updated 07:22 am EDT, Wed October 17, 2012
Microsoft puts the Surface tablet with Windows RT up for pre-order
Microsoft's eagerly anticipated Surface tablet is now up for pre-order in eight countries. The first version up for the taking runs Windows RT on an ARM-based Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz. Prices start at $499 for a 32GB model without the vaunted Touch Cover, with a shipping date of October 26.
Importantly, the pricing of the Surface matches the starting price of the 'new iPad,' although the Apple offering comes with with only 16GB of storage. An iPad with 32GB of storage costs $100 more; however, purchasing the Touch Cover bundle will take the Surface to the same price point. Microsoft is also selling a 64GB model with Touch Cover for $699.Users who opt to buy the Touch Cover separately at a later time will pay $119 for it, while an additional tactile Type Cover is also offered for $129.
Released nearly three years after Apple launched the revolutionary iPad, the Microsoft Surface will enter the redefined tablet market as an underdog. Similarly late to the revolutionized smartphone market dominated by Apple's iOS and Google's Android OS, Microsoft's Windows Phone OS has struggled to gain significant market traction. However, Microsoft is gambling on tablet users wanting a more complete PC experience, with the ability to multitask with multiple app windows open among its additional capabilities.
Windows RT tablets will also come pre-installed with a beta version of Office for Windows RT, which will be updated to a completed version when it is ready. Office remains a key selling point for Microsoft and it hopes to attract users with this capability built-in out of the box. Although the Apple does not offer a keyboard for its iPad, a multitude of third-party solutions are available on the market, should users want keyboard input.
A Windows 8 Pro version that supports legacy Windows applications on Intel's x86 micro-architecture is also expected to be made available soon. Windows 8 officially launches on October 26. It's blend of a touchscreen UI with a traditional desktop operating system with full folder system is controversial, but it represents Microsoft's definition of PC-based tablet and touch-based computing moving forward.
The Microsoft Windows RT-based Surface tablet is available for pre-order through Microsoft's online stores in the U.S., the U.K (from Ł399), Germany (from €479), France (from €489), Canada (from $519), and Australia (from $559).