Microsoft’s Surface Pro still on track for release... some time

Microsoft logoWay back in June last year, Microsoft announced two models of tablet computer under the Surface brand. The first, the ARM-powered Surface RT, was scheduled to launch at the same time as Windows 8, and it did precisely that, going on sale on October 26. The second, the Intel Ivy Bridge-powered, x86-compatible Surface Pro, was due about 90 days later.

We're fast closing on 90 days since the launch of Surface RT and Microsoft still hasn't publicly nailed down that release date. In a reversal of the Surface RT announcements—where the release date was known three months before the device went on sale but the pricing was only revealed ten days in advance—we've known that Surface Pro will start at $899 since November. But when will it go on sale? Anybody's guess. And even the pricing information is incomplete. Although the US pricing has been announced, the price in other markets has not been.

Microsoft Surface Pro

Coming out of CES were a small number of limited hands-ons. These confirmed much of what we already knew about Surface Pro: it does have fans, with a thin vent all around the edge of the system. It's a bit heavier than the RT version. And the 1920×1080 screen looks gorgeous. But the units were described only as "preproduction."

The latest news from Microsoft sheds little light. Panos Panay, the man in charge of the Surface project at Microsoft, tweeted yesterday that he was visiting the Surface Pro factory to look at units coming off the production line. Panay said that they would arrive "in coming weeks."

Surface Pro could still scrape in by the end of the month, hitting Microsoft's schedule, but time is getting short. In this writer's opinion, "about three months" gives Microsoft a window of about plus or minus two weeks. Surface Pro could ship in February and still fit in with Redmond's original timeline. But if it does miss the end of January, it risks running into Chinese New Year, which this year falls on February 10. Chinese New Year is a big deal, with factory closures and other disruptions typical as workers put down tools to celebrate with their families. It's probably not the best time to release a new product; Microsoft hardly wants to be in the position of having lots of demand but no capacity to build anything for a week or two.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Microsoft, Surface, tablets

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