It's been since pulled, but a listing on the Microsoft Store earlier this morning showed that Surface RT, the company's self-made, keyboard-covered Windows RT tablet, will be available for preorder today, starting at $500 for a 32GB model. That price seems right to make a major impact.
That pricing puts the entry-level Surface at a hundred bucks cheaper than a retina display iPad, though it makes up the ground entirely if you add on that fancy keyboard cover. The 64GB model will cost $600, or $700 with the keyboard. Both will be in stores—or in your mailbox, if you preorder—on October 26th. There's no word yet on the more PC-like Windows Surface, which is expected to be a few months behind RT (the difference between RT and full Windows 8 is like that between iOS and OS X).
While Microsoft has until this point been guarded about price, it's also insisted that Surface will be competitive with what's out there. In fact, it's more than. It's not clear that Microsoft's going to make any money selling a 10.6-inch, 1.5-lb., 32GB tablet with a built-in kickstand and a fully integrated Windows experience for $500. But all it really cares about right now—like Amazon, like Google, is getting its platform on its feet. The cut-rate prices that flow from that are a huge opportunity for consumers; that is, assuming this thing works worth a damn.