My colleague Kevin C. Tofel reports that Microsoft’s Surface Windows 8 Pro will go on sale Feb. 9 in both the U.S. and Canada with a starting price of $899. The tablet will have an attachable keyboard cover and will be powered by Intel’s Core i5 processor, and the entry-level model offers 64 GB of memory.
The price point for the Pro is substantially higher than that of Apple’s iPad, which has become the standard-bearer for the tablet market. And Microsoft’s Surface RT has largely failed to meet expectations, prompting UBS AG analyst Paul Thill to halve his estimates for fourth-quarter sales last week.
But there are two big reasons to believe that the Surface Pro could actually thrive in the market that Apple continues to dominate. As Tofel noted, it will be available at Best Buy and Staples outlets at launch, giving far broader distribution than the Surface RT had when it came to market. Perhaps more important, though, is the fact that it features the full version of Windows 8 Pro, enabling it to function as a true laptop as well as a tablet. So instead of being a complementary device — as the iPad usually is — it can actually replace the laptop for most users. Which means the Surface Pro could be a game-changer in the tablet market.