Surface available at Microsoft retail stores in Canada and United States

Microsoft officially launched Windows 8 and Windows RT across the globe today. Along with the new operating systems, the Redmond, Wash.-based corporation also makes its branded Surface tablet available at all Microsoft 27 retail, 34 holiday and online stores across United States and Canada.

Microsoft Surface starts at $499in the United States, AU$599 in Australia, CDN$519 in Canada, EUR479 in Germany, EUR489 in France, and GBP399 in the United Kingdom for the 32GB version without the Touch Cover.

The physical keyboard with "moving keys" named Type Cover is also available, but only in black and for an additional $129.99 in the United States. It's aimed at users that seek a more authentic experience, though it's pricier than the Touch Cover which runs for $119.99. The latter is available in five colors: white, magenta, cyan and red on top of the standard black.

Microsoft Surface with Windows RT comes with a 10.6-inch ClearType HD Display with a 1366 by 768 resolution, 5-point mutitouch and 16:9 aspect ratio. The processing power is delivered by the 1.3 GHz quad-core nVidia Tegra 3 T30 CPU and 2GB of RAM. It is also equipped with Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n; Bluetooth 4.0; 720p cameras front and back; a full-size USB 2.0 port; microSDXC card reader; ambient light sensor; accelerometer; gyroscope and magnetometer. It weighs less than 1.5lbs and measures 10.81 x 6.77 x 0.37 inches.

My colleague Joe Wilcox introduced a poll in "Will you buy Surface RT?" in which he found that 25.92 percent had pre-ordered it or planned to do so, and 20.35 percent of respondents would buy it within 3 months of today's release.

As we approach the holiday gifting season, the market will be primed with new products to entice buyers and potentially shift these buying intentions. Is Surface exciting enough to make a dent when the full-sized iPad is a less remarkable incremental release? We should know by Christmas!

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