back to article Microsoft offers free keyboard covers for Surface RT

The TV ads for Microsoft's Surface tablets look like music videos, with happy Surface users snapping and unsnapping their fondleslabs from their keyboard-covers. There's just one problem: Surface doesn't come with a cover – until now, that is. Previously, the Surface Touch Cover was available in five colors as a $120 add-on. …


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  1. RonWheeler

    No chrome

    Thought about this, and no Chrome equals why I wouldn't touch one. Which suddenly makes Chromebooks look like a lot of sense.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      They will be free with a full tank of petrol..........

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      They were looking for 500 members of the public to trial the RT and write reviews on it. The tablets would be free and theirs to keep so long as a comprehensive review was written.

      103 people took up the offer, 70 tablets were returned.

      If you still want to take part go check out the Microsoft website, offer is open until the 6 June.

      1. Sloppy Crapmonster

        Re: Apparently

        Do you have any more info on that? I'd take them up on it.

    3. Bob Vistakin

      Re: No chrome

      HTC will be pleased then.

      Oh, wait...

  2. Herby

    More lipstick...

    ...on a non-selling pig.

    How do I load Linux on it?

    Call it a "dance card" and be done with it.

    1. jaywin

      Re: More lipstick...

      Have you loaded Linux onto your iPad?

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        iPad Linux

        I don't have an iPad, but it one fell out of a packet of corn flakes then installing Linux would make it a useful device for me.

        The bundled MS Office license is the killer app for RT. Without that license, the cost of an RT tablet could get low enough that I would bother to do a web search for installing Linux on it.

        1. Richard Dale

          Cornflake packtets

          Funny you should mention cornflake packets because i was going to comment that the Surface RT keyboard reminds me of a cardboard cornflake packet cut out with scissors that someone has coloured in with a felt pen. Charging significant extra money for something like that was having a laugh in my opinion - maybe they can give it away for free, maybe not.

        2. Richard Plinston

          Re: iPad Linux

          > The bundled MS Office license is the killer app for RT

          Certainly _something_ killed RT ;-)

          On RT Office is not the full x86 Office, it lacks some features. It is for personal use only, any business or commercial use requires a licence to be purchased. It will also require a keyboard for effective use.

          > Without that license, the cost of an RT tablet could get low enough ...

          You are mistaken if you think that you could subtract the shop price of Office from the price of a Surface RT to make it 'low enough'. The actual proportion of the OEM cost for RT to cover the supplied Office would be a small number of dollars, 30 perhaps.

          > for installing Linux on it.

          Surface RT (and all ARM RT tablets AFAIK) have 'Secure Boot' without the option to turn it off - deliberately so that Linux _cannot_ be loaded.

          1. Anonymous Coward 15

            Re: iPad Linux

            Someone will crack or work around it eventually.

      2. Bob Vistakin
        Big Brother

        Re: More lipstick...

        "Have you loaded Linux onto your iPad?"

        Genuine question - since that device is only designed for the primitive one-thing-at-a-time kind of operation seen in legacy systems from years ago, is its hardware even capable of the kind of multitasking a modern OS like Linux offers?

        1. Charles Manning

          Don't really understand hardware or software, do we?

          Genuine question deserves a genuine answer.

          While the ipad might only be showing you one thing at a time, there are in fact many chunks of software running on this at the same time.

          For example, the podcast app is just a front-end to a back-end that actually downloads and plays the podcasts. You can, for instance, switch to the safari wed browser while the podcast continues in the background.

          The ipads are certainly capable of running Linux - you don't need much to run Linux at all.

  3. The Nazz

    I'll have one ....

    In a shade of "Invisible" please. To match the machine.

    Oh, and don't even try paying ME to take one.

  4. Phoenix50


    It's an offer, it ends on the 30th June, it happens on a wide variety of products once they've been out for a while.

    Nice try Reg.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Erm

      > It's an offer

      At least one can refuse it.

      But the non-offer is 120 USD? That's the kind of pricing for Apple vanity gear. No, Microsoft. Bad! BAD!

  5. Big_Ted
    Thumb Down

    This is old news 2 weeks and 2 days already. shows when the deal was spotted.

    1. Paul Shirley

      Re: This is old news

      The Reg has been very poor recently at seeking out news, apart from the endless desperate attempts to find dubious support for the editors non-IT related crusades.

      Still, confirms that Microsoft didn't want this pushed through normal PR channels and the attention that would bring. With so many bargain reporting sites and a growing trend of companies spamming into them it's become easy to reach the public without the normal PR grind or the press even noticing.

      Even the press that don't just sit on their arses waiting for stories to be handed to them...

  6. Azzy
    Thumb Down

    It still costs more...

    Than a 10 inch android tablet, bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and an OS that actually has an app ecosystem...

    (Desperation? Is that what that smell is? I thought it was just that their product stinks...)

    1. h3

      Re: It still costs more...

      Thing is about Android tablets is due to developer incompetence Google won't let you use the full screen anymore.

      If you are in a place where you can use Microsoft VDI it works much better on Windows RT. (RemoteFX for a start). Or published applications.

      If you want to mod stuff then with a hack you can build standard Windows apps for Windows RT.

      The everything full screen stuff is a disadvantage to both.

      The only thing Android has is cost.

      I don't think tablets are that much use but if a company was paying then I would go ipad if they are willing to spend the £3000 to get it so stuff can be done without Apples consent or Windows RT (If there is a good Windows infrastructure at the company).

      Microsoft at least compared to most companies plays the long game or they would have never bothered with Xbox in the first place.

  7. Raz

    Hey Microsoft

    Forget the keyboard, sell me the tablet only for less than $250 and you'll have a customer.

    1. Shagbag

      Re: Hey Microsoft

      Agreed, but MSFT has enjoyed a desktop monopoly for so long that they still have the mindset that they're price-makers, not price-takers.

      If anything the Surface fiasco is the clearest message to MSFT that the world has changed.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In Europe they're going to give you a free Surface RT if you buy a keyboard. Any keyboard. Even a piano is eligible.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Well, you can immediately get a discount of EUR 200 by picking up the "only used once" gear on amazon.

  9. OrsonX

    RT vs Pro

    If I was in the market for a new laptop / new tablet then I would defo consider Microsoft's offering. However, what would make the choice REALLY difficult is the RT vs Pro conundrum?!

    They should have made ONE tablet to rule them all, not two tablets that are half baked.

    1. h3

      Re: RT vs Pro

      Samsungs Galaxy Tab 3 (It is x86) running Windows 8 pro might be a better option depending on how it is locked down. (Not sure Samsung really cares what happens once you have bought the thing.)

      Microsoft are going to have to drop the price of this if they want to sell any.

      Once the ivy bridge based atoms come out (Dunno when that is) one of those 2 cores + hyperthreading + 4GB ram - proper windows 8 is going to make this totally redundant.

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: RT vs Pro

        An x86 processor doesn't mean that a device will run Windows. The rest of the hardware needs to be PC as well. Samsung Tablet PCs are a lot more expensive - I know, I just bought one (arrives tomorrow). Their Ativ Pro is comparable to Surface Pro and about the same price, but you can store the pen inside the tablet. For some reason the 3G model was slightly cheaper than the non-3G one, so I got the 3G, I hope I didn't make a horrible mistake. I'm pretty sure that it isn't the non-Pro model, which would be a lot less satisfactory.

  10. Eddy Ito

    Great, but

    I'll take one for the missus. Will it work with android? Oh, never mind.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is a good deal

    The Surface RT is destined to become a rare and puzzling collectors item.

  12. FireWorks

    Ultrabook branding

    Intel will allow them to call it an Ultrabook if it sells with the detachable keyboard.

    Mines the one with the Haswell label.

  13. Christian Berger

    The better solution would have been finally include x86 emulation so you can run normal win16 and win32 software on it. Even if it's really slow and hardly usable, it will allow you to run certain pieces of essential software like VPN clients and such.

    1. Ramazan

      Re: The better solution would have been

      Still better solution would be to do hardware-assisted emulation of x86 on ARM-based device, like MS did with Z80 SoftCard. They could design simple x86 coprocessor to share the same die with ARM cores and turn x86 coprocessor when it's not actively used.

      1. Gerhard den Hollander

        Re: The better solution would have been

        Maybe they should just include a z80 emulator, a shitload of z80 games, and sell it to the retro audience

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The better solution would have been

        Why not just stick an atom + full win 8 on it? Better battery life and full win 8(.1) = win.

        I'm guessing that's what's coming on July 1....

      3. Richard Plinston

        Re: The better solution would have been

        > Still better solution would be to do hardware-assisted emulation of x86 on ARM-based device, like MS did with Z80 SoftCard.

        The Z80 Softcard was not an emulation, it was a full real Z80 with its own RAM running CP/M, it just happened to use the Apple II case, keyboard and disks.

        > They could design simple x86 coprocessor to share the same die with ARM cores and turn x86 coprocessor when it's not actively used.

        Who is the 'they' ? I doubt that Intel would care to do this. AMD might, VIA perhaps. But I think that you are entirely optimistic because the OS would also need to run full x86 API on the x86 and RT has had much of this removed. It would probably have to run a complete Windows 8 _and_ Windows RT and the x86 would need to be as powerful (and costly) as the Surface Pro.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The better solution would have been

      Except for those crappy ones that uses special drivers.

  14. Fill

    MS is playing Follow the Leader

    ...and taking a huge hit at being behind and trying to be what the critics say they want them to be. Trying to emerge now as a tablet and smart phone power after Apple and Google is remarkably daft given the mistakes made. Do what you do well, and don't assume you can trump the competition like you could in the past through brute force. It just doesn't play well any more. MS isn't hip, so don't try to be! Focus on business. You've lost the other fronts so admit that and adapt and move on. There are classic signs here of old upper management failures here and maybe it's time to change the guard.

    1. OrsonX

      Re: MS is playing Follow the Leader

      I certainly don't think they've lost yet (phones / tablets). They certainly dropped the ball, but 3rd place isn't a bad position to be in and things can change, look at Nokia's resurgence after almost bailing out (running Win phone no less).

      And I disagree that focussing on business is the way forward. Look at what the competition is doing: EVERYTHING. Google most noticeably is trying for a piece of every pie (& succeeding to a large extent).

      I haven't seen anything wrong with Surface, except that you are faced with an unnecessary choice.

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Third place was the target

        Installed base at end of Q1 2013:

        1 Android _______ 823M _ 57%

        2 iOS __________ 277M _ 19%

        3 Symbian ______ 165M _ 11%

        4 Blackberry _____ 97M __ 8%

        5 Windows Phone _ 28M __ 2%

        6 bada __________ 27M __ 2 %

        Oops - they missed. Windows is not the 'third ecosystem'. It is 5th. Elop set fire to the Symbian platform so Windows Phone might gain one position. Blackberry could mess up their come-back and drop out of the running. Windows might get into fourth place for a short time, but then will be overtaken by Tizen and at least one out of Sailfish, Ubuntu and Firefox.

        Have you got any evidence for 'Nokia's resurgence'? I know they sold the most expensive smart phone in the world - their head office. They cannot bump their smart phone revenue the same way again.

        I agree that focussing on the business market is a one way trip to legacy land. The thing is, they do not have many choices. Microsoft depend on manufacturers installing Windows on everything, but they are burning their relationships with manufacturers. Patent extortion, copying manufacturers unique selling points into surface and crowing about 100M licenses shipped (to manufacturers who cannot sell them on) are not the best ways to keep essential business partners happy. In a year or two, Windows on a new computer will be an expensive add-on feature - not bundled whether you want it or not.

        I have known for years that Microsoft Linux was inevitable. I did not expect to see it so soon:—-strange-place-find-penguin

        The next big milestone to look out for is Microsoft Office for Android.

        You may not see anything wrong with Surface, but millions of other people do. We know this because they bought ABM.

      2. Mr Spock

        Your Shill-O-Mat is due for service or repair

        > 3rd place isn't a bad position to be in

        Sure isn't. Shame Microsoft aren't in it.

        > look at Nokia's resurgence

        Your microscope's broken.

        > I haven't seen anything wrong with Surface

        You're probably too busy looking at Nokia's resurgence.

    2. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: MS is playing Follow the Leader

      To me Microsoft's current efforts feel rather like Apple suddenly deciding to license the Mac operating system after Windows 95 had come out.

    3. Wade Burchette Silver badge

      Re: MS is playing Follow the Leader

      Funny thing is I see Microsoft trying desperately to show how much superior their products are to the competition. I saw an advertisement today showing how much better Bing is than Google. The next commercial after that, I saw an Expedia commercial using a Windows phone to book a trip. Expedia is owned by Microsoft. Yesterday I saw a Surface and an iPad side-by-side with Siri saying "sorry I can't do that". And last week I saw an ad showing how "easy" Windows 8 is.

      It is my opinion that those who do everything do nothing well. Microsoft is proving that to be true.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Microsoft offers free keyboard covers for Surface RT"

    Should be made of stone and have R.I.P carved on them

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Do the same for the Pro and upgrade the screen to ultra high res as an option and I can see with some further revisions of Windows 8 they would start selling.

    I know this wont be popular

  17. Anony-mouse

    Does anyone else find it funny....

    That this "free keyboard offer" expires right at the end of the second quarter? Does that sound to anyone else like Microsoft trying to pad sales numbers for the quarter by offering an expensive add-on for free to try to stimulate a few sales to make those numbers not seem so utterly terrible?

    BTW, I am working with a person that actually bought a Surface RT and he actually likes it for what he needs. All I have actually seen him use it for is for watching movies and checking personal email on the rig at work. We work on drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and he doesn't want to use his Co laptop computer to check personal email accounts, as well as watch naughty movies. His main reason for picking it over an iPad or Android tablet was the inclusion of Office. He knows he took a high hard one on the pricing but he figured he might need to use Office for something. But since he got it, I haven't seen him use his surface for anything besides casual surfing on the internet and watching movies. He could have saved quite a bit of money and bought an iPad or Android tabl;et.


    Of cause by the time we get either Surface in South Africa the world will have ended.

    @MS thank you for taking your sweet time, I wanted one of these devices for some odd reason. However as you have taken so long I have come to remember just how much I dislike Win8. I'll stick with my iPad

  19. Mr.Key

    Oh screwn jeyboard

    Tabvlet owner s do hot need to tupe. No need 4 productivitys, need products, many. Give deals!

  20. scarshapedstar

    $120? Seriously?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    annual upgrade cycle

    Its a bad time of year to buy an iPad, Nexus, or Surface. Its unknown when Surface RT will move from the aging Tegra 3 or Surface pro will contain Haswell but Apple and Google refreshes aren't far away.

    Price reduction sounds sensible better late than never. Why Microsoft chose to go through all the negative press by not including a keyboard at the launch price remains a mystery.

  22. JDX Gold badge


    El REg said MS should and probably would do deals on free covers to boost sales. Now they follow your advice and you criticise them for it :)

  23. gerdesj Silver badge

    Commentard madness

    This is surely a new^M^M^M^M monotonously regular low: An article and commentary on a plastic cover for a device.

    FFS, it's like getting excited about a car seat cover.

    I know a news site has to try and keep the news coming but this is really sad.



    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Missed the point of the article

      Commentards do not give a damn about the free keyboard/cover. The point is that Microsoft no longer control the personal computer industry.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    You think THIS is desperate???

    They are using ANGRY BIRDS to try and sell Win8!!!!

    These days M$ products rank up there with the :-

    Sinclar C5 (famously sold only a few thousand)

    Ford Granada Ghia Diesel (quietly only sold 2 in the launch year)

    RMS Titanic (Sank without an trace, and possibly the closest match for "Surface" in either guise)

  25. DrXym Silver badge

    Should have been "free" from the get go

    The Surface RT was already overpriced and it might have gone some way to justify the cost if the thin keyboard was tossed in as a freebie. Doubt they cost even $5 to make.

  26. Vince

    Too little, too late.

    Shame they did this now, too late IMO.

    The big selling point of the Surface series is that detachable keyboard and it should have come with one of the type or touch covers as standard. Because it didn't, I felt a bit miffed that they wanted an extra £100 or so for it, so instead, despite being much more, I've bought a Lenovo Ideapad Yoga, which I love.

    WinRT is more than adequate on the Ideapad for the purposes I have that device so I'm happy. Microsoft missed the boat really.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You have to wonder what the point of the ARM version was really? Windows 8 was sort of about shrinking a desktop OS into a tablet instead of growing a smartphone OS into a tablet OS.

    But with the ARM version it is a desktop OS shrunk even further.

    1. Richard Plinston

      > You have to wonder what the point of the ARM version was really?

      Windows On ARM was to stop OEMs making ARM tablets that did not run a Windows OS. It worked on HP making them pull WebOS rather than losing their 'Loyalty Discount' on _all_ Microsoft products.

      Next MS will have an ARM Server OS to try stop the OEMs doing these with Linux.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The point is to build an ARM based Windows product line in case Intel and AMD prove uncompetitive with ARM on mobile devices in 2014/15. To state the bleedin obvious.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you attach it, it will go.

    (the metro interface, and all the stupid shit that surrounds it, that is.)

    I heard this in the fields last night.

  29. Gil Grissum

    Limited time only??

    Microsoft should include a Touch Cover with every RT and Surface Pro, by default, and only sell the hard keyboard cover. That is, if they want to sell these things in large quantities. The prices should be dropped to levels that customers are willing to pay for. Who's going to spend more for a Surface than an iPad? Apparently not very many.

  30. John Sanders

    Someone doesn't get it.

    We know for sure that tablet users use cad software, spend countless hours drawing, composing music and coding PHP applications, and even writing books. Well we all know that is only 0.1% of the tablet users, the remaining 99.9% of tablet users tend to use them for useless stuff like reading, reading web pages or using the tablet as a remote for checking the torrents on the computer upstairs.

    A surface tablet even with a keyboard and Windows 8 is maybe more useful than a regular iOS or Android tablet, but is about it, if you put a keyboard on it it can work more as a laptop at the expense of being less tablet.

    The problem then is that you are unlikely to find applications that can seamlessly go from tablet to laptop mode and vice-versa and remain utile. No matter what MS does working with word and excel in tablet mode is of very little use for anything other than reading documents, if you want to do any serious editing you are going to get hold of the keyboard... and that horrible surface keyboard requires a table, can not be used on your lap like a laptop... Turning the whole experience into a pain in the back as you can not use it while vegetating on the sofa, that is where you use the tablet. If I have to sit on the sofa with the tablet on the table, I will rather go upstairs and sit comfortably with a nice chair and full keyboard and mouse.

    Or here comes the interesting bit... I would use the laptop that I already have, that has a keyboard, Windows, the applications I require and that I can use on my lap without the screen falling on the floor. If this laptop dies I do not have to spend ~£800 but ~£400 for a replacement, and it comes with vast amounts of ram, processor and storage than the MS tablet.

    This leads me to the conclusion that I do not need a MS tablet with full blown windows for such a huge amount of money. For what I would use a tablet for, an Apple or an Android table would do the same if not a better job, and because I do not need that expensive productive software on the tablet really I do not care about it being Windows.

    I can see cases for using the MS tablet, as being so portable can be of some use to a certain type of user who need to open MS documents or other files from complex Windows applications, but not as many as to represent a nice chunk of the market.

    In my opinion MS is targeting the wrong user, with the wrong price, and with the wrong OS.

    An interesting question is what happens if another Office compatible suite appears on iOS and Android, and becomes popular. My point is that what MS was trying to prevent is precisely this without realizing that tablet users do not do anything productive with the tablets (at least not 99.9% of the time)

    1. John Sanders

      Re: Someone doesn't get it.

      I forgot to add to the list of unproductive tablet activities: check farcebook and play occasional games.

  31. Wrong ended schtick

    So on July 1...

    June 30: free keyboard offer closes

    July 1: MS surface RT includes keyboard.

    Pity they didn't include it in the first place. But what else would you do if you we're having trouble shipping demo models to the shops in time for the product launch?

  32. Anonymous Coward 15

    Is the Touch cover

    as much like a ZX81 as it looks?

    1. Radium

      Re: Is the Touch cover

      No, it doesn't squish as you type on it.

      It's a bit like typing on felty warts.

  33. ukgnome

    For those that didn't bother to read the small print....

    It also includes a free brown paper bag with 2 eye holes cut into it so you remain anonymous.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Through ?

    "free cover offer runs through June 30."


    I assume it runs 'through' June 27th, and June 17th too, why did you pick on June 30th ?

    Or did you mean it ends on June 30th?

  35. Belardi

    Shaking Head.... I had thought that Microsoft was going to do something SMART to create the RT Market (What the hell is an RT? I still don't know!). Like Android, the software for the tablet should work on their phones... MS screwed the pouch on that one. But in everything they have done in 2012 and in 2013 has been STUPID. Only Office365 is doing well... but for how long?

    Here is WHAT MS should have done with the SurfaceRT without going HP and selling it for $100....

    They should have sold it at COST or even a few bucks below. $199USD intro price. Yes, the profit will be nothing, but losing $10 per unit (give or take) = $10m loss per 1million unit sales. That is NOTHING compared to the millions spent on TV ADs and other marketing trying to get people to buy one at $500+.

    The LOSS is to create excitement... to get people to buy and use the thing, to get developers eager to actually make software for it (besides the PITA differences between WP8 and RT8). If they had sold 10m units over the past 6 months at a loss of 100million is NOTHING compared to the 1.8BILLION USD spent in marketing Windows8/RT/WP. Then after selling a few apps would at least make up for the loss... and eventually create a market share that would have a FUTURE.

    So instead... Microsoft is greedy and stupid... they DID NOT LEARN from RIM and HP and others who brought new tablets to the market at iPad prices! The Touchpad, the Playbooks were $500 toys with buggy software and no apps. Hmmmm... and the Surface/RT is no different.

    Microsoft is going to feel more pain in the next 6 months... and more so after Win8.1 comes out and people STILL stays the hell away from "Windows" *cough* TIFKAM 8.1. Who wants to bet?

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