Microsoft announces Surface Pro tablet pricing, makes us appreciate Tim Cook all over again

Microsoft has announced pricing and availability for their Surface Pro tablet/laptop hybrid -- tabtop? laplet? -- and it's going to hit on February 9 and start at $899. Unlike the Surface RT, the Surface Pro runs full-on Windows 8 and includes an Intel Core processor (and has the fans to prove it). Our own Daniel Rubino from Windows Phone Central lays it out:

Featuring a Core i5 or Core i7 Intel processor (according to Cnet) with either 64GB or 128GB of storage, the high-end device with a 1080P display wont come with a Touch or Type Pad, requiring an extra purchase. However, users will get the pressure sensitive pen for note taking.

If an iPad isn't enough, and a MacBook Air is too much, you could argue that something like the Surface Pro might be just right. I'm not enjoying Windows 8 yet, so my Windows boxes are staying on 7 for the time being, but I'm eager to give Microsoft's first party version a try. I don't think Surface RT nailed it. In its attempts to be no-compromises, it ended up completely compromised. But it was version one, and Microsoft's trademark typically involves stumbling on version one, persevering, and killing it on version two or three.

When it comes to the pricing, however, what springs to mind is just how important Tim Cook has been for Apple. It's hard to imagine Microsoft is getting the same price breaks on components that Apple enjoys with their hundreds of millions of units of scale, or that their logistics and supply chain management is anything approaching what Apple's put together over the course of the last decade. Under Cook, that's been the element that lets Apple manufacture the best consumer electronics hardware in the world, do it for less than anyone else, and sell it at margins that have made them one of the most profitable businesses this side of oligopolies that control limited fossil fuel resources.

That leaves competitors with cheaper parts, lower margins, or higher prices -- they get to pick two of the three. And it's not like Microsoft can license Windows 8 to themselves on the Surface to make their usual, obscene software margins. It's going to be a learning experience and a struggle, and it'll be interesting and exciting to see how this new drive into hardware goes for them. Anyone planning to eschew an iPad or a MacBook for a Surface Pro?

Source: Microsoft via Windows Phone Central

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, ZEN and TECH, MacBreak Weekly. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter, App.net, Google+.

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There are 25 comments. Add yours.

jlperez67 says:

I will stay with iPad and iTunes. No need for tons of viruses and spyware that will come in the Surface.

crazygonzo says:

If the world (by that I mean the majority) decides to use something then others will try to exploit that, if people in the future will use Apple products then viruses will be a threat on that platform (maybe sooner than we think), if Windows RT version will become popular then viruses will be created for it someday, right now Windows 8 Pro look pretty secure but as every other Windows it will fight the endless onslaught. It's inevitable.

mdmitchell13 says:

The reason there are less viruses on mac products is that they are one locked so you cannot install any 3rd party apps(if enabled), and 2 macs in general do not have as large of a user base as windows worldwide... therefore a person deciding to make a virus can either choose to write one for an OS with many users or an OS with little users. With Macs becoming more popular your chances of a virus being written becomes greater..

okli says:

RT... stand for Run Time actually... RENE... but some say that it stands "for Re-Tards" ;-)

eric6052 says:

$899 is more than Im willing to pay for something like the Surface Pro. If you consider it's another $129 for a Touch cover and you're approaching a grand. Personally I would get a Mini mad a Chrome Book and a Kindle Paperwhite. I would be spending less money and have dedicated devicesinstead of 1 giant compromise,

StuartV says:

$899 + $129 is "approaching a grand"?? Is that Apple Math?? LOL!

With a Mini, a Chrome book, and a Kindle, you'll have 3 little compromises. And no ability to run ANY Windows app that you want. If you don't do enough computing to need more than what those devices provide, then you probably shouldn't buy a Surface Pro. For those folks who typically travel with a tablet AND a laptop, the Surface Pro *could* turn out to be the perfect one-device solution.

Jenna Jameson says:

Stuart.....you sound a bit defensive. And the "Apple math" snipe was weak.

Maybe he doesn't need to run ANY Windows app. Right now you can run PP, Exel and Word with ease on any iPad, which are the most widely used programs by MS.

If you feel buying something "approaching a grand" then do it dude.

StuartV says:

Jenna,

You may have noticed the letters "LOL" right after my Apple Math comment. In Internetspeak, that means "Laugh Out Loud". It is generally used to connote that a previous statement was (intended to be) funny. In other words, a joke. I hope that clears that up for you.

I have not tried it myself, so please confirm: On an iPad you can create a PowerPoint presentation, using all the same features that you can when running PowerPoint on a Windows PC? And you can create an Excel spreadsheet using ALL the same Excel features (of course, including things like embedding other Office objects) that you can when running Excel on a PC? Likewise, for Word documents? I can run a mail merge from my Access DB mailing list and Word document?

Thanks for the info.

Jenna Jameson says:

Wow, you have lots of knowledge on this device and it sure looks like you have done your research. And the things you can do on it......I assume you are one of the lucky people that actually own one, right? Wait, it is not available yet.

I heard the 2015 Porche Cayenne is absolutely fantastic. Have not driven one yet, but I read about it on a blog.......SOLD! Good enough for me.

LOL!

teepeeayy says:

Snide comments aside, there is kinda a point to be made. If your corporate standard is Windows with Office, but you want the portability, then perhaps this is worth a look. If you're a road warrior, the ability to actually attach a file to email can be quite useful.

crazygonzo says:

With the price, limited availability and missing the holiday shopping season with Pro it almost looks as if the don't want to succeed. Weird but they probably like to make it even harder for themselves.

crazygonzo says:

I hope that the RT version will be improved and will become the main direction for developers. Screw the legacy apps, RT has two advantages - weight and battery life. Only RT has the potential to become a great tablet so just give me a 128GB model, bundle the TouchCover instead of Office and fix some minor shortcomings with 2nd gen.

iSRS says:

I'm glad you approached the subject I am starting to feel. This tablet isn't an iPad competitor. It is a MacBook Air competitor. Full (non mobile based) OS (I know, you could argue Windows 8 is, to it's glory/fault, mobile based), Full PC apps, fixed storage space.

This is Microsoft's take on the MacBook Air - Not an ultra book, not a tablet. But a combo of both.

Interesting if it is enough to pull out a win in the enterprise IT department.

SockRolid says:

Re: "That leaves competitors with cheaper parts, lower margins, or both."

Bingo. For decades, Apple has suffered all manner of logical and illogical criticism for pricing Macs higher than Wintel PCs. I think the company is happy staying in the upper range of the personal computer market, for now anyway. But not in mobile.

It took Apple 6 or 7 years to get the kind of volume discounts it gets on components like flash memory. It all started with the 2005 iPod nano, which replaced Apple's most popular iPod at the time, the iPod mini. The nano became Apple's best selling device, they were able to get better and better deals on flash memory as sales ramped up, the deals got better as iPhone sales skyrocketed, and with iPad sales volumes, they've cornered the flash memory market.

Good luck fighting over the remaining worldwide flash memory production, Microsoft. You'll need to out-bid your competitors, which doesn't do wonders for your margins. And good luck cutting deals for touchscreens, processors, and all those other expensive components. You can't enjoy economy of scale when sales volumes are "modest," now can you?

shingi_70 says:

You ignore the fact that unlike the IPad or surface RT this is a computer computer.

CORYK333 says:

I've never heard that term before....how does it differ from a "computer"???

benjimen says:

I use my Windows-7 system primarily to get stuff to transfer onto my iPad/iPhones. The thought of getting it and consuming it on the same device is tempting, but I wouldn't consider a purchase until the 3rd-gen version comes out.

FRC01 says:

Clearly, Rene, you don’t enjoy anything that has a soul and, is exciting to use. As much as I love the iPad’s and MB Air’s design; the software is boring and without a soul. Windows 8 is new and exciting. Microsoft did a fine job of bringing something fresh and exciting.
Surface RT is far more capable than an iPad or an Android tablet. It doesn’t have a retina display but you hardly notice it if you are not comparing the two side by side. Most of the things you need an app for can be easily accessed through websites. Yes, you can ‘pin them’ to the start screen. There is no comparison between the software.
I would clearly like to know what is that you are not enjoying about the Windows 8.

shn'g says:

Lame article. I get why people don't like surface or it doesn't fit their needs but what is the point of this article? Just to bash it?

FRC01 says:

No, the point is to start a conversation so more people can visit the site. It is not a bad idea if they can provide solid facts. Right now, all I see is their personal opinion without a shred of real evidence. I think iPad’s are highly overrated. It is a good tablet with its fair share of disappointments.

bb10_fan says:

"and Microsoft's trademark typically involves stumbling on version one" unfortunately it tends to stumble on version two as well :) They are like the Airbus A380, huge monster that need incredible take-off path

FRC01 says:

You went defensive pretty easily. Apple’s trademark is to take a single innovation and hammer it down over and over again. Apple’s marketing strategy created a mind set for people to think they make the best hardware and software. I watched a YouTube video about a person pretended that iPhone 4 was actually iPhone 5. I tried it with a couple of people “saying iPad2 was actually iPad 3 and the iPad 3 was actually iPad 2. Funny thing is people were telling me ipad 2 has a brighter display than the iPad 3?

CORYK333 says:

Please, tell us more......

ChrisFricke says:

The Surface Pro is a laptop. If you think of it that way it helps understand where it fits. I'll be getting one for the office to replace my ancient Lenovo which has had touch capabilities with Win7 since the beginning. In fact I think I bought it during the Vista days and later reloaded with Win7 (2008?). No matter. Some members of my team have newer Macbooks - still no touch capability. Interesting.

Regardless, the Surface Pro will be my enterprise laptop - joined to the domain, managed by group policies, the works. I'm not saying everyone will do that but part of my job is to check this stuff out and see if it's truly "enterprise ready". Bleeding edge and all.

I've been using an Asus Transformer Prime (with the keyboard dock) and it's pretty good (way better than the iPad) but the experience is still a bit too removed from "business" to be viable as a laptop replacement. I'm not knocking the iPad - it's been great as a mobile device for specific applications and focused use cases but tablets, in general, are not very good as a general computing devices in the workplace.

The Surface Pro, with a full OS, should be the right balance between function and portability. Based on what I've read and seen so far, however, I'd probably never recommend Surface Pro as a consumer device. I'll know for sure when I get my hands on one.

richard451 says:

it can't be all that bad, after all iMore (an Apple-centric news site) is covering the mere announcement of it.