Microsoft will ship the Surface Windows 8 Pro tablet with an Intel Core i5 processor on Feb. 9, with prices starting at US$899.
The tablet has a 10.6-inch screen and comes in models with 64GB and 128GB of storage. The tablet will include the Type Cover keyboard dock that doubles as a case.
The tablet will initially be sold in the U.S. through Microsoft retail stores, Best Buy and Staples, and also through retailers in Canada. The tablet will also be available at Microsoft's retail site.
Microsoft already offers the Surface RT tablet, which runs on Windows RT. That OS is for the ARM processor, while Windows 8 Pro in the new Surface tablet is for x86 processors from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices. Although both operating systems have the same look and feel, there are substantial differences in functionality and application compatibility.
While Surface RT was designed to be more of a tablet-only product, the Surface Windows 8 Pro tablet is intended to double as a laptop with the ability to run a full Windows OS and support for applications running on older Microsoft operating systems.
"Surface Windows 8 Pro provides the power and performance of a laptop in a tablet package and will run all Windows 8 applications as well as current Windows 7 desktop applications," wrote Panos Panay, general manager for Microsoft Surface, in a blog entry on the company's TechNet website.
The Surface Windows 8 Pro tablet weighs 0.9 kilograms and has a screen that can display images at 1920-by-1080-pixel resolution. The tablet is said to offer roughly five hours of battery life, partly due to the power-hungry Core i5 processor, which is based on Intel's latest Ivy Bridge microarchitecture and uses more power than the ARM processor in the RT tablet.
The Surface Windows 8 Pro has 4GB of RAM, cameras on the front and back, a USB 3.0 port, a micro-SDXC slot and a mini-DisplayPort slot. A stylus is also included with the tablet.
Microsoft also announced a stand-alone version of the 64GB Surface RT tablet, which will be available for $599. The tablet was previously available only with a Touch Cover for $699. Microsoft also said that the Surface RT tablet would soon become available in 13 European countries: Finland, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.
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