Windows 8 Update: 256GB Surface Pro coming to U.S. for $1,199

Also: Buying Microsoft Surface in bulk, luring ISVs to rewrite established business apps for Windows 8

The 256GB Surface Pro tablet that has been selling in Japan for the past few weeks will be available in the U.S. in four to six days, according to a listing on the Web site of reseller CDW.

With a keyboard added the device acts as a full Windows 8 touchscreen laptop. With the keyboard detached it’s a tablet/notebook.

For $1,199 (plus either $119 or $129 for one of two keyboard options) it’s not an inexpensive option, but the beefed up storage over the previous 128GB top-of-line Surface could make it an attractive option to businesses considering a shift to Windows 8. The device would be best suited to workers who travel and have touch-centric applications they rely on, but also work with traditional Windows mouse-and-keyboard apps.

RELATED: Microsoft: Desperately wooing developers with new app features, gifts 

OPTIMISM: Ballmer: Happiness is a Windows 8 device with a touchscreen 

MORE: 10 factors that hobbled Windows 8 and what Windows 8.1 might do to fix them 

The storage is in a solid state system, so there’s no hard drive.

According to The Next Web Microsoft says, “There will be limited availability of a 256GB version of Surface Pro in the U.S. exclusively through the commercial channel and the authorized Surface resellers.”

Buy in bulk

Microsoft is letting distributors, value added resellers and other resellers carry Surface devices to sell directly to their business customers so they don’t have to buy through Windows stores or stand on their heads to get special volume shipments through Microsoft itself.

Besides an easier purchase, what does that mean for business customers? An extended warranty, accidental damage coverage, asset tagging, custom imaging, kitting, onsite service and support, device recycling and data protection, according to the Surface Blog written by Cyril Belikoff, the director Surface marketing for Microsoft.

The first wave of resellers is CDW, CompuCom Systems, Inc., En Pointe Technologies, Insight Enterprises, Inc., SHI International Corp., Softchoice, Softmart, PC Connection, Inc., PCM, Inc. and Zones Inc., the blog says.

This is just the first phase, with the program being extended to other distributors and resellers in other countries over the next few months, Belikoff writes.

Rewriting apps for Windows 8

Microsoft has launched AppsForSurface, a program for ISVs that want to write key enterprise apps for Windows 8, according to Bellikoff’s blog.

So far the program has signed up AirStrip, Citrix, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Sage. That group indicates an interest in healthcare, small-business accounting and publishing as vertical markets Microsoft wants to woo.

Slots for participants are limited, but Bellikoff doesn’t say what the limit is.

100K apps available at Windows Store

Microsoft says it now has more than 100,000 Windows 8 applications for sale in the Windows Store. That’s a pretty fast ramp up, faster even than it took Apple to attract that number of iOS applications to its store.

But as the AppsForSurface effort shows, the 100,000 applications in the Windows store don’t have the mix Microsoft wants.

More popular than Vista

Windows 8 is now the third most used desktop operating system, behind only Windows 7 and Windows XP. It has surpassed Windows Vista and is within a few percentages of beating out all the OS X versions as measured by Web analytics firm Net Applications.

With 5.1% of Web traffic attributed to Windows 8, it is still considerably behind Windows 7, with 44.37%, and Windows XP, with 37.17%.

The combination of OS X 10, OS X 10.6 and OS X 10.7 accounts for 6.63%.

Windows 8 runs on Xbox One

At the Microsoft Build 2013 developers’ conference last week, Microsoft Vice President Steve Guggenheimer let drop that if they want to write games for Xbox One, developers can just write them for Windows 8.

Why? Because Xbox One includes a Windows 8 core as well as a gaming core. That should make for some creative Xbox One apps.

Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at tgreene@nww.com and follow him on Twitter@Tim_Greene.

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