Microsoft's Surface Pro set for February 9 release

microsoft surface tablet
The Surface Pro will be released on February 9, starting at $899.

Three months after the release of the Surface RT, Microsoft is ready to deliver the pricier and more powerful Surface Pro to consumers on February 9.

Unlike the Surface RT, which can only run Windows 8-optimized Metro apps, the Surface Pro runs Microsoft's full Windows 8 Pro operating system. That means it can handle all legacy Windows apps.

The scant app selection for the Surface RT is a significant weakness for the device. The Surface Pro is remedy to that problem, but it comes with its own drawbacks.

The tablet's Intel Core i5 gives it processing power that's comparable to a traditional desktop or laptop PC -- but it's 0.53 inches thick and weighs two pounds. That makes it both thicker and heavier than the Surface RT (0.37 inches thick, 1.5 pounds). It's also got a shorter battery life -- more comparable to an 5-ish hour ultrabook than a 10-hour tablet -- thanks to its beefed up specs, which include 4 gigabytes of RAM and a 1920x1080 full HD display.

The Surface Pro can do something else the RT can't: It supports a pressure-sensitive stylus for writing, illustrating and designing by hand. That stylus will come included with every Surface Pro.

The Surface Pro comes in 64 GB and 128 GB configurations, which go for $899 and $999, respectively. An "optional" but essential add-on keyboard costs another $100 when bundled with the Surface Pro.

Microsoft (MSFT) also said Tuesday that it will start offering the 64 GB Surface RT without a Touch Cover, lowering its $699 price to $599. (Previously, that version was only sold with the cover included. The 32 GB version sells for $499 without a Touch Cover or $599 with one.)

The Surface Pro will be available in all the same retail channels as the Surface RT, including Best Buy (BBY) and Staples (SPLS).

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