Microsoft confirmed early Tuesday afternoon on its website that the Surface Pro tablet with Windows 8, better known as simply "Surface Pro," will be released on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013.
Microsoft will start selling the new device through its own physical and online stores, but customers can also find the Surface Pro at a range of retailers and resellers, including Staples, Best Buy, and Future Shop.
Unlike the Surface RT tablet released in December, the Surface Pro is a fully-realized tablet-laptop notebook hybrid that can run the new Windows 8 operating system from Microsoft. 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.
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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.
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.