Microsoft was ready to introduce the Surface Pro this week in New York City to much fanfare, but after a few attempts to undermine its launch -- including Apple's move to release a new iPad with similar storage to the Surface Pro at a lower price on Tuesday -- Microsoft suffered the ultimate dagger to its much-ballyhooed midnight event at the hands of Blizzard Nemo.
In a statement given to Neowin.net, Microsoft said on Friday that it has cancelled its exclusive Surface Pro event at the Best Buy in Union Square in New York City.
"Surface Pro launch activities in NYC have been cancelled due to weather; our best wishes for everyone impacted by the blizzard," the Microsoft spokesperson said.
Preceding the official cancellation, Microsoft Surface team leader Panos Panay had tweeted on Thursday night that he would be unable to attend the event due to the snowstorm.
Given the blizzard warning for NYC area I'm super bummed I won't be able to be there to see the first #Surface Pros sold in Union Square.
— Panos Panay (@panos_panay) February 7, 2013
Blizzard Nemo, which is expected to dump 10 to 14 inches of snow on the tri-state area before it ends early Saturday afternoon, has impacted many businesses and events heading into this early February weekend.
Regardless, the winter storm will not impact Microsoft's plans to release the Surface Pro nationwide on Saturday, Feb. 9. Customers will be able to purchase the Surface Pro in 64 GB or 128 GB storage capacities through Microsoft's physical or online stores, as well as a number of retailers and resellers, including Staples, Best Buy, and Future Shop.
Unlike the Surface RT tablet Microsoft released in December, the Surface Pro is a fully-realized tablet-laptop notebook hybrid that can run the complete Windows 8 operating system. The components are packed into a dark titanium VaporMg case, measuring 275mm x 173mm x 13.5mm, and comes with a Surface pen for writing, and a built-in kickstand for hands-free use.
Still, the key differentiator between the Surface Pro and the Surface RT is the processor: Simply put, Intel's presence in the Surface Pro allows Microsoft's laptop to take full advantage of the new Windows 8 platform.
Microsoft's Surface RT was powered by an ARM processor, which simply can't achieve the computational speed of most modern laptops today. Microsoft believes it will have better luck with the Pro, which is powered by a beefier Ivy Bridge i5 Core processor with Intel's newest HD 4000 graphics and 4 GB of RAM.
The Surface Pro has the same 10.6-inch touchscreen as the RT model, but the Surface Pro's ClearType HD Full 1920 x 1080 pixel display resolution is significantly sharper than the RT's 1366 x 768 "ClearType HD" display. Better yet, the Surface Pro features 10 different points of multi-touch support, compared to just five points of multitouch support on the Surface RT.
Since the Surface Pro is a laptop, the Pro can only achieve roughly four to five hours of battery life, compared to the Surface RT's 8 to 9 hours of life. However, the Surface Pro is not inhibited by any incompatibilities between Windows 8 and the ARM processor in the Surface RT. This means the Surface Pro can run the full Windows 8 OS as well as any standard Windows desktop applications, including support for any legacy apps or Windows 7 programs, as well as all the new Windows Store apps.
The Surface Pro features two 720p HD Lifecams centered on the tablet's front and rear sides, as well as a USB 3.0 port, a micro SDXC card reader, a mini DisplayPort, stereo speakers, headphone jack, and a cover port. The laptop itself is packed with an ambient light sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, and support for wireless 802.11 a/b/g/n bands, as well as the instantaneous connections from Bluetooth 4.0.
Microsoft is selling the Surface Pro with 64 GB of storage for $899, and 128 GB of storage for $999. However, the Surface Pro is sold without its all-important keyboard; customers will have to buy those separately for $129. Microsoft sells its Limited Edition Touch Covers in red, magenta, and cyan flavors.
On Wednesday, Panos Panay and his Surface Team did answer a number of questions about the Surface Pro launch via Reddit -- we've attached some of the best questions and answers from that AMA session below.
Question: Can you explain the branding choice to use "RT" and "Pro." I am a Web Designer, and none of the people I work with understood that there was another version of Surface coming when RT first came out.
Answer: Thanks for asking this - Windows 8 introduced a lot of change from the UX to the app model to the store. Of course that all started with an expansion of the platforms we run on to include ARM. When we designed the new Windows runtime (WinRT) we designed it to be cross platform so new Windows 8 apps could run on both X86 and ARM platforms. Windows RT is what we called the version of Windows that runs on ARM because it is compatible with WinRT apps. You're asking a more general question and we haven't faced having to explain a range of platforms since the introduction of Windows NT and will keep investing in driving clarity.
Question: Why did Microsoft not work at improving the battery life of the Pro? Reviews put it between 4 to 5 hours of battery life, which is much lower than competitors. Surely something could have been done?
Answer: Awesome question. The product was designed to take full advantage of Windows 8 coupled with the Ivy Bridge core processor from Intel. We created a product that did not compromise speed, performance in any way. With that, we wanted to be the best notebook/laptop product in its class, but still deliver you the tablet form factor. This product is optimized in every way to take advantage of the full third-generation core i5 it runs, yet give the best battery life. If you compare it to say a MacBook Air, you will quickly see that pound for pound in battery size vs. battery life, you will find optimizations that puts Surface best in its class.
That said we picked a smaller battery to be sure we were able to give you the same performance and to keep it thin. This kept the weight under 2lbs, and still kept it thin enough to take advantage of our great Windows work for inking and give you a great inking experience (like pressure sensitive inking, ability to do kanji, great sketching). While these tradeoffs are challenges as much as they are opportunities, we think given the performance and experience you will be getting, it is an exciting product.
Question: Why no docking station?? You're so close to full desktop replacement here!
Answer: Hey, this is Andrew Hill, I lead the Mechanical team. The docking connection is a great question; I have been using my pre-production unit as my main machine for a while now. When I am at my desk I plug in a Mini Displayport and a USB cable and go to work. Others among us take advantage of docking station solutions that are available to drive displays over USB3.
Question: Why did you allocate the storage space in the way you did? Surely you could have anticipated the bad press you're currently getting for shipping with relatively low free storage space?
Answer: We designed Surface Pro (and the allocation of disk space on our systems) to have the power of full Windows 8, the ability to have a simplified and fast upgrade to full Office and the confidence of a recovery image already available on your device. Beyond the flexibility and confidence this provides, we also include an ability to extend your storage via microSDXC, USB 3.0 and SkyDrive (including 7GB of free storage). Windows does provide tools that allow you to free space by easily removing applications you are not using as well as move the recovery image to a USB thumbdrive. (UPDATE) We decided to ship a Pro 64GB sku as it provides full Windows 8 and enough storage for a number of large application installs such as games, productivity apps, etc., which usually run in the multiple GBs. It also provides you flexibility to extend storage should you need. If you plan to carry more personal items with you locally, our 128GB may be the better option for you.
Microsoft's Surface Pro is going on sale in the US and Canada on Feb. 9; the Redmond, Wash.-based software company has yet to announce further launch details for the Surface Pro, in regards to other markets and countries around the world.