Microsoft's first venture into the hardware business, the Surface RT, launched to mixed reviews last month. But for many observers it was only the warm-up act anyway.
Today, Microsoft released more details about its headline act: the upcoming Surface device with Windows 8 Pro.
The new Surface will debut in two editions in the United States and Canada: one with 64 GB of storage, priced at $899, a second with 128 GB for $999. Each model comes with a Surface pen but does not include Touch Cover or Type Cover add-ons ($120 and $130, respectively).
Surface General Manager Panos Panay also revealed additional specs for the Intel-powered device, which is capable of running the full spectrum of Windows desktop programs in addition to Windows Store apps:
Core i5 processor (clock speed not specified)
10.6" 9 ClearType with 1920x1080 full HD resolution
Full digitizer and ink support with Palm Block technology
Full-size USB 3.0 port
Mini DisplayPort (can drive an external display up to 2560 x 1440 resolution)
According to Panay, the Surface Pro will weigh "less than two pounds" and be less than 14 millimeters thick.
Presumably, the devices will continue to be sold exclusively through Microsoft's brick-and-mortar stores and its online Microsoft Store.
Microsoft's announcement didn't include pricing or distribution information for markets other than the United States and Canada. The company also remains mum on the actual on-sale date, although Microsoft's Tami Reller, the Chief Marketing and Financial Officer for Windows, announced earlier this week that the Surface Pro will be available in January 2013. At the initial unveiling of Surface last September, Microsoft said Surface Pro would arrive approximately 90 days after the General Availability of Windows 8, which would put it in late January.
The more powerful processor and higher-resolution display, along with full support for Windows desktop programs, should alleviate many of the concerns of early adopters who rejected the Surface RT. What's still unknown (and conspicuously absent from the new published specs) is battery life. It's unlikely that the Surface Pro can deliver all-day battery life in such a small package. We'll have to see how long it does last.