Microsoft on Thursday set pricing for its Surface Pro 10.6-inch tablet with a starting price of $899 for a 64GB version and $999 for a 128GB version.
The tablet, formally called Surface with Windows 8 Pro, will ship sometime in January. No pre-orders were available in the blog announcing the pricing, which was posted by Panos Panay, general manager of Microsoft Surface.
[ Which tablet is the best? Find out in InfoWorld's tablet calculator. Looking for a media tablet? See which won our deathmatch comparison. | Understand how to both manage and benefit from the consumerization of IT with InfoWorld's "Consumerization Digital Spotlight" PDF special report. | Subscribe to InfoWorld's Consumerization of IT newsletter today. ]
Neither version will come with the Touch Cover or Type Cover, which would add at least $120 to the total cost.
Two analysts said Microsoft must have set the pricing that high to allow its partners making Windows 8 tablets to charge less. Microsoft is concerned about maintaining a good relationship with its partners, who must buy Windows 8 licenses from Microsoft and then build the tablets. Microsoft has never made a tablet before releasing the Surface for Windows RT tablet a month ago.
Compared to consumer-focused tablets, the Surface Pro prices are at least $400 higher. The iPad starts at $499, while some are less than $200.
"The Surface Pro pricing leaves room for device makers to come down in price without compromising margins too much," said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Gartner. "This is an enterprise play, not a consumer play, at least for now."
Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates, said enterprise customers are "less prices sensitive" and also predicted that competitive products from other vendors will undercut the Surface Pro pricing "in the not-too-distant future."
Still, Gold added: "Is the price high? Yes."
Surface Pro runs an Intel Core i5 processor, while Surface for Windows RT and other RT tablets run ARM-based chips. Panay called attention to the Surface Pro's pen input, which he called "an amazing feature for all you note-taker or document editors out there." Surface Pro also has a full size USB 3.0 port.