Originally expected 90 days after the launch of the Surface RT tablets, which use ARM processors and run Windows RT, the Surface Pro tablets are a tad bit late (Windows 8 and the Surface RT tablets shipped on Oct. 26, 2012).
The Surface Pro comes with an Intel Core i5 processor and either 64GB ($899) or 128GB ($999) of onboard solid-state storage. Sadly, Surface Pro tablets will not come bundled a Touch Cover or Type Cover, unlike some Surface RT bundles. Those are sold separately at $120 or $130, respectively.
Of those two, the Type Cover will be most reminiscent of a standard computer keyboard, and is incredibly useful for those trying to turn the Surface into a replacement for a laptop that is still basically the same form factor as any tablet. For those looking for such a setup, that will mean a starting price of $1,029.
Naturally, a standard mouse and keyboard could be used instead.
The Surface Pro does ship with a pressure-sensitive Surface Pen stylus with palm-rejection technology that magnetically clips to the charging port. Palm-rejection means what it sounds like -- your palm is ignored if you try writing with the pen.
The Microsoft Surface Pro will be available February 9 at Microsoft retail stores, microsoftstore.com, at Staples and Best Buy in the U.S., and at "a number of locations" in Canada.
The big question remains: who will buy these at this price. From our perspective, if the 64GB model were $1,029, including the Type Cover, and included cellular connectivity, it might be a valid competitor to an iPad.
Consider that: a 64GB iPad + cellular costs $829. At $1,029, you'd have a full Windows 8 Pro "laptop" with keyboard and all those advantages. At this cost, sans cellular, it's hard to see who will want a tablet / laptop with such a small, 10-inch screen.
Time will tell.