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]