Microsoft's Surface with Windows 8 Pro to go on sale February 9

Microsoft's Surface with Windows 8 Pro to go on sale February 9

Summary: Business buyers who said no to Microsoft's Surface with Windows RT will get a chance to try the Surface with Windows 8 Pro when it goes on sale next month. Will the second time be the charm for Microsoft? Or will businesses pass on the radical tablet/PC design?

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Microsoft’s transformation into a devices and services company got off to a rocky start last October.

The first entry in the company’s ambitious foray into the hardware market, the Surface with Windows RT, fizzled, earning tepid reviews and moderate sales.

Now, 90 days later, Microsoft is poised to take another crack at the market, with a second member of the Surface family about to go on sale.

SurfaceProRight-620

A few more pieces of the Surface puzzle snapped into place today. For starters, there’s an official on-sale date: Beginning February 9, customers will be able to buy the Surface with Windows 8 Pro from Microsoft’s brick-and mortar stores, from its online store, and from Best Buy and Staples stores in the U.S.

The company’s hope is that buyers who passed on the Windows RT-powered Surface because of its inability to run Windows desktop software will say yes to the new Surface. It shares the same basic design as the Surface RT, albeit slightly thicker and a half-pound heavier. But it runs Windows 8 Pro, and its Ivy Bridge i5 processor should be capable of running even demanding Windows desktop apps.

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Microsoft previously announced pricing for the Surface with Windows 8 Pro. The base model includes 64 GB of flash storage for $899, with a 128 GB model available for $999 (in both models, a significant portion of available memory is devoted to the operating system). Touch Cover and Type Cover accessories are extra, and unlike the Surface RT, the Windows 8 Pro version doesn’t include Microsoft Office.

Today’s Surface announcements also included expansions to the Surface RT’s availability. In “coming weeks,” Microsoft says, customers in 13 Western European markets will be able to purchase the Surface RT. Those markets include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Addressing a frequent concern of Surface RT buyers, Microsoft is also planning to offer the Surface RT in a 64 GB version that isn't bundled with a black Touch Cover. The new SKU will cost $599, with Touch Cover and Type Cover accessories available as an extra-cost option.

In addition, Microsoft is launching some custom Surface peripherals. Three new limited-edition Touch Covers, in red, cyan, and magenta, will be available for $129.99. The new covers include lively patterns that are reminiscent of what Microsoft Hardware has done in the past with its input devices.

Surface-designer-touch-covers-620

In addition, Surface buyers will be able to pick up a custom version of the tiny Bluetooth-powered Wedge Mouse for $69.95. (All prices are in U.S. dollars.)

As with earlier milestones in the Surface family’s evolution, Microsoft has severely restricted the ability of outsiders to spend hands-on time with the new hardware. At the 2013 International CES in Las Vegas earlier this month, I was one of a handful of reporters and analysts given a sneak peek at the new hardware. Based on that brief test drive, I can confirm that the Surface Pro is every bit as elegant as its RT cousin, albeit a bit chunkier.

Hardware –wise, there are a few differences from the ARM-powered RT model. It uses the identical cover/keyboards, but the Surface Pro includes a beefier (although still light) AC power supply, and it has a lightweight pen that snaps firmly into the power connector for transport. It has a single USB 3.0 port (compared to USB 2.0 for its ARM cousin). Its full HD display offers a 1920x1080 resolution, with a mini DisplayPort output capable of driving a large external monitor at up to 2560x1440.

The system seemed fast and responsive, and it generated just enough heat to confirm that yes, there really is an Intel chip inside. I wasn’t able to make any judgments about battery life based on my short hands-on session.

Microsoft’s goal with the Surface Pro is to build a best-of-breed PC that’s fully capable of competing with top-of-the-line PCs from its own partners. Businesses who shied away from the Surface RT because of its lack of legacy support should be much more receptive to this model—in theory, this is the kind of device that can convince corporate buyers to plunk down big orders to outfit an entire fleet.

Come February 9, businesses will finally get a chance to decide whether this is the Surface they’ve been waiting for. I'll have a full review after I've had a chance to spend some quality time with this edition.

Topics: Microsoft Surface, Microsoft, Windows 8 in Business

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124 comments
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  • This will see some business take up

    Although it is a little on the expensive side, look to see some IT folks and Executive toting these around. Since they'll play as part of the typical enterprise network, you might also see them playing roles where Microsoft envisioned them - in non-deskbound workplaces where you have to take inventory, run down checklists, take pictures, or process transactions on the road.
    Mac_PC_FenceSitter
    • Haters

      It's now time for Linux geeks, Apple lovers and MS haters to write delicious posts here. Please tell us ounce again how bad this product, that you have never tried, is sooooo bad and why it should fail.
      gbouchard99@...
      • Um, nobody has tried it

        it isn't for sale yet. So any opinions any of us offer are speculative - pro or con.
        Mac_PC_FenceSitter
        • Agree

          enough said.
          gbouchard99@...
        • They didn't even give Ed more than a cursory look at it

          That in itself doesn't bode too well given his well-recognized preference for MS products. I look forward to more substantive reviews once people actually get meaningful hands-on time. Hopefully for those in the MS ecosystem the battery life is better than has been hinted at.
          UGottaBKidding
          • Look up your history...

            Ed and several Journalist also got a sneak peak at Windows RT AND got a Windows RT device for test at home under NDA Before it was released.

            Wanna make a bet that Ed Bott is right now using his new Surface Pro device at home and as we speek is writing his Review for it, to be released 8th February?
            brhorv
          • brhorv...anything under the name of Surface isn't worth 10 cents

            all the Surface hardware is comming to market UNDER tested and the Windows 8 software will be full of bugs and who is to say everything will up date properly.....oh yah right Toddbotom3 and Loverock Davidson say everything will work.....yah like you can believe those two microsoft fanboys...........
            Over and Out
          • Wow, a prophet!

            What else do you make snap judgments on?
            boomchuck1
        • It is Windows 8 in a smaller, lighter, package than a notebook PC

          It has a Core i5, 4GB of RAM, 64GB (or 128GB) SSD, USB 3, MicroSDXC, Bluetooth, and 1080p HD video out. It weighs 2 pounds and has an 11.6" screen. It also includes a stylus. It costs $899/$999 and the type cover costs $129.99.

          What else do you need to know?
          M Wagner
          • What else do we need to know?

            How much of the internal storage is used by or reserved for the operating system? How long does the battery last when a CPU intensive application is being run? How long does the battery last when viewing a 1920x1080 video? How much RAM is consumed by the OS? How well does the touch interface perform when using RDP to access a server which does not have a touch interface so you are faking a keyboard and mouse. How well does it run our current corporate app mix -- the apps that required several rather expensive rewrites to work with Windows 7.

            You know, the sort of questions that are not covered by your parroting of the hardware list. the sort of questions the average IT department is going to ask before inditing a purchase order. You didn't even bother to mention whether the OS is 32 bit or 64 bit. FYI. it's 64 bit and 4GB of memory is not all that much.
            DNSB
          • M(icrosoft MVP) Wagner

            That should give you some answers why he replied the way he did.
            Arm A. Geddon
          • Its a Windows 8 machine!

            All those questions (except for battery Life) can get answered by looking on other competititve Windows 8 devices!

            Example: On my Windows 8 Enterprise machine the OS takes up 17.5 GB. So that answers the same question for Surface Pro...

            How hard can it be?
            brhorv
          • I dont get it...

            Since, from your post, I ecpect you to be some kind of demanding user or even IT pro, I'd expect you to have at least half of your questions already answered. Do expect Surface pro to be ANY way different from notebook with windows 8 installed in terms of OS demands, storage demands, RAM demands etc? 4Gb is not all that much? True, when you are using it as a virtual machine server or CAD workstation, but Surface pro is not meant to be such a device...yet.

            So, for all but battery questions, you already have the answers. Unless you don't/didn't bother.
            Andrej.G.
          • Wait for other models.

            There is no need to watch video at such a high resolution on a small screen. The other concerns are valid. It just seems like a downsized laptop with not much storage.

            I don't think it will make much more of a splash than the RT version did, mainly because of the price which is too high. I'm waiting to see the ones that other makers will produce using the newest AMD mobile processors which are cheaper and better suited for this form factor.
            dch48
          • Battery Life?

            If battery life is good, then this is a great device. If it's only 2 or 3 hours, it's hard to sell it as a field device. However, if you need a new laptop that sometimes has to function as a tablet, then it might be a good choice. We'll find out in a few weeks.
            notsofast
        • Except...

          ...for the price.

          At that price point, I think it will be a hard sell for small businesses or consumers. I know our company wouldn't spend that much on one. I'm sure large corporations are another matter.
          Badgered
          • But it is two devices in one

            Compare the price to a Macbook Air bundled with an iPAd. That should give a fair price comparison.
            brhorv
        • Since when did the unavailability of a MSFT product

          Keep the ABM crowd from making a host of negative comments?
          You are obviously not who the OP was speaking to.
          xuniL_z
      • Any review of windows 8 applies

        Just now with touch interface for all those non-touch applications you desperatly want to run on a tablet.
        ammohunt
        • Re: Any review of windows 8 applies

          "Just now with touch interface for all those non-touch applications you desperatly want to run on a tablet."

          Yep. My felings exactly.

          Virtually no Windows programs I run...or would run...are "touch centric"...so what benefit do I gain over my Dell Laptop, other than weight? And I don't care about weight. I'm not that infirm. I thought about buying one...but why? Then again...haven't found any tablet that does what I need to do.

          My laptop is a Dell studioXPS 16 Core i7 Win7 Ultimate 64-bit with 8GB of RAM, and a 500GB HD. Certainly going to out perform any Surface Pro...or any other tablet for that matter.
          IT_Fella