Microsoft’s Surface hasn’t been without its issues. Early buyers of the gadget last year reported that the screen was splitting after just a few days of use. And analysts described Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system as having got off to a “rough start”.
But, undeterred, Microsoft has announced it will be introducing the Surface Pro next month.
And, it will have to persuade customers of its quality rather than of its wallet friendliness.
Microsoft has announced it will be introducing the new Surface Pro at a price point that puts it firmly on a level with ultrabooks rather than tablets.
The new gadget is expected to go on sale in the US on February 9, starting at $899, or around £565, without the Touch Cover keyboard which proved controversial on the Surface.
Microsoft hasn’t definitely said there will be a British launch, but it did say there would be a “phased approach” for the new Surface Pro, adding that additional markets will follow in the “coming weeks and months”.
With similar looks to the Surface RT, which was introduced in October last year, the Surface Pro is more powerful under the hood with a powerful x86 processor.
It means users will get the full version of Windows 8, allowing them to use the full range of Windows apps. The Surface RT, in contrast, contains an ARM-based processor, running a slimmed down version of Windows 8, capable only of running apps designed for tablet computing.
Analysts are, however, questioning whether Microsoft can persuade consumers to part with as much cash for a tablet, even though it is a very powerful one, as they would for a ultrabook.
Peter Bright of Ars Technica said: “The end result is a product that does a big chunk of what a tablet can do and a big chunk of what a PC can do, but it’s not a perfect replacement for either. If Surface Pro is held up against conventional tablets, the result will be catastrophic, but the comparisons with ultrabooks aren’t clear-cut either.”
And some critics are starting to question whether a 10.6-inch screen is enough to get any “real work” done on.
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes from Hardware 2.0 said: “Having had some hands-on time with the Touch Cover, I’m going to rule that out as a keyboard if your job involves serious text input. If you’re going to be serious about typing with the Surface Pro, you’re going to need the Type Keyboard.
“All of a sudden, that $899 Surface Pro is costing you $1,029. That’s a serious chunk of change that would buy you any number of Windows-powered notebooks or, for that matter, a MacBook Air, and still leave you change for a few coffees at Starbucks.”
But Microsoft believes potential users won’t be put off by the price. “Surface with Windows 8 Pro is all new,” said a spokesman, “and yet you can do everything you’ve ever done on your PC. Touch-enhanced applications run as smoothly as your favourite desktop software, so you can work the way you want.”