January 22, 2013, 3:54 PM — Microsoft says Surface for Windows 8 Pro laptop/tablets are rolling off the assembly lines, meaning that availability of the hardware Microsoft thinks Windows 8 should run on can't be far off.
The device sports a removable touch screen, a cover that doubles as a keyboard and a kickstand to prop up the screen for laptop mode. With the cover flipped back, the device becomes a tablet suitable for using Windows 8's touch-driven Modern interface as opposed to its desktop.
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But is it right for your business?
Here are some questions you should ask and the answers you'll want in order to make an informed opinion about whether to buy Surface Pro for your organization.
What does it cost?
Either $899 with a 64GB hard drive or $999 with 128GB hard drive. Keyboard/covers are extra. Type covers with keys that actually depress cost $130. Touch Covers with a static keyboard surface that is touch-sensitive cost $120.
How do you buy it in volume?
CEO Steve Ballmer said months ago that Surface devices would be sold only in the Microsoft Store online or brick and mortar Window Stores. Since then Surface RT -- the low-powered, limited Windows 8 tablet -- has gone on sale in the big consumer electronics stores. But there haven't been any formal changes announced by Microsoft to do the same with Surface Pro.
How can you manage a fleet of these things?
Via System Center Configuration Manager SP1 and Windows Intune.
Will it support all legacy business applications?
Microsoft says any apps that run on Windows 7 will also run on Windows 8, which also supports Windows Store applications that are based on Windows Runtime and cater to touch.
How well is it made?