Microsoft Surface tablet with Windows 8 Pro set for January release date

MICROSOFT SURFACE: Color is key for Microsoft's new MICROSOFT SURFACE: Color is key for Microsoft's new tablet, named Surface. Weighing less than 1.5 pounds, it comes in 32GB and 64GB versions, runs on Windows RT and has a 10.6-inch ClearType HD Display. Features include an integrated kickstand, front and rear-facing 720p HD video cameras, a microSDXC card slot that lets you add up to 64GB of extra storage, full-size USB 2.0 port, two microphones, stereo speakers, headphone jack and Bluetooth 4.0. Battery life is up to eight hours. Add a colorful Touch or Type keyboard cover for versatility. Covers are available in black, white, red, cyan and magenta.

From $499, covers from $100; surface.microsoftstore.com Photo Credit: Handout

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Microsoft Corp. said its Surface tablet computer running the new Windows 8 Pro software will go on sale in January, the first versions of the machine that run on Intel Corp. chips.

Surface tablets with Windows 8 Pro will cost $899 for a version with 64 gigabytes of memory, and $999 for a 128-gigabyte model. They run on Intel's Core i5 processor, giving the machines a graphics boost, Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft said today in a blog post.

Microsoft hasn't disclosed how many units it has sold of the Surface that runs on a chip with ARM Holdings Plc technology, which went on sale last month for $499 to $699. The price for the Intel-based iteration, which doesn't include the tablet cover with a built-in keyboard that is one of Surface's key features, may be too high for many users.

"At that price, by the time you add the keyboard you're at the price of an 11-inch MacBook," said Wes Miller, an analyst at Kirkland, Washington-based Directions on Microsoft, referring to Apple Inc.'s laptop computer. "Everyone always says, 'well, Apple is so expensive,' but here we are in that same neighborhood looking at houses."

Still, Miller said the price for the Surface with Windows 8 Pro is more reasonable if a user is planning to have the machine double as a tablet and a full personal computer. For example, customers could put the machine in a dock and use it alongside a larger screen to replace desktop computers, he said.

"But if you're looking at it as just a tablet, it is pricey," he said.

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