Will Microsoft's Surface Pro be worth the price?

The company plans and early-2013 release for the full-Windows version, which could appeal to agencies considering tablets. But $899 is a high price.

Microsoft has announced the starting price for its Surface Pro at $899, with availability in early 2013. This model might sound expensive, especially compared with the $499 starting price for the Surface with Windows RT. And even more so when considering that the RT Surface is too expensive to begin with.

Let’s examine that last part first. The introductory Surface with RT had an NVIDIA Tegra 3 Processor and a 32G hard drive, both of which were just adequate for the job. And they’re only adequate because Windows RT can only run the pre-installed software (Internet Explorer and a version of Office) and what was available to it from the Windows Store. Yet it is priced the same as fully-functioning tablets offered by competitors. No wonder it’s not available in stores -- customers can only get it straight from Microsoft.

Now, admittedly, the basic-level Surface Pro will have major improvements for this new, higher price. It will have an Intel Core i5 processor and 4G of memory (twice as much as the RT model) and a 64G hard drive. These make Surface Pro’s  performance almost twice that of Surface RT. Microsoft even upped the full-sized USB port (the thing I’ve praised the Surface for the most) to USB 3.0. The Surface Pro also will have a digital pen interface and “palm-block” technology, which the company claims will allow pen users to rest their hand on the device while writing with the pen. 

Agencies thinking of moving to Windows 8 and adopting the tablet form would likely want the Pro version.

But I still don’t know what Microsoft is thinking here. At first I didn’t know why it decided to release the hobbled RT version at all; my guess is somewhere down the line Redmond realized that the full version wasn’t going to be out by the end of the year, so this RT version was released to get some Christmas money. But if Microsoft wanted to maximize holiday sales of Surface RT, why announce that full version is coming at the very beginning of the holiday season? It’s anyone’s guess.

At any rate, if the new Surface does everything Microsoft says it will do, then it will be a good product. However, $899 might be too steep to wrest any market share away from its competitors.

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