Jan. 22, 2013 -- The second wave of Microsoft's tablet assault comes next month. The company announced today that the second version of its Surface tablet -- the Surface Windows 8 Pro -- will launch on Feb. 9 for $899.99.
In October, Microsoft released Windows 8 and, along with it, its own $499 Surface RT tablet. The tablet ran Windows RT, a stripped-down version of Microsoft's new operating system, and was powered by an ARM processor, which didn't allow it to run many well-known Windows programs.
The Surface Pro tablet, however, has an Intel Core i5 processor and Windows Pro, which is capable of running new versions of Windows programs as well as traditional programs. Because of its greater power, including 64GB or 128GB solid state drive options, the Pro version will start at $899.
Included with the tablet is a stylus or Surface pen, but to get a keyboard you'll have to shell out some more money. The Touch Cover, which we reviewed with the Surface RT, has touch sensors instead of physical keys one can press, and costs $120. The Type Cover, which has physical keys, costs $130.
Microsoft promoted the Surface launch with massive advertising and marketing campaigns in the U.S. (you might have seen the big billboards or the commercials). However, analysts say they have not seen strong sales. According to The New York Times, which cites a UBS analyst, Microsoft sold just one million tablets in the fourth quarter. (Apple, in comparison, sold three times that in the first weekend that its iPad Mini was on the market.)
Microsoft is increasing the production of the Surface RT tablet and expanding its worldwide distribution; the Surface RT was only available at Microsoft stores when it launched.
Analysts say it's still early to predict the success of Microsoft's Surface business. "Given the limited availability of Surface over the holidays and that it runs Windows RT, it's hard to say how well it really did in the market or make judgments about how well Surface Pro might do," Michael Gartenberg, Gartner Research Director, told ABC News.
"Given that Surface Pro runs on an Intel processor and Windows 8 with legacy application support will make a major difference in explaining it to consumers and it will be the best representation of Microsoft's interoperation of how the personal computer and tablet have evolved."
The Surface Pro tablet will be available at Microsoft's online store, as well as Staples and Best Buy, on Feb. 9.