Microsoft Surface Pro Arrives In January For $US900

Microsoft Surface RT didn't quite live up to Microsoft's promise of a true next-generation device, but you know what might? Microsoft Surface Pro. The good news: the Intel-powered ultrabookish tablet mash-up will be out in just a couple of months. The bad news? It might cost more than you want to spend.

Microsoft announced today that Surface Pro will start at $US900 at launch for a 64GB version, while a 128GB version will run you $US1000. Both models come with 4GB RAM, a USB 3.0 port and run full Windows 8. That price also includes a fancy stylus, but not one of Microsoft's handy— and frankly, for this device, necessary — Touch or Type Covers. Those cost $US120 and $US130 respectively, meaning that to give yourself a true laptop replacement you're going to have to shell out at least $US1020.

For some perspective, that means the base, 64GB, 10.6-inch Surface Pro with keyboard cover will cost about the same as a comparably specced MacBook Air.

That seems like a tough sell. Microsoft had always been clear that Surface Pro would be priced comparably with ultrabooks, but that implies a pretty broad range of prices. A range that Surface Pro, it turns out, is near the top of. And while on the one hand you could argue that the innovative form is worth a premium over your standard 11-inch Dell, Microsoft's main concern right now should probably be getting Surface in the hands of the masses.

The company's biggest hardware challenge now, no matter how many dance-filled commercials it runs, is a knowledge deficit. Why take a flyer on a $US1000 hybrid device when you know for a fact that a comparable MacBook Air or Zenbook performs well for about the same price?

The Surface Pro might be the greatest technological marvel to come along since the rotisserie oven. Or it might be a disappointment. Either way, it's a leap of faith for buyers. In that sense, it's a whole lot like the original Xbox, another new entrant into a crowded field that was a longshot at best. Microsoft sold it at a loss for years, literal years, undercutting Sony and winning a massive install base in the process. And if Microsoft's already taking a massive hit on a $US1020 entry level price, well, maybe it was an ill-fated pursuit to start with.

Australian prices and release details have yet to be announced. We'll keep you posted. [Microsoft]


Comments

    I am sure it will be a great device (Windows 8 has won me over) but for the price I would probably pick the Air or an Ultrabook

      But if you go for an Air, for example, you'll only get a 1366x768 screen, whereas the SurfacePro will have a fullHD screen and you will have a larger, less portable device that is still more expensive - $1099 vs $1020. A new Zenbook would make a better case but it is still bigger and heavier and, like the Air, lacks a touchscreen.

        What I was saying is that if I was spending that much money on a device, I would probably be more likely to get an ultrabook than the Pro.

        I am talking as somebody who would like to buy an ultrabook. My interest in the Pro was as an ultrabook alternative, not a high end tablet; the touchscreen didn't really factor in.

          Fair enough. I'd be the same, regardless of price, which is why I bought an ultrabookish thing instead of waiting for this. I actively dislike touchscreens on my computer - I need my screen to be pristine for work.

      I was expecting them to be $1,300+ so getting the 128Gb for a grand is a delight

        I think CES is going to have a lot of Windows 8 machines, and I think the Surface Pro is going to be at the premium end.

          If any of them have the built in kick stand and the keyboard covers like the Surface, I'll be interested. Otherwise, no dice.

    My opinion is that Microsoft are following Apple's strategy of positioning this product as something of a luxury or even Veblen good. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out. It is a quality-built device (I'm talking physically here, please spare me any subjective arguments about the OS) and I think it'll sell quite well.

    But can it play Crysis? :P
    Anyway, I think it's priced pretty well. Cheaper than I expected. I hope the Aussie price isn't too much higher.
    So what if it isn't cheaper than MacBook air? It does so much more (and less in certain areas too). If I got a Surface Pro, I'd set up a dock sort of thing for it. Have a USB hub, external hard drive, keyboard and mouse, speakers, monitor. Could use it as a tablet, laptop (sort of) and a desktop. For only $1000. Well, probably $1100 in aus I'd expect.But yeah, comparing it to a MacBook air is a little unfair. I understand why it's done, because the Air is the leader in portable PCs. They're pretyty much 2 completely different types of devices though. At least no one's complaining about it costing way more than an iPad though.

      I do not think that the comparison to ultrabooks, such as the MBA, is a valid comparison - tablets and ultrabooks are different devices with differing strengths and weaknesses.

      I am curious - I am reading that neither the RT nor Pro has 3G/4G or GPS. Is that correct? If so, don't you think that both are somewhat overpriced, albeit that each includes Office?

        Regarding the comparisons - it didn't stop people comparing the Surface RT to x86 laptops/ultrabooks despite it being squarely aimed to compete with iOS/Android... except people were happy to accept that comparison!

        GPS is a big issue for me but a 64Gb iPad without GPS or 3G is only $150 cheaper and I can see at least $150 worth of reasons to choose a Surface Pro over an iPad. SurfacePro turns the whole app ecosystem on its head - there may be hundreds of thousands of iPad apps but compared to the vast library of windows software it is a barren wasteland.

        Realistically, I don't think I'd want yet another data plan in my life so, even if 3G was a no cost option, I don't think I'd take it. It is so easy to tether my phone that I see zero value in a 3G tablet. I was surprised to learn recently that if you want GPS on your iPad, you have to buy a 3G model. I had assumed it came with all of them.

    Take my money - now!
    For the money, I would not even look sideways at a MacBook Air - I mean really why would you bother?

      I'd bother. you get a device where you can do real work on your lap (surface would struggle with the whole lap thing by design), and you get a superior keyboard and trackpad all in a package that is actually about the same size. You lose tablet functionality, but are you really gonna be touching office that much when none of it is really touch optimised?

        People have reported using Surface on their lap just fine. With MBA you don't have an option to use in tablet mode, it doesn't magically turn itself into an iPad. The only compromise with Surface is that the trackpad isn't as good, but you have touch for that. The TypeCover is a fantastic keyboard I've heard, so I would say it's equal in that category too.

        Does the MacBook Air run Win8 and does it have a touch screen?
        The 2 very major reasons why I (and other) will want a Surface Pro and not even bother looking at an Air.
        And I still can't my windows apps running on that Apple OS....

          The MacBook Air will actually run Windows 8, you just have to pay extra for a copy to install.

          "And I still can't my windows apps running on that Apple OS...."

          Fair point, but the opposite equally applies. I've spent a minor fortune on buying apps for my iPad and iPhone . . . and I am not alone. What is the incentive for the millions of people who are in the iOS eco-system or Android eco-system to change to Windows? The problem that MS confronts is that tablet devices for other eco-systems have been around for a few years now and I suspect that many people are already committed to those other eco-systems with no desire to move.

            Got your point but...
            I too have dozens of iOS apps - maybe $100 worth - I have no problem dropping them - what's $100?
            But (very big but) I have thousands of dollars worth of Win application/programs that I would love to put on a tablet - I suspect many other people feel the same.
            So what's the real cost of changing ecosystems - bugger all?

          I believe the mba can run windows 8, and therefore all the windows apps. it doesn't have a touchscreen, which wouldn't phase me but is clearly a significant barrier for you. I think that's a windows 8 problem though. nobody was clamoring for touch on a laptop before windows 8, and there is a vocal group who think it should stay that way. I don't think we are at a point where one device is practical enough for all purposes. At this stage, I'd much rather have a phone, tablet, pc than phone and psuedo pc tablet thingo.

      Totally agree. But we have to keep in mind, we're comparing the specs of a product launching in Jan, with a product which has been out for quite a while. Every reason to suspect APple will bump up the specs of the MBA (therefore value) after the Surface is released

    That's actually cheaper than I was expecting.. I'll definitely be getting one when it comes out. To have a tablet that can truly be a laptop replacement is perfect for my needs! Using the MacBook air as a comparison is ridiculous.. is the Air touchscreen? No. Can you fold the keyboard back on the Air? No... well, not unless you break it.

    If you want similar functionality, you'd need to buy an Air AND an iPad... which will cost FAR more than the Surface Pro.

    The only downside... no cellular. But it's easy enough to tether to your 4G mobile.

    Q. Can you play with in stores in Australia
    A. No

    Q. Can I buy it from stores in Australia.
    A. No.

    Q. Can I choose different RAM/CPU/GPU during purchase?
    A. No.

    Q. Well.. how would you compare it with other products (iPad or Laptop).
    A. It Depends.

    Q. Do you have marketing staff that you actually pay on a full time basis.
    A. Yes.

    Q. Can you fire them.
    A. It Depends.

      Q. Can you fire up a browser and find a multitiude of reviews from trusted sites like Anandtech?
      A. Yes

      I haven't personally inspected any recent product I've purchased before the purchase, including my iPad.

      Last edited 30/11/12 12:32 pm

      An employee at the Microsoft "Surface Experience Centre" kiosk in Carindale told me that the Surface will be available in retail stores before the end of the year, and the Surface Pro will be available in retail when it launches.

    No 3G or 4G so i cant justify my company paying for it :(

    "The company’s biggest hardware challenge now, no matter how many dance-filled commercials it runs, is a knowledge deficit. Why take a flyer on a $US1000 hybrid device when you know for a fact that a comparable MacBook Air or Zenbook performs well for about the same price?"

    you can't really argue about knowledge deficit. that's a temporary state. in my view, the Pro is worth the extra $$$, as everything is geared toward BYOD, and touch interfaces these days. in my view, it's a pretty solid product to future-proof your infrastructure. an Air or Zenbook wouldn't really be the same.

    Why would I buy an air though, when I can get full PC functionality in a tablet?

    Loving the Surface RT. cant wait to be able to connect to Citrix and AD.

    I'd happily pay $999 for a Surface Pro. It will replace my laptop and I do not currently have a tablet. Seems great for a well specced device that fills everything I need.

    Given I don't game on PC, I'll also be setting up a monitor and bluetooth keyboard/mouse on a desk for this.

    Where I live and in my line of work most people use tablets as a device that compliments their main machine as the tablet form factor is good for some task and not for other with the greates benefit being that most tablets are ultra portable and ultra light. Since the Nexus 7 and iPad Mini I have seen most people move to the 7-8 inch form factor for the benefits of size and weight. As a previous user of the iPad 2/3. Any long use of the iPad which doesn't involve resting the IPad on something is impossible without some fatigue. As a tech love and user of the Surface RT for about 2 Weeks now I don't find the any benefit of the Surface form factor. It's too large and heavy to be used as a tablet for any long period and can't be used on your lap like a regular laptop. So if I am spending all my time at a desk to us my Surface than what are the benefits over a laptop. Would jump at 7 inch RT tablet that was as light as th iPad mini.

      On the fatigue front, it is an interesting situation, isn't it? I just started reading a hard-cover book, after probably more than a year of only reading from my Kindle. The book must weigh twice as much as my Playbook yet I always manage to find a comfortable way to hold it, something I struggle with when I am using the Playbook.

      Maybe my brain is just attuned to sending extra energy to my arm when it sees I have a heavy book but the Playbook doesn't trigger the same autonomous reaction? It's definitely a weird thing, whatever is going on.

    Also I think WP8 is a beautiful operating system and should have been used for Window Tablets instead of RT and I think that Modern UI should have been used for Intel PC's only. I think universal apps between phone and tablet would have been much better that between tablet and PC. WP8 is a such a light weight and efficient OS that it could be used in many size form factors and at a very competitive price.

    That's pretty much the price I was expecting. I'm by no means writing it off yet.

    This is a little cheaper than I expected but my big problem is that more than a month after release, I have never seen a Surface, much less had a chance to try one out, so there is simply no way I would even consider parting with my money. It's hard enough already to know how my music software or 3DS Max is going to run on a new machine but to buy one sight unseen is the equivalent of buying a car without taking it for a test drive.

    I like the idea of including a stylus as it might allow you to work at native res on the 1080p screen, which would be fantastic. But again, unless I had the chance to try it out for myself, I would never consider taking a punt that it would be OK.

    Top end of ultrabooks? WTF? This isn't that expensive compared to them. What is the problem, I really don't get it. This is a full computer and is priced the same way. Seems like a decent prospect.
    I'll wait for the reviews of how well it performs rather than this uninformed price based speculation.

    $900

    thats exactly where i thought it would sit.
    so $1K in aus?
    im also glad that that doesnt include the keyboard.
    i didnt like the way that the big bundle for the RT was bundled with the balck keyboard only. this seemed really inflexible.
    id imagine that a lot of people would want the type cover for this and the choice of colour.

    when can we preorder.
    ive been waiting

    I personally can't wait for the release of the Pro. The 3g/4G isn't an issue as I believe it comes with a USB port so a wireless dongle can be used. And the fact that I won't lose my excel formulas when I transfer to the Pro is awesome.

    For some perspective, that means the base, 64GB, 10.6-inch Surface Pro with keyboard cover will cost about the same as a comparably specced MacBook Air.

    That's a flawed comparison, really. The Surface seems to be pitched at people who've bought tablets, but haven't been able to move their digital life fully onto it, still relying on a laptop for the heavy duty stuff. Really, it's designed to replace both your iPad and your MacBook Air, and yes, pitched at around the same price of the MacBook Air. Looking at it from the other direction, though, it's about $20 more than an iPad 64GB + wifi (with keyboard).

    Comparing it to a single platform when it's trying to muscle a new niche between the two doesn't really capture the concept, and is doing it a disservice. Of course, it could still be absolute rubbish, but it could be the mobile computing holy grail, too. That certainly seems to be the target.

    What I want to know is what the battery life is like. An x86 tablet in that kind of form factor is either going to have a limited battery life or it's going to be very efficient (or possibly underpowered). I'd be interested in upgrading from my Surface RT to a Pro, but I expect a big battery life from a tablet.

      the Surface twitter account tweeted that it would be roughly 1/2 that of the RT, so you'd be looking at 4 hours of heavy usage, 5-6hours of light to moderate.

        So in realistic, non-marketing terms, maybe 2 hours heavy usage and 3.5-4 hours light usage.
        Well, that's about what I expected. Still not good enough though :( but it's x86, what can you do?

          No, I'm gonna say 4 hours of real world, heavy usage. While still ivy bridge, the processor is 10w, rather than the usual 17w.

    My Vaio died this week, so although I was holding out for the Surface Pro - and the price seems a good one to me - I've had to get a 13" Asus Zenbook Prime (Win7) instead. Now just hoping I haven't wasted money on my Carbonite subscription.

    Wow, some of you people are clueless. Microsoft isn't marketing this at you guys, it is marketing it at Business. And hell, it is still a lot cheaper than many were thinking. The reason for this? The version of Windows 8 for the Surface can be joined to a domain. RT cannot. RT = Consumer, Pro = Business. Hence the PRO in the title. It isn't hard to figure out.

    When are people going to work out that this is more than just an ultrabook!

    $1020 with touch cover...GIDDY UP!

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