Microsoft's Surface Pro To Arrive January, Start at $899
Microsoft announced the pricing for its Surface tablet-PCs running Windows 8 Pro on Thursday.
Microsoft plans to bring Surface Pro to market sometime in January in two models, differentiated by storage capacity. The Surface Pro with 64 GB of storage capacity will be priced at $899, while the Surface Pro with 128 GB of storage will cost $999.
Surface Pro devices use Intel Core i5 x86-based processors and have a number of differences compared to the ARM-based Windows RT Surface devices that were released on Oct. 26.
The advertised storage sizes are just overall estimates and come with some caveats. For instance, the Windows 8 Pro operating system and installed apps will take up some of that storage space. Microsoft doesn't say how much storage space remains on Surface Pro machines, but its chart for Windows RT-based Surface devices indicates that 16 GB of storage remains on 32-GB machines and 45 GB of storage remains on 64-GB machines. Microsoft is currently being sued by a California attorney over this advertised storage capacity issue, according to a report.
There are a few storage extension options available for those who need more. Microsoft offers 7 GB of storage at no cost via its cloud-based SkyDrive service, with pricing from $10 to $50 per year for those users wanting extra storage. It's also possible to extend the storage by plugging in a microSDXC card, which can add up to 64 GB of storage space.
One big difference between the ARM and x86 Surface devices is that x86 models do not come with Microsoft Office Home and Student preinstalled at no extra charge. Consequently, Surface Pro devices won't have storage space taken up by that productivity suite. Of course, that circumstance also means that consumers who want that suite on their Surface Pro devices will have to pay separately to get it. Office 2013 products are available now to Microsoft's enterprise volume licensee customers as well as TechNet and MSDN subscribers, but public availability is expected in early 2013, possibly in January.
Microsoft's Surface Pro hardware specs are shown in the table below. Surface Pro devices have a few hardware differences compared with Surface RT devices.
The battery lifespan of the Surface Pro is 42 Watts hours compared with 31.5 Watts hours with Surface RT machines, per Microsoft's comparison chart. However, that's not too meaningful, as the Surface Pro is described as having half the battery lifespan of the Surface RT's eight to 10 hours, according to a report by veteran Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley. The screen resolution of the Surface Pro is higher at 1920x1080 pixels versus 1366x768 pixels. Surface Pro devices support 10-point multitouch versus five-point multitouch on Surface RT. The Surface Pro comes with a USB 3.0 port vs. USB 2.0 on Surface RT (although that difference seems likely to change in the near future).
Another difference is that the Surface Pro comes with a Mini DisplayPort, which is an Apple product that connects to external digital displays. Surface Pro comes with a 48-Watt power supply plus 5-Watts for charging devices, compared with Surface RT's 24-Watt power supply. The Surface Pro is a bit heavier at 2 pounds compared with Surface RT's 1.5 pounds.
Both models feature the option of using either a flat touch-based Touch Keyboard or a more traditional mechanical Type Keyboard. For a review of the Surface RT and the two keyboard options, see this article.
| CPU || Intel Core i5 with 4 GB of RAM system memory|
64 GB or 128 GB|
42 W-h (Watt hours)|
10.6-inch ClearType HD display, with resolution of 1920 x1080 pixels, aspect ratio of 16:9 and 10-point multitouch capability|
Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n) and Bluetooth 4.0 technology|
Two 720p HD cameras, with one located at front and one in rear|
Two microphones, stereo speakers|
Full-size USB 2.0, microSDXC card slot, headset jack, Mini DisplayPort, cover port|
Ambient light sensor, accelerometer, compass and gyroscope|
10.81 x 6.81 x 0.53 inches consisting of "VaporMg" casing in dark titanium color, with volume and power buttons|
Power Supply || 48-Watt power supply, plus 5-Watt USB for charging accessories|
| Apps (included) || Windows Mail and Messaging |
Windows Internet Explorer 10, Bing
Xbox Music, Xbox Video and Xbox Games
One-year limited hardware warranty and 90 days of no-charge tech support|
Surface Pro vs. Surface RT
Surface Pro devices have an advantage over their Windows-RT ARM-based cousins in that they can run Windows 7-based applications. Users of Surface RT devices can't run Windows 7 apps and have to get new applications through the Windows Store that are specifically designed for the "Windows Store App" tile-based touch interface, which was formerly known as "Metro."
IT pros allowing bring-your-own-device scenarios in the workplace will have a few management differences to note between the Surface Pro and the Surface RT. The Surface Pro can be managed in familiar ways using Active Directory. However, Surface RT devices will depend on having Exchange Active Sync technology in place, in which an agent is installed on the device, to enable management.
Microsoft also has described a difference in the licensing between the two devices. Surface RT devices are automatically covered with a Virtual Desktop Access license if used as a companion device at work, unlike Surface Pro devices. However, a new Companion Device License may be the recourse for those with Software Assurance licensing in place on their PCs if such bring-your-own-device access is needed for a Surface Pro, iPad or Android device.
Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.