updated 05:56 pm EDT, Wed October 17, 2012
32GB model without cover now shipping in three weeks
Microsoft's Surface RT tablet may only have become available for preorder in the last 24 hours, but that hasn't stopped at least one model from apparently selling out. The low-end model of the Surface RT is now shown on Microsoft's product page as being available for preorder with shipment "within three weeks," indicating that Microsoft has run out of supply of the device. The other two higher-priced models are still available for delivery by October 26.
The $499 version ships without the capacitive Touch Cover, meaning that purchasers of that model will miss out on one of Microsoft's primary selling points for the device. The Touch Cover and the physical key-based Type Cover are available as separate purchases.
What the new shipping figures mean in terms of overall sales for the device is unclear, as the number of units Microsoft reserved for the baseline model is unknown. Industry analysts have estimated that Microsoft will produce between three and five million Surface units, though that figure includes both Surface RT and Surface Pro models.
Microsoft has been positioning the Surface tablets as a computing option for the more productivity-minded. The devices feature multiple ports, allowing it to connect to external displays and assorted USB peripherals. With 32GB of internal storage, the low-end Surface RT has twice the space of a comparably priced 2012 iPad, and that space can be expanded with a microSDXC card. It also comes pre-loaded with a preview edition of Microsoft Office for Windows RT, with an update to a final version of the software to be delivered through an update when it is complete.
The Surface RT works solely with apps downloaded from Microsoft's Windows Store, and it does not run the full version of Windows 8. Microsoft has, though, expressed confidence that the Windows 8 store will hold more than 100,000 apps by February of next year.