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Windows 8 Update: Microsoft Surface Pro tablets start at $899, no keyboard

Also: Windows 8 tablet sales 'almost nonexistent,' Microsoft lures iOS developers

By , Network World
November 29, 2012 03:18 PM ET

Network World - The full-blown Windows 8 version of Microsoft's new tablet -- Surface Pro -- goes on sale in January with a starting price of $899 ... and that doesn't include the distinctive snap-on cover/keyboard that will be pretty much essential for anyone wanting to use the machine for traditional Windows applications.

The $899 buys a 64GB version of the device, while $999 pays for a 128GB model, according to a blog at Microsoft's TechNet.

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FIRST LOOK: Surface RT

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The keyboard, if it follows the price of the keyboard for the Windows RT version of Surface, costs an extra $119 for the Touch cover and $129 for the Type cover, which has mechanical keys.

Because it can run any application that runs on a Windows 7 machine, this is a possible corporate laptop. This is the major difference between the Surface Pro and Surface RT.

Surface RT runs only Windows 8-optimized Windows Store applications. It comes with a pared-down version of Microsoft Office; Surface Pro does not.

While it looks similar to the Surface RT with distinctive keyboard/covers and integrated kickstand to prop up the screen, there are major differences.

Surface RT runs on ARM processors and Surface Pro uses an Intel Core i5 processor. Screen resolution on Surface RT is 1366 x 768 vs. 1920 x 1080 on Surface Pro.

Surface Pro has a USB 3 port vs. a USB 2.0 port on the Surface RT. Surface Pro supports a stylus; Surface RT does not.

The dimensions of the Surface Pro in inches are 10.81 x 6.81 x 0.53 compared to Surface RT's 10.81 x 6.77 x 0.37. Surface Pro also weighs more at 2 pounds vs. less than 1.5 pounds for Surface RT.

Tough sell

Windows 8 has grabbed significantly less of the overall Windows computing market in the U.S. during its first four weeks than Windows 7 did in its initial phase, according to market research firm The NPD Group, and sales of tablets is "almost nonexistent."

So far Windows 8 has nailed down 58% of the Windows device sales compared to the 83% achieved by Windows 7 in its first four weeks, NPD says in a press release.

Windows 8 tablet sales are even more dismal, accounting for less than 1% of the Windows 8 sales, according to NPD. That means they account for a miniscule share of the larger, overall Windows device market. That doesn't include sales of Microsoft's Surface tablets, which are sold only in Microsoft stores and for which Microsoft has given no sales figures.

It's not conclusive, but this picture of Windows 8's performance contrasts with the impression Microsoft is making, boasting this week that 40 million license for the operating system were sold since Oct. 26.

While generally discounting comparisons with other OS launches, the CMO/CFO of Microsoft's Windows and Windows Live division, Tami Reller, says the success to date of Windows 8 is comparable to that its predecessor. "The 40 million is roughly in line with Windows 7," Reller says in an interview at the Credit Suisse tech conference this week.

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