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.

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