Sales booster: Microsoft offers free Touch or Type Cover keyboards with Surface RT

On the fence about buying a Microsoft(s msft) Surface RT tablet? A new incentive may help push you over the side, or at least that’s what Microsoft is hoping. Starting Friday and all throughout the month of June, Microsoft is offering a free Touch or Type Cover keyboard with the purchase of any Surface RT model in the U.S. and Canada either through Microsoft’s online store or participating retailers.

Surface RT starts at $499 without these attachable keyboard covers and a bundle with keyboard starts at $599. So this works out to be a $100 savings on the bundle.

I think that’s exactly what Microsoft is trying to accomplish with this limited offer: Reduce the net cost of Surface RT because at $599 with keyboard, it’s a bit pricey for what it offers. I only say that because an Intel(s intc) Atom powered Windows 8 tablet with similar battery life and without the RT restriction of running legacy Windows apps can be had for about the same price. Microsoft clearly knows this, and given that we haven’t seen evidence of Surface RT as a hot seller — some of Microsoft’s partners have even limited their participation in Windows RT — this deal is meant to move more hardware.

Surface RT Touch CoversDoes this make Surface RT more attractive? We all likely have different answers to that question, as well as reasons for that answer. For some, Surface RT is already meeting their needs while others find it too limiting.

I actually like the hardware very much: It’s well designed, works in various settings, is easy to carry around and provides solid battery life. But again, I can get most of that from a similarly priced Windows 8 tablet for $500 to $700. For me — and I suspect many of you — it comes down to the available applications for Windows RT. It’s been a while since I last checked, but with the new keyboard incentive, I plan to look again at the app catalog over the next 30 days.

Bear in mind that Microsoft is holding its annual developer event next month and some rumors suggest that new Surface devices could be introduced. Even if that doesn’t happen, I wouldn’t be surprised to see hardware refreshes for the Surface line within the next 3 to 6 months as there are newer chips and components available to improve the devices. If you want Surface RT now, however, this is a decent deal.