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Surface Pro Availability Set for Feb. 9

Originally expected to become available this month, the x86-based Surface Pro tablet PCs running Windows 8 will hit retail shelves on Feb. 9 in the United States and Canada, Microsoft confirmed on Tuesday.

The Surface Pro devices will be sold at Microsoft's brick-and-mortar stores and its Web site, as well as through retail giants Best Buy and Staples. Microsoft's announcement did not specify whether it will expand the Surface Pro's retail availability to other retail outlets. In December, the company said it would allow third-party retailers to carry the Surface tablets.

The Surface Pro runs on Intel Core i5 x86-based processors and comes with 4 GB of RAM. Unlike the ARM-based Surface RT released in late October, the Surface Pro is able to run legacy Windows 7 applications. On the other hand, the Surface RT comes with preview versions of Office Home 2013 and Office Student 2013 preinstalled, while the Surface Pro does not.

There are other differences between the two models. For instance, the Surface Pro promises 42 Watt-hours of battery life while the Surface RT promises 31.5 Watt-hours. However, the measured battery-life figures may not be the best guide, as some reports have suggested that the Surface Pro has half the battery lifespan of the Surface RT's eight to 10 hours. Both models have a 10.6-inch display but the resolution on the Surface Pro is higher at 1920x1080 (compared to the 1366x768 pixels on the Surface RT). The Surface Pro display also supports 10-point multi-touch, compared to 5-point multi-touch on the RT model. This PDF lists more details about the hardware specs of each device.

Microsoft is offering 64 GB and 128 GB storage-space versions of the Surface Pro, priced at $899 and $999, respectively. The actual space remaining on the solid-state drives will vary, depending on the software loaded. The distinctive magnetic Surface keyboards must be purchased separately. The flatter Touch Cover, which comes in multiple colors, retails at $120. The more traditional-feeling Type Cover, which comes in black, retails at $130. Microsoft also announced on Tuesday that it is offering limited-edition Touch Covers with different designs for $130, and a new Surface version of its Wedge Touch Mouse for $70.

In addition to the Surface Pro announcement, Microsoft said that it is now offering a standalone version of the 64 GB Surface RT for $599. Previously, the 64 GB version of the Surface RT came bundled with a black Touch Cover, with the entire package retailing for for $699.

Microsoft is also expanding the retail availability of the Surface RT to 13 more countries in addition to the current eight. "Surface Windows RT is already available for purchase in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and the United States," according to a blog post by Surface General Manager Panos Panay. "New markets in the coming weeks include: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland."

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the Senior Site Producer for RCPmag.com.

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