Microsoft Surface: Will you 'click in' for $120 extra?

Microsoft Surface: Will you 'click in' for $120 extra?

Summary: Microsoft's Surface RT pricing and pre-order information has finally gone public. The keyboard/cover pricing is what I've really been waiting to see.


Ever since we all caught our first glimpses of the Microsoft Surface PCs/tablets, the biggest draw for me were the touch and type covers.


Without these, the Surface looked like just any other ARM- or Intel-based Windows tablet. But the covers -- the flat touch ones and the raised-key type one -- are what made the Surface much more interesting. The covers are what seemed like they'd help Microsoft blur the lines between tablets and PCs and make the company's claims that "tablets are PCs" less far-fetched.

On October 16, Microsoft at long last is going public with the pricing and pre-orders for the Surface RT, the first of its Surface-branded products. "Limited" pre-orders for Surface RT start at 9 am PT/12 noon ET today at Surface RTs also will be available for sale, as expected, in Microsoft's brick-and-mortar and 34 holiday pop-up stores starting October 26. They'll also be available for sale online in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and the United States. (Whether this means for sale by other online outlets in addition to Microsoft's own sites is still unknown.)

While most Microsoft watchers will no doubt focus on the prices of the base devices themselves -- ranging from a 32GB, keyboard-free version at $499, to a 64GB one bundled with a black touch cover for $699 -- I was and am far more interested in the cover/keyboard pricing.

We haven't known for sure, until today, whether Microsoft planned to charge extra for the touch and type covers. The final word is that the keyboards/covers cost extra, unless you buy the aforementioned 64GB bundled with a black touch cover.

Available as of October 26 are five touch covers in a choice of black, white, magenta, cyan and red, priced at $119.99 each. The one and only type cover, which is targeted at users who prefer a more "traditional" typing experience, comes in black only and is $129.99.

I haven't been expecting Microsoft to try to be the low-cost player in the Windows tablet space, and today's pricing reinforces the fact that this isn't Redmond's intention, either. Given how much good iPad cases and add-on keyboards cost, I'm OK with the $120 to $130 extra Microsoft is charging for the touch/type covers. It seems like a reasonable price. I only wish the type keyboard came in multiple colors, too, as I'm betting that's the one I'll prefer. 

Microsoft's Surface catch phrase, "Click In," refers to the sound users will hear when attaching the keyboards to the hinge on the Surface devices, and to a lesser extent, to the sound the built-in kickstand makes when it's locked and ready for use. Even though you can use the Surface in keyboard-less, touch-only mode, the message is it's meant to be used with the keyboard, which is always with you, as it's built into the cover.

I don't see the assumed inclusion of a keyboard as a weakness. Microsoft's positioning is that not just the coming Intel-based Surface Pros, but also the Surface RTs are meant for both the office and home. Surface RTs are not designed to be consumption-only or consumption-first PCs/tablets. That said, few businesses probably will be snapping these up until more business-focused apps are available in the Windows Store and Microsoft's planned management infrastructure for these devices is in place, which is expected in Q1 2013.

I haven't yet had any hands-on time with the Surface RT, so I can't yet say I'm totally sold. But for me, the pricing isn't a deal breaker. What about you?

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Tablets, PCs


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • yep

    $120 sounds right, I am ordering a cyan keyboard to match my Lumia!
    • Just ordered

      32GB with the touch cover and a 32GB with the Type cover. If the speed of the Australian website is any indication, they're getting a lot of pre-ordering. The HDMI cable was already out of stock.

      The 32G WiFi iPad start at $649 in Oz, so to be able get a real WIndows 32G computer for $559 (inc GST) is perfect and around $679 and I get the keyboard cover.

      So a toy or a tool for the same price ;-)
  • It's more than I had expected

    I thought that the the base unit would be a little more agressively priced; I thought that they might want to "take the world by storm" with some lower prices.

    I also thought the touch cover would be less than $100 (like $65 or $85) and the type cover would be around $100. I'm surprised that there is only a $10 difference in the price of the two covers.
    • Prices will probably drop in a few weeks...

      My guess is that prices will drop in a few weeks... just like the iPad & other tablets do as Christmas approaches...

      They're probably just trying to earn every dollar they can off early adopters like me. lol
      • Re: Prices will probably drop in a few weeks...

        Yeah, to "fire sale" levels. Just like they did for the Kin.
    • Pricey

      It's pricey, but then again they also likely don't want to discourage OEMs too much; by sticking to the high ground they set the standard high, and leave room for all kinds of manufacturers in China to scrap for the lower end.
      Han CNX
  • Price is good

    32GB ipad 599. Surface RT is $100 less. I wish it has 16GB so people have more choices. I am sure will pick one up next friday in store.
    • OS Hard-drive space....

      Windows RT probably takes up too much hard-drive space to make 16GB an option.
      • OEM 16GB ?

        That may be true. Anyone knows how much space left after WinRT installed? I think the real reason is MS want to give OEM the low-end option , otherwise how OEM like ACER, ASUS can compete with MS Surface.
      • USB2 and SD extension

        It is possible to use USB2 and SD cards to increase the media storage so the 32GB should not be very limiting.
        • storage expansion

          How you know it is possible to use the SD and USB interfaces for storage expansion?
          • Storage Expansion

            Add in a SD card and use it as another drive. Store your data on it. You can get 35 Gb mini SD cards.
      • That would be unfortunate

        In my case with those prices I would be better off with an iPad vs a Surface as I'm already invested in the iOS platform...
        • I'm invested in the iOS platform

          I've spent hundreds of dollars on iOS apps (Navigon itself was about $50).

          I'm switching. I'll be better off with a Surface than with my frustrating iPad.

          Don't let vendor lock-in keep you from the superior solution. I'm not. I will not reward Apple for locking me in.
          • Deep pockets - very DEEP pockets.

            That piece of plastic is rather expensive. That's all I'm going to say. Hopefully no one posts cost objections for other platform adapters or accessories. Grin

            But you still need to wait three more months until the PRO version is released. Maybe by then, the keyboard price might come down.
          • How is the Surface RT setup better than Transformer Pad Infinity?

            It's not better. The ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity beats this setup hands down. It has a better and brighter screen and the keyboard dock does a lot more and it's a better design.
          • The Transformer is a nice tablet

            If it ran Windows 8 or RT, it would be a lot cooler. The Transformer gives you some extra battery for a heavier keyboard. Some people will like that. There will be some RT tablets like that, though maybe not the 1920x1200 screen. Do I need a full HD tablet at this point? I'm not sure I do.
          • You already know the answer to your question.

            C'mon don't ignore it...You know Android is pathetic from top to bottom.
          • Well said

            I didn't reward Apple at all. I've been holding out since 2010 and finally...finally I will have the Tablet I've been waiting for. As much as I'd like the Pro version I feel the RT will suit my needs. It has Office, Mail, Social Networking apps and the Windows Store which is growing and will only grow faster as PCs hit the market with Windows 8.
      • Re: Windows RT probably takes up too much hard-drive space to make 16GB an

        Which is odd, considering this is trying desperately to be an Android-killer. Yet Android is sufficiently small that a 16GB phone or tablet still has about 13GB free for the user's stuff.

        Typical Microsoft bloat, I guess. They couldn't make a compact, efficient OS if their lives depended on it.