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