Technologizer

Surface Pro: Both a Pricey Tablet and a Reasonably-Priced Windows Ultraportable

Microsoft has finally disclosed the price and precise specs for Surface with Windows 8 Pro, which it plans to deliver in January.

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Back in June, Microsoft unveiled its Surface and Surface Pro tablets, the first PCs it’s ever designed and sold itself. Last month, it shipped Surface with Windows RT, which starts at $499. And now it’s finally disclosed the price and precise specs for Surface with Windows 8 Pro, which it plans to deliver in January.

This higher-end Surface device, which weighs under 2 pounds and is 13.5mm thick, will be available in an $899 version with 64GB of storage and a $999 one with 128GB. Both models have next-generation Intel Core i5 processors and USB 3.0 ports, have 10.6″ screens which run at 1920-by-1080 resolution, and come in the Surface’s signature magnesium case with flip-out kickstand. And they come with pressure-sensitive pens for note-taking and sketching.

They don’t, however, come with a keyboard. Assuming you want one — and you will — you’ll pay either $119.99 for the whisper-thin Touch Cover or $129.99 for the chunkier-but-comfier Type Cover. I get why Microsoft doesn’t throw in a keyboard in the base price, but it still feels a tad like Mercedes releasing a new sedan which doesn’t come standard with a steering wheel.

(One other note on specs: As far as I can tell, Microsoft isn’t quoting a battery life estimate, at least right now. UPDATE: It has made an estimate, and it’s not good news — half the life of Surface RT.)

If the iPad is the benchmark, Surface Pro looks awfully pricey: Its $899 64GB model is $200 more than a 64GB iPad. (There is no 128GB iPad.) But if you think of it as a high-end Windows portable PC, the pricing makes sense. Acer’s S7 Ultrabook, for instance, is a slick touch-screen Windows 8 machine that’s roughly similar in terms of specs, and it starts at $1200.

And really, the main reason to consider buying Surface Pro is if you do indeed use it as a high-end Windows portable PC. Unlike Surface for Windows RT, it’ll run all old-style Windows desktop apps, not just the bundled Office suite. It can drive an external monitor at 2560-by-1440 resolution, and work with a standard keyboard and a mouse. The theory is that you might buy it and use it as both a conventional Windows computer and a post-PC tablet, which might make it look downright economical.

Ever since Microsoft started talking about Windows 8, it’s used the phrase “no compromises” to describe its vision of an operating system that’s good at both classical PC tasks and new-wave tablet stuff. As the only Windows 8 system created by Microsoft itself, Surface Pro is the company’s uncompromising approach to no-compromises computing. When it goes on sale in January — only at Microsoft Stores and on Microsoft.com — it’s going to be fascinating to see how many real people buy into the vision.

16 comments
pfarmer
pfarmer

Microsoft's strategy with the Surface reminds me of the old SNL skit -- "It's a floor wax and a dessert topping!"  The device mat be an imperfect tablet, but it's a suboptimal laptop. >$1000 with keyboard and only 64Gb storage is not a bargain, especially with battery life of only 4-5 hours.  The bloated operating system will probably consume 25% of that storage.  

I predict that the Microsoft Store will remain the Loneliest Place on Earth.

youaresuperwrong
youaresuperwrong

Microsoft didn't seem to learn a single thing from the failure of Tablet PCs and why the tablet market was near nil before Apple introduced the iPad. Apple found the niche market of the tablet, which is positioned between the smartphone and the laptop/desktop. That market was dominated before by the netbooks, which were inadequate for the tasks they were meant to accomplish. As soon as the iPad came in, netbooks disappeared. The Surface is repeating exactly the same mistake of Tablet PCs, a device that is both a compromised tablet and a compromised laptop. In the end, people want neither.

johnnyt74
johnnyt74

Doa.

iPad or MacBook Air is the way to go.

BongBong
BongBong

Harry, surely you don't believe there will be a serious number of these products sold? They are far too expensive relative to a moderately priced laptop, and if there is one thing we've learned about the commodity PC business, it is very price sensitive.

rentalchair
rentalchair

want one since it replaces laptop, tablet and possiblyt desktop

applespotlight
applespotlight

@rbuike Yep. Surface in its current state is a flop.

applespotlight
applespotlight

@npann not that they haven’t done similar things to create artificial lines

jeffkibuule
jeffkibuule

Anyone who is comparing the Surface Pro to an iPad is making a terribly bad joke.

godiffl
godiffl

THIS IS A PC! NOT A ****** IPAD. IT CANNOT BE COMPARED TO AN IPAD, IT'S PRACTICALLY AN ULTRABOOK. FFS when will people stop sucking up to apple and pretending there some 'godly' company..

billhelm
billhelm

@emoeby I don't understand who would buy that over a win 8 ultrabook or one of those new win 8 convertible devices.

pfarmer
pfarmer

@godiffl Apple is regarded as a 'godly' company because of its ungodly high sales and profit margins.Surface Pro is trying to be an iPad and a MacBook Air at the same time.  Unfortunately, it comes up short on both counts. 

Denesius
Denesius

@godiffl I would actually agree with you - except that by default, a PC has a keyboard. Let's be honest- MS built this thing to complete with tablets, therefore their wish should be accommodated. 

rentalchair
rentalchair

@pfarmer @godiffl so if you are so sure then why windows have 80% market share of computers out there and apple has total of 7%. When you work at your office, are they using mac or iPad connected to none existence apple servers?

sandifjm
sandifjm

@rentalchair @pfarmer @godiffl Windows has an 80% market share of OPERATING SYSTEMS, not computers.  And that includes XP, Windows 7 and (ahem) Vista.  Mac OSX only runs on Macs, so naturally the company that allows any PC maker to include its software on their machines will have a much higher market share.  I'm not really sure what the point of your argument is. I don't consider Apple to be a "godly" company, but it is the most valuable company in the history of the world, so they must be doing something right.