Anyone considering placing an order for the least expensive version of Microsoft’s new Surface tablet (ie. the $499 32GB model running Windows RT that comes without the ultra-thin Touch Cover keyboard) might have to wait as long as three weeks to receive the device, according to its page on the Microsoft Store website. It originally showed October 26 – the day the tablet officially launches – as the delivery date.

The $599 32GB version with the Touch Cover, and the $699 64GB version also with the Touch Cover, are, at the time of writing, still showing a “by October 26” delivery date.

It’s tempting to think there’s been an early rush by consumers for Microsoft’s new tablet, but as noted by Cnet (via Neowin), without knowing exactly how many of the tablets are built, boxed and ready to ship, it’s hard to accurately gauge how much demand there really is for the device at this early stage.

It does appear, however, that the early adopters are ignoring the Touch Cover, opting for just the tablet. If they change their mind at a later date, they can of course pick up a Touch Cover for $119, or a Type Cover, best described as a more conventional keyboard compared to the Touch Cover, for $10 more.

This may be of some concern to Microsoft, which has been making a big deal of its accompanying cover/keyboard since it first unveiled the Surface back in June – indeed, an ad for the new tablet, shown for the first time Monday night, featured the cover/keyboard as much as the tablet.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the computer giant has placed orders to manufacture between three and five million Surface tablets from now until the end of this year. But whether Microsoft can persuade people to part with their cash for one of them is what industry watchers are waiting to find out.

One thing’s for certain though – consumers looking to purchase a tablet this holiday season will be spoilt for choice, with big-hitters Microsoft, Apple, Google and Amazon, as well as a slew of other tech companies, all set to battle it out in the coming weeks in what has suddenly become an incredibly busy, as well as crowded, tablet market.