Microsoft is now taking pre-0rders for the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets, with prices starting at $449. But bargain hunters can still pick up a first-generation Surface tablet for as little as $349.

The only catch is that you’ll get a Microsoft Surface RT with an aging processor, a limited selection of apps, and no support for some of Microsoft’s cooler new accessories including the Power Cover.

Microsoft Store
Microsoft Store

It’s not clear if Microsoft plans to continue selling the original Surface RT tablet indefinitely, or if the company’s just hoping to clear out the remaining inventory. But while the original Surface Pro is still available for $799, it’s not exactly prominently featured on the Surface website.

The Surface RT, on the other hand, is displayed front and center, right next to the Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro — the only change is that it’s now just called the Surface. There’s no mention of Windows RT in the title.

The original Surface tablet does run Windows RT though, which is a stripped down version of Windows that only supports apps designed for computers with ARM-based processors, and primarily runs full-screen apps designed for the Metro user interface in Windows 8 and later.

If you want to run classic Windows apps or most desktop-style apps, this isn’t your best bet.

The good news is that the Surface tablet does come with Microsoft Home & Student 2013 pre-loaded, which means that for $349 you can get a 10 inch tablet for viewing and editing docs on the go, watching videos, surfing the web, and more. That’s not bad for a tablet that costs substantially less than a full-sized iPad.

The Microsoft Surface features a 10.6 inch, 1366 x 768 pixel display, an NVIDIA Tegra 3 ARM Cortex-A9 quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB to 64GB of storage, front and rear cameras, stereo speakers, and an 8 hour battery. It supports WiFi and Bluetooth, has a full-sized USB 2.0 port and a microSD card reader, measures 0.37 inches thick, and weighs 1.5 pounds.

You can also add an optional Touch Cover for $50, or pay separately for a Type Cover. As I mentioned, the Power Cover with an extra battery won’t work on this model.

If you spend an extra $100 for a Surface 2 instead, you get a model that’s a hair thinner and roughly the same weight, but which has a 1920 x 1080 pixel screen, an NVIDIA Tegra 4 ARM Cortex-A15 quad-core processor, and a 10 hour battery. This model will support the upcoming Power Cover.

The Surface 2 also comes with 200GB of free cloud storage at Microsoft SkyDrive for 2 years, as well as free international Skype calling for 1 year.

While the original Surface is the cheaper option… I have to wonder why anyone would spend $349 on that aging model rather than a little more to get the more powerful, more versatile Surface 2.

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10 replies on “Original Microsoft Surface RT lives on, still costs $349”

  1. People would have to be retarded to buy this old clunker, with Asus’ new T100 costing only $40 more; offering full windows software compatibility, Baytrail technology and a better keyboard.

  2. yes, it’s all about price. I’ve just bought a Surface because I wanted a larger tablet to work on, and since most of my work involves Office, the Surface is perfect. I can do a bit of browsing and check my emails too. It’s a solid piece of kit. But at the launch price? No way, not worth it. Now it’s worth considering. Most other tablets at that price point are plasticky and cheap, too small for what I want or Android, which I love as a consumer system, but won’t run Office, only the light alternatives.

  3. The Surface RT will sell when Microsoft does an HP and fire sales it at $99.
    As one web site put it, there are 115 million reasons (the number of iPads sold)
    why Office is no longer the must have productivity software, for mobile at least.
    Add to that the increasing number of Android devices sold.

    Since MS has already written down the value of the Surface RT inventory it has,
    the price will remain at $349 until someone takes his head out of the sand and
    realizes some revenue is better than none.

  4. Is the Surface 2 going to be running the same stripped down version of windows 8 or 8.1? Will it have the same limitations when it comes to apps and not running classic windows apps? Because if the same limitations are there with the Surface 2 that are there with it Surface but just better specs, I don’t see why anyone would bother with it at all.

    1. It’s a tough sell but the purpose of RT is mainly for a secondary PC… Running on ARM automatically excludes anything made to run on x86 and tablet devices are primarily marketed for casual usages and data consumption rather than content creation.

      MS intends RT to compete with mobile devices as a gateway between the mobile and traditional PC markets. Using essentially the same OS means you can learn how to use the OS once and apply that knowledge to all devices running the OS, regardless of limitations for each device type.

      The other reason why MS is doing this is because they’re hedging their bets as the mobile market is the only market that’s really growing right now, with the PC market mostly in decline… So they need RT to have a solution that can work on ARM, which is the primary platform for mobile devices and will likely remain so for the next couple of years… even if Intel starts gaining major market share.

      Mind that the more the Metro App market grows, the less Windows 8 will require legacy support to be relevant to users. Already, MS is working to provide Metro version of Office and other major apps.

      Once actual productivity apps are available for Metro then the lack of desktop support will become much less of a issue and mind also that tablets are usually best suited for casual usages with data consumption in mind rather than content creation… Meaning different priorities on how it should all work…

      So, it’s a long term strategy with RT that may or may not work out for MS but it’s not like they have much choice in the matter right now as no one can really predict how the market will go and being too specialized is a good way to find oneself obsolete when the market eventually shifts and your solution no longer has a place in the market…

      Blackberry, Nokia, etc are all examples of companies who relied on their traditional markets for too long and that choice hurt them badly… So keep that in mind with why MS isn’t giving up on RT yet… Though, I agree, they need to make it more open if it is to have a chance but I think they’re waiting on ARM to become less limiting a platform first, which should happen when the entire ARM market goes 64bit…

      1. i haven’t seen anything to suggest they couldn’t ship Windows RT for x86 just as well as for ARM. Just as locked-down a Desktop, etc. Windows RT is more about running on smaller and lighter devices with long battery life, it isn’t about ARM per se.

        1. ARM specifically can’t run x86 apps, they all have to be recompiled and re-optimized to run on ARM. Only hardware agnostic apps can run on both but aside from web apps and the ModernUI apps there aren’t any cross platform apps from x86 that will also run on ARM.

          Most of the lock downs are for reasons like keeping performance optimal, since ARM SoCs are still low performing compared to most x86 processors. The latest ARM SoCs have only rivaled the old ATOM and that means they’re at best only just barely above netbook performance range.

          While, emulations of any sort always has a performance hit that can easily be 1/5 of what a native app can run at… So MS had to be careful what they allowed run on these ARM devices… Mind that at the original time they had to deal with Tegra 3, which even the Clover Trail ATOM could beat for CPU performance!

          There was also no real hardware virtualization support until the newer Cortex A15 based SoCs came out… So for things like Binary Translations layer, they could only run on software and thus result in maximum performance hit if they tried it…

          Other problems they tried to avoid by locking the system is that a open system promotes non-optimized code and that in turn can effect the performance of everything.

          Even just having a bad WiFi driver for example is the reason why Always Connected Standby can cause a battery draining issue. While, similar un-optimized software could impede the performance of the rest of the system similarly and/or make it less stable.

          Consider also, they wanted to avoid the usual issues of malware and similar security concerns and locking the system down helps deal with those issues as well.

          While being locked down is something a lot of ARM mobile devices do, reasons ranging from content providers to OEMs wanting to avoid dealing with providing support for modified systems.

          So yeah, ARM had a lot to do with it along with the way the mobile market is mostly designed to work these days… Long battery life and light usage are just par the course of what mobile devices are expected to provide…

  5. If they really wanted to move old units they would give away that Skype and SkyDrive offer for the old RTs too. But perhaps that would hurt the Surface 2 sales.

    With the Surface 2 being not that much more expensive than the RT, having the updated hardware, performance and battery and with the Skype and SkyDrive offer I don’t see a reason to get an old RT.

    As long as people understand what the Surface RT/2 can and can’t do it’s a pretty nice device.

  6. It might be a lower price but considereing the limitations, it does not seem like such a bargain. It might be a bargain if what one wants it for is also limited to what it can do.

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