We've been hearing about the Surface for the better part of six months, but in all that time Microsoft has kept secret what might be the tablet's most important feature: its price. After revealing the price earlier today, the device goes up for pre-order (starting at 12PM ET), so the secret's out: you can buy a Windows RT-powered Surface starting at $499. They ship by October 26th. Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky referred to the desire to match "our competitor" when asked about the price at an event in Redmond this week, so it's no accident that the 10.6-inch Surface equals the price of the iPad.

Unfortunately, the introductory price doesn't include the cool Touch Cover case — that bundle costs $599. The cheapest model does include 32GB of storage, which technically makes the tablet cheaper than Apple's device; the 32GB iPad costs $599. There's also a 64GB Surface model, but it's only sold with the Touch Cover and costs $699. The Touch Cover itself costs $119, and the tactile Type Cover is $129. Everything is available for pre-order now from Microsoft's website, and will be available in Microsoft Stores and online in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and the United States starting October 26th.

$499 buys a Surface, but no Touch Cover

Not surprisingly, the Surface will be in the spotlight in Microsoft Stores — we spent some time at Microsoft's "Store Zero" in Redmond, and the Surface is everywhere. It'll be on a display as soon as you walk in the door, lines the walls along with customer service stations to help people set up and learn the device, and occupies an enormous amount of floor space as well. Add that to the ad campaign that began last night, and we're betting it's going to be hard to avoid Surface for the next few weeks.

Update: The US Microsoft Store seems to have sold out of its first shipment of the $499 model, or else there's been some sort of delay. It now lists the cheapest $499 model (without Touch Cover) as shipping within three weeks. Originally, it would ship by October 26th.

Tom Warren contributed to this article.

  • United States - $499 for 32GB no cover, $599 with Touch Cover, $699 for 64GB with a Touch Cover
  • United Kingdom - £399 for 32GB no cover, £479 with Touch Cover, £559 for 64GB with a Touch Cover
  • Germany - €479 for 32GB no cover, €579 with Touch Cover, €679 for 64GB with a Touch Cover
  • France - €489 for 32GB no cover, €589 with Touch Cover, €694 for 64GB with a Touch Cover
  • Canada - $519 for 32GB no cover, $619 with Touch Cover, $719 for 64GB with a Touch Cover
  • Australia - $559 for 32GB no cover, $679 with Touch Cover, $789 for 64GB with a Touch Cover