Microsoft Sets Launch Date, Pricing For Surface Pro

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Microsoft said Tuesday that Surface Pro, the x86-based version of its flagship tablet, is set to launch Feb. 9 at a starting price of $899.

According to Microsoft, Surface Pro will be available through its retail stores, website, and retail partners Staples and Best Buy. Microsoft did not say whether the new tablet will sell through its channel and did not immediately respond to CRN's request for comment.

Unlike Microsoft's Surface RT tablet, which is aimed largely at the consumer market, the new Surface Pro is targeted at the enterprise. The device runs Windows 8 Pro -- the more-business-focused version of Microsoft's next-generation Windows 8 operating system -- and runs an Intel x86-based Core i5 processor, meaning it integrates more easily into existing Windows-based infrastructures.

[Related: Is Microsoft Investing Up To $3B In Dell Buyout?]

Microsoft said Surface Pro will come in 64-GB and 128-GB models. The Touch Cover and Type Cover keyboards are sold separately, for $120 and $130, respectively.

Apple, by comparison, offers the highest-end model of its latest iPad for $829.

The new Surface Pro tablet is heavier and thicker than the Surface RT, weighing in at 2 pounds and measuring 0.53 of an inch thick. That said, the tablet is being positioned by Microsoft as the higher-end version of the two, providing "the power and performance of a laptop" in a smaller package.

Microsoft thrust itself in the competitive tablet arena back in October, with the launch of Surface RT. While the company itself has been mum on specific sales figures for Surface RT, analysts have dubbed the tablet's debut a modest one.

Earlier this month, UBS analyst Brent Thill slashed his initial fourth-quarter sales projections for Surface RT from 2 million to 1 million units, attributing the drop to the dominance of Apple's iPad and iPad mini during the holiday season.

Thill also suggested Microsoft's limited distribution model for Surface RT was largely to blame for its lackluster sales. The company relied too exclusively on its own retail locations for selling Surface RT, a move that likely stifled the tablet's adoption, he said.

Many Microsoft channel partners were surprised by the company's decision to not sell Surface RT through the channel and considered the move a strategic mistake. Like UBS' Thill, some partners felt Microsoft's decision to sell the tablet strictly through retail outlets would limit sales of the device, particularly among the enterprise.


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