It’s going to be quite a Christmas for the tablet market, with several high-profile devices battling for attention. Yesterday brought some news from Microsoft on its Surface tablet, which will run the Windows 8 OS, and some semi-news (well, an invitation to some news) from Apple about its long-rumoured iPad Mini.

Microsoft confirmed the launch pricing for Surface, which will start at $499 in the US for a 32GB model, rising to $699 for a 64GB version with a Touch Cover thrown in. The device goes on sale on 26 October in eight countries, including the US and UK. It’s one of the lead devices for Microsoft’s new Xbox Music service too.

Meanwhile, Apple has invited journalists to a media event on 23 October, with the emailed invite using a similar design to the invite to the original iPad’s launch in early 2010, and the message “We’ve got a little more to show you”. Cue more raging speculation about the company’s plans for a smaller 7.85-inch iPad, which is likely to go on sale in early November.

The devices will be duking it out with Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD and Google’s Nexus 7, as well as a few other Android tablets, and a number of Windows 8 models. Analysts had predicted up to 110m tablet sales in 2012, but the competition may well bump up that number by the time December is done.

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