Microsoft's Surface tablet running a full version of Windows 8 Pro will start selling in January for $899 and up, the company said Thursday. But you'll have to pay more if you want a keyboard cover and the popular Office suite of software.
The current Surface uses the slimmed down Windows RT operating system. As a result, it runs only specially designed applications from Microsoft and others sold through the company's online store. The Pro version of Surface will also run regular Windows applications written for desktops and laptops.
"It's a full PC AND a tablet," Surface general manager Panos Panay wrote in a blog post Thursday.
The Surface represents Microsoft's first foray into manufacturing its own general-purpose computer. In doing so, the company is competing with some of its partners, the manufacturers of PCs and tablets.
The announced price is in line with Microsoft earlier statements that the Pro version would cost about the same as slim, lightweight laptops known as ultrabooks.
The price includes a stylus and software that disregards touches from one's palm while writing on the touch screen. But the detachable touch-sensitive keyboard cover is sold separately. The Touch Cover with keys printed on it costs $120, while the Type Cover with depressable keys is priced at $130.
The Pro version of Surface will come with Intel's Core i5 processor, which Microsoft said gives it a graphics boost compared with the RT version.
The $899 version will come with 64 gigabytes of memory, while $999 gets you 128 GB of memory. It was not immediately clear how much memory would be used up by the operating system and pre-installed apps. For the RT versions, the 32 GB model has only 16 GB of usable memory, while the 64 GB model has 45 GB available.
The RT version of Surface, which starts at $499, comes with the popular Office programs Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote included. The Pro version does not, according to the specifications listed on a Microsoft website. The cheapest version of Office available is priced at $120.
The RT versions went on sale Oct. 26, the same day Windows 8 was out.
The RT versions are available only at Microsoft's stores and websites. The Redmond, Wash., did not say whether the Pro versions will be sold elsewhere as well.
All versions of Surface come with a slot to expand memory and a USB port for peripherals. The Pro version of Surface comes with a newer, faster USB 3.0 port, while the RT version has 2.0.