Surface Pro: Heart of a PC, body of a tablet, price tag of a Mac

The Microsoft Surface Pro tablet will debut in January, Microsoft reps confirmed today. 

The Microsoft Surface Pro tablet.

Microsoft announced the sales price and launch window for the Surface Pro, the latest addition to the Surface tablet line

According to Microsoft, the Surface Pro – actual name: Surface with Windows 8 Pro – will retail at two price points: $899 for a 64 GB model and $999 for a 128 GB edition. (Want the Touch Cover keyboard? You'll have to buy it separately.) The device, which is intended for IT professionals and design types, should arrive in early January – too late, it's worth noting, to really capitalize on the holiday shopping rush. 

"Surface with Windows 8 Pro will come with Intel’s next generation Core i5 processor," Microsoft's Panos Panoy wrote in a blog post today. "This chip will give Surface with Windows 8 Pro a graphics boost for its 10.6-inch 16:9 ClearType display that runs at a 1920 x 1080 full HD resolution. Surface with Windows 8 Pro also includes a full-size USB 3.0 port. Its Mini DisplayPort can drive an external display up to 2560 x 1440 resolution." 

The big question here, of course, is whether the hefty price on the deluxe Surface device will scare away prospective users. Even the base-level Surface, which sells for $499 without the Touch Cover, struck some onlookers as a little too expensive, especially since most people do want the $120 Touch Cover – that nifty little add-on is a big selling point for the Surface. 

But as we noted above, the Surface Pro is really a device for business users, for whom power and capability are more important than price.

"This is an enterprise play, not a consumer play, at least for now," Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Gartner, told Matt Hamblen of Computerworld today. 

In related news, Microsoft recently announced it has sold 40 million licenses for Windows 8 since the October launch of the new operating system. But as John P. Mello Jr. of PC World notes, there's plenty of disagreement about whether that figure is good news for Microsoft or not. Some onlookers, for instance, are saying that the "disappointing" numbers actually fell well below internal Microsoft projections.

For more tech news, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut.

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