Because it uses an Intel x86 chip rather than an ARM chip, the Surface Pro runs Windows 8 Pro, so unlike the Surface RT tablet that debuted in October 2012, it can run standard Windows 7 applications in addition to the full-screen “Metro” apps that Windows 8 and RT debuted. The Surface RT can run only Metro apps, plus special versions of some included Microsoft Office 2013 apps.
Microsoft said: “Work like never before on Surface Windows 8 Pro. Take the power and performance of a laptop and carry it around wherever you go. Perfect as your one device – in the office, on the road, or at home – it can run Windows 8 applications, as well as current Windows 7 desktop applications.”
The Surface Pro costs US899 for a model with 64GB of RAM and US$999 for a model with 128GB. Both use Intel’s Core i5 processor. For comparison, a 64GB iPad costs $759, and a 64GB Surface RT tablet costs US$799. Both Surface Pro tablets include a stylus for precise movements on the tablets’ touchscreens, which also support finger gestures. Like the Surface RT tablet, a Touch Cover with an embedded keyboard – a must to be able to use traditional Windows applications – adds US$130 to the price. The thicker Type Cover, whose keys depress as you strike them, also costs US$130.
Microsoft has also introduced an optional Bluetooth touchpad called the Wedge Touch Mouse for US$70. The Surface tablet also works with third-party Bluetooth keyboards, mice, and touchpads. Both the Type Cover and Touch Cover include an embedded touchpad below their embedded keyboards.
The Surface Pro tablets will be available in the US and Canada with availability in other, unspecified countries to follow at later dates.
Microsoft also announced that a 64GB version of the Surface RT tablet without an included Touch Cover will be launching as well. Microsoft did not disclose pricing of the 64GB model without the bundled Touch Cover.
There will also be three limited edition Touch Covers with laser-etched designs consisting of ‘year of the snake’, ‘skulls’ and ‘flowers’.
Microsoft is also increasing the number of countries in which the Surface RT tablets are sold, adding Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland, in addition to the current availability in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and the United States.