Microsoft launches Surface RT tablet for $499, cover extra

Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet is available for online pre-orders with a starting price of $499 with delivery expected on Oct. 26. The starting price includes a 32 GB tablet running Windows RT(s MSFT), a version specifically made for tablets powered by smartphone chips. Microsoft’s innovative thin Touch Cover keypad option adds another $119 to the price if purchased separately.

The Verge noticed thew new tablet appear in Microsoft’s online store on Tuesday morning, which shows an additional option of a 64 GB model including a Touch Cover that costs $699, but that model is not in stock. Nor is the $599 model with 32 GB and included Touch Cover.

Surface RT standSurface RT has a 10.6-inch ClearType HD screen with five-point multi-touch and resolution of 1366 x 768. Nvidia’s(s nvda)¬†NVIDIA T30 chip, paired with 2 GB of system memory, powers the device, which weighs under 1.5 pounds. Microsoft says that battery life should be around the eight hour mark on a single charge.

The Surface RT is unique in a few respects and represents a new strategy for the company. This is the first Microsoft-designed computer that the company is selling; something that Microsoft’s hardware partners were caught unaware of in advance. This edition of Windows 8, called Windows RT, also runs on ARM-based chips that typically power smartphones and consumer tablets. With Windows RT, as well as the Surface device that it designed, Microsoft hopes to slow down Apple’s iPad(s aapl)¬†momentum, which currently has a majority share of the overall tablet market.

What do you think of these prices for a Surface RT tablet? Take our reader poll here.