Microsoft Surface Pro Will Be Out in January—And Costs More Than a MacBook Air

By Brian Barrett on at

Microsoft Surface RT didn't quite live up to Microsoft's promise of a true next-generation device, but you know what might? Microsoft Surface Pro. The good news: the Intel-powered ultrabookish tablet mash-up will be out in just a couple of months. The bad news? It might cost more than you want to spend.

Microsoft announced today that Surface Pro will start at USD$900 (£560) at launch for a 64GB version, while a 128GB version will run you USD$1000 (£650). Both models come with 4GB RAM, a USB 3.0 port, and run full Windows 8. That price also includes a fancy stylus, but not one of Microsoft's handy—and frankly, for this device, necessary—Touch or Type Covers. Those cost £99 and £109, respectively, meaning that to give yourself a true laptop replacement you're going to have to shell out some serious money.

For some perspective, that means the base, 64GB, 10.6-inch Surface Pro with keyboard cover will cost more than a comparably spec'd MacBook Air.

That seems like a tough sell. Microsoft had always been clear that Surface Pro would be priced comparably with ultrabooks, but that implies a pretty broad range of prices. A range that Surface Pro, it turns, out, is near the top of. And while on the one hand you could argue that the innovative form is worth a premium over your standard 11-inch Dell, Microsoft's main concern right now should probably be getting Surface in the hands of the masses.

The company's biggest hardware challenge now, no matter how many dance-filled commercials it runs, is a knowledge deficit. Why take a flyer on a USD$1000 hybrid device when you know for a fact that comparable MBA or Zenbook performs well and costs less?

The Surface Pro might be the greatest technological marvel to come along since the rotisserie oven. Or it might be a disappointment. Either way, it's a leap of faith for buyers. In that sense, it's a whole lot like the original Xbox, another new entrant into a crowded field that was a longshot at best. Microsoft sold it at a loss for years, literal years, undercutting Sony and winning a massive install base in the process. And if Microsoft's already taking a massive hit on a USD$1,020 entry level price, well, maybe it was an ill-fated pursuit to start with. [Microsoft]