Microsoft is said to be planning to ratchet up its rivalry with Apple by introducing its own tablet device at a press event scheduled for next week, according to a report from TheWrap.

The event will see a “major Microsoft announcement” and we’ve heard speculation that it could be one of many possible stories unveiled, from the $1 billion plus acquisition of Yammer, to a partnership with RIM and Microsoft’s tablet strategy. TheWrap says that it is the latter, and a Microsoft-built iPad-rival is coming, according to “an individual with knowledge of the company”.

The new device could well be built on Windows RT, one of Microsoft’s new Windows 8 platforms, which is designed to keep ARM-powered PCs and tablets ‘thin and light’.

While details are still emerge about RT-powered devices, reports are already suggesting that cost may be an issue. The company is said to be planning to charge $85 for inbuilt support for Office, and additional fee could bump the cost of devices up and make them more expensive than their equivalents in Apple’s iPad family.

Given that Apple’s tablets dominate the sales in the space, price is an important battle ground for any would-be contender, and failing to at least match the iPad could count against Microsoft’s products.

More details will likely emerge, and we’ll keep you posted with them and their significance for Microsoft and the industry.

Image: Flickr / ToddABishop