It's been a busy day for Microsoft news, but it ends (at least for us in the UK, anyway) with the emergence of a fairly significant bit of info: the price and release date of the Surface for Windows Pro tablet.
There will be two versions of the full-fat Surface to choose from – a 64GB model going for $899 and a 128GB option for $999, and Microsoft has revealed they will be available from January.
The news comes via a post on the the Official Microsoft Blog from Surface general manager Panos Panay, who revealed that the Windows 8 Pro-infused Surface would be sold with a Surface pen in the box for some stylus stylings, but that – as with the Surface for Windows RT – you'll have to pay extra for a Touch Cover or Type Cover.
Panay didn't specify international prices, but expect something around the £800 entry point once the details become clear. We're seriously hoping, while we're at it, that the January launch timeframe counts for us too, and not just the US market.
The Surface for Windows 8 Pro is set to be a pivotal product for Microsoft and Windows 8. The lower end mobile tablet market (at which the lesser Surface for Windows RT is pitched) may represent a huge growth area in the world of computing, while the traditional PC market is still going to be responsible for the vast majority of Windows 8 licences sold over the next few years. The Surface for Windows 8 Pro, however, falls into neither camp.
Instead it's the embodiment of everything Microsoft seems fervently to believe the tablet market should represent: true desktop-level performance, productivity and functionality, but in a fully mobile package.
It comes with an Intel Core i5 processor, a full HD 10.6in display, and runs the same version of the Windows operating software Microsoft is pushing at traditional PC “power-users” and businesses.
The big question, of course, is whether the price tag will be cheap enough to appeal to either camp. Established PC types might balk at paying that sort of price for what they see as a “stripped down” device (regardless of what Microsoft claims).
Established tablet users, on the other hand, will argue that the rapid uptake and deployment of tablets like the iPad in the business environment over the past couple of years proves that Microsoft is trying to push an outdated (and overpriced) concept of the mobile productivity device on a market that's already moved on.
Will those voices carry the strongest? Will the Surface sink below the waves? We'll find out in January.