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Microsoft is two weeks away from the Oct. 26 debut of Windows 8 and the new Microsoft Surface tablet, but it looks like the tech world will be buzzing about a different product just days before the Redmond company’s big launch.

Citing unnamed people familiar with Apple’s plans, AllThingsD reports this morning that Apple will unveil the smaller version of the iPad on Oct. 23 an an invitation-only event. The rumored device would be more directly competitive with Amazon’s 7-inch Kindle Fire than with the larger Microsoft Surface, which is more of an alternative to the original iPad. But limited consumer budgets mean that every high-profile tablet is competing with all the others these days.

Speaking of Microsoft Surface, there are still no details on pricing and packaging from the company, apart from Microsoft’s original statement that prices for Surface for Windows RT (ARM) and Windows 8 Pro (x86) will be competitive “with a comparable ARM tablet or Intel Ultrabook-class PC.”

Separately, Microsoft this morning announced that Windows 8 Pro is available for preorder starting today for $70, for people looking to upgrade on their existing machines using physical media (vs. downloading it starting on Oct. 26 for $40). A variety of Windows 8 PCs are also available for preorder starting today.

Stay tuned, the next couple of weeks promise to be very interesting.

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