Surface Pro launch date announced; will this be your next tablet?

Source: Microsoft

When Microsoft first announced the Surface I was intrigued, but the more I learned about Windows RT the less interested I became. I decided to wait to see what the Surface Pro offered.

And now it's finally here, or at least finally has a ship date and price. Microsoft says the Surface Pro (technically it's called Surface Windows 8 Pro) will arrive on February 9th and the price starts at $899 for the 64 GB model. Microsoft seems to be keeping things pretty simple because, at least from what they've announced so far, the only decision you have to make is whether you want 64GB or 128 GB of storage (the 128 GB model is $999). Surface Pro comes with a third generation Intel Core i5 CPU with Intel HD Graphics 4000 and 4 GB of RAM. It's got a 1920x1080 10 inch screen which is nice, but weighs a full 2 lbs which is pretty darn heavy for a tablet. You can check the Surface site for full specs.

I'm sure Microsoft hopes you'll use one of its covers as a stand. Those aren't included and will add $110-$130 to the price of the tablet. Microsoft is also announcing a new "Wedge Touch Mouse Surface Edition" ($69.95) for when you're using your Surface with a cover in 'laptop mode'. It supports 4-way touch scrolling and is styled to complement the Surface Pro's "VaporMg" casing.

Microsoft will launch the Surface Pro through Best Buy and Staples in addition to its online and retail stores. It'll be a nice change to be able to go into a Best Buy on launch day and put my hands on one.

Will the Surface Pro be your next tablet? Let us know in the comments below. As for me, I'm not sure yet. The price is better than I expected it to be but more than I'd hoped. It just so happens that Ars Technica just reviewed Acer's Iconia W700 tablet. It has specs that seem quite similar to the Surface Pro (we don't yet know the speed of the Pro's i5) for the same price ($999 with 128 GB of storage) but it comes with a bluetooth keyboard and a docking station.

I've been running Windows 8 on my laptop and desktop since launch and I like it, but honestly I never use any of its more tablet-ish features. I'm on the classic desktop pretty much all day every day and just use the Start screen as a launcher. Before I commit to a Windows 8 Pro tablet I'd like to hear what the real-world experience is like. How well does touch work on regular Windows programs as opposed to Windows Store apps? I'm not sure I'm ready to throw down $1,000 to find out.

I'd also love to see some of the weight shaved off these things. If I'm going to buy a tablet I want to be comfortable using it in tablet mode; otherwise it makes more sense to buy a laptop with a touch screen.

So I'll probably wait to see what the next generation of Windows 8 Pro tablets looks like. Give me a break on either price or weight, Microsoft, and you'll have yourself a new customer.

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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