Earlier this summer Microsoft did the somewhat unexpected and announced first party Windows RT and Windows 8 tablet hardware under the Surface brand. Microsoft wanted to have flagship devices that could embody what Windows RT and Windows 8 were about, and rather than work with a single OEM to deliver that Microsoft took matters into its own hands. Surface for Windows RT is a 10.6-inch NVIDIA Tegra 3 based tablet, while the 10.6-inch Surface for Windows 8 Pro will feature an Intel Ivy Bridge processor. Surface RT is launching alongside Windows 8 on October 26, while Surface Pro will follow approximately three months later.

Other than an intense focus on build quality, one of the stand out features of the Surface tablets is the first party covers that integrate very thin keyboards/trackpads. The end result is something that promises to have all of the elegance of Apple’s Smart Covers with the functionality of ASUS’ Transformer dock. The touch cover is only 3.2mm thick and features a pressure sensitive keyboard, while the 5.5mm type cover features a traditional, shallow depth keyboard. Microsoft’s goal with both of these covers is to bring productivity to its Surface tablets.

All of these details thus far were announced at Microsoft’s special event in June. What’s new today are pricing and availability details. Surface RT will be available starting at $499 for the 32GB model (integrated eMMC) preloaded with Office 2013 Home & Student Edition preview. For another $100 you can get a special Surface RT bundle that includes a black Touch Cover. Colored touch covers are available separately for $119 (black, white, cyan, magenta and red). The Type Cover is available separately, in black only, for $129. Both types of covers are powered by the Surface unit itself.

For $699 Microsoft is offering a 64GB Surface RT with a bundled black Touch Cover. There is no 64GB SKU without a Touch Cover. All Surface RT tablets come preloaded with Office 2013 Home & Student Edition, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. The Office 2013 preload is of the current preview build of the software with a free upgrade to final software when it’s available.

The Surface RT tablet bundles will only be available for sale through Microsoft.com and Microsoft Stores. Other online e-tailers and brick and mortar retailers will not be carrying Surface. Although Microsoft’s reasoning behind the decision to sell direct only isn’t public, it likely has to do with cutting out retailer margins from the final device price. There’s also the benefit of controlling the buying experience. Apple has done this for years with its products, so it’s no surprise to see Microsoft doing the same. Going forward we may see even more PC OEMs opt for the online or Microsoft store only policy for sales unless traditional retailers adjust their demands for margins.

Surface RT tablets will be available on October 26th, with preorders starting today at surface.com at 9AM Pacific. Surface will be available in the US, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, the UK, China and Hong Kong.

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  • JNo - Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - link

    Exactly.

    Now if they could just bring out a non-RT version of Surface with full Windows 8....

    I have never been productive on a table - they are just for fun games and media consumption in my opinion.

    Now if/when they have a full x86 O/S, that might finally change...
    Reply
  • ricardodawkins - Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - link

    Acer Iconia W510 runs those millions Windows applications and it's the same price as the 32GB Surface. Reply
  • amdwilliam1985 - Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - link

    Guess how many people I know of are dying to get that "real" office app. I hope Windows RT are flash friendly too. Even my gf is tire of her iPad 2(formerly my iPad 2), it does not do office or flash, can't download and watch any stuff that she normally does on her laptop. Guess what she's using most of the time on her iPad 2? Youtube. Because everything else is useless(to her).

    Yea, iPad has thousands of apps, but most of them are point-less and useless. If Microsoft is smart, then they should never release office app to iOS or Android(even though I own many Android devices).
    Reply
  • guidryp - Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - link

    Why wouldn't you get the Acer W510 instead?

    For the same price, it can also run actual Windows applications, not just Metro apps.
    Reply
  • steven75 - Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - link

    Flash?

    209 called and is wondering when you'll be home.
    Reply
  • ricardodawkins - Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - link

    209? wow..ancient civilizations were more advanced than we thought Reply
  • kmmatney - Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - link

    There are "office" apps for the iPad. Just go to the productivity section of the App store, and take your pick among many Apps. There are plenty of free ones as well. Reply
  • kmmatney - Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - link

    There are already several iPad apps that let you edit/create Office docs and spreadsheets, so that's not something new. I read Excel spreadsheets and Word docs on my iPad fairly often, as email attachments. Even though I can, I've never had the desire to actually create documents - tablets are still consumption decives for most people. Reply
  • Jaybus - Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - link

    Exactly. Which is why predictions of the demise of the PC/laptop are very premature. That consumed content has to come from somewhere, and almost nothing is ever created on a tablet. Until tablets are useful for document/content creation they will not be replacing PCs and laptops. I, and several of my colleagues, have tried using iPads. Their small size and weight are attractive, but we all ended up giving them to our wives or kids and going back to laptops, because the iPads are next to useless for business use.

    Maybe the Surface Pro with full Win8 will be usable, particularly with the "cover" that contains an integrated keyboard and turns it into a small light laptop, Time will tell.
    Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - link

    ...and what do they do with that screen resolution? (Not sure of the Android device) The iPad slaps you across the face and increases the DPI so you m ight as well drop down to a 1080p screen. Resolution on tablets isn't as simple as x or y Reply

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