interview with The Seattle Times, Ballmer hinted at the tablets pricing without going too overboard with detail. He said while Microsoft has a "very competitive product from the features perspective" with the forthcoming tablet, the software giant has yet to settle on a price for the Surface.

"If you look at the bulk of the PC market, it would run between, say, probably $300 to about $700 or $800," he said in the interview with the newspaper. "That's the sweet spot."

While that estimate pegs the tablet to be in-or-around the $500 price range, the chances of a price tag at the lower-end of the scale seems unlikely. The Microsoft boss hit out at lower-priced tablets, claiming that, "they do less," but noted that Apple's iPad may have set the benchmark for the price of the firm's tablet.

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