Microsoft Surface: On Sale October 26, $499 and Up (It’s Official)

For months tech experts have speculated about pricing and specifications for Microsoft’s upcoming Surface tablet computer. Now, we know for certain how much the device will cost: $499 and up. That will bring Microsoft into direct competition with long-time rival Apple.

The Surface will reportedly go on sale October 26, the same day Microsoft releases its newest operating system, Windows 8. When it hits store shelves, the Surface will be available in two editions: 32GB and 64GB.

Pricing options are as follows: For $499 you can get the 32GB Surface tablet without accessories. However, for $599 you get the 32GB Surface and a special keyboard known as the “Touch Cover.” The name says it all: the ultra-lite, thin keyboard acts as a protective wrap for the tablet when not in use. It’s a very simple though unique design.

Finally, a 64GB version of the Surface tablet with the Touch Cover keyboard will retail for $699.

If you purchase the $499 32GB Surface and want to buy the Touch Cover later on, it will be sold separately for $120. A slightly more tactile version of the Touch Cover known as the Type Cover will be available for $130.

Of course, this means Microsoft won’t be competing with low-end tablet devices like the Barnes & Noble Nook or Amazon Kindle Fire. Those firms can focus on competing with Google’s excellent Nexus 7.

So, once again we have a classic Microsoft vs. Apple hardware battle. The last time this happened it went quite poorly for the Redmond, Washington-based firm. Microsoft’s Zune digital media player has been discontinued, while the iPod now thrives in several forms: Touch, Nano, Classic, Shuffle.

It will be a few weeks before anyone has the chance to put the Surface through the paces. Given Microsoft’s struggles with early versions of the Xbox 360, it may be worth holding off on that pre-order.

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