Microsoft prices Surface with Windows Pro tablets

 Surface with Windows Pro The "pro" version of the Surface tablet comes with a stylus

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Microsoft has revealed it will charge $899 (£560) for the basic version of its Surface with Windows Pro tablet.

The device will be released in January and features an Intel chip allowing it to run the full version of the Windows 8 operating system.

The price is $400 more than the existing Surface with Windows RT tablet, which is less powerful and does not run programs such as Photoshop.

The devices are intended to challenge the iPad and Android-based tablets.

Faster, heavier

Microsoft's chief executive, Steve Ballmer, told shareholders this week that the fact his firm was releasing its tablets more than two years later than Apple might have contributed to its share price being outpaced by its rival.

"Maybe we should have done that earlier," he said.

Surface tablets The Surface is designed to be combined with a keyboard which is sold separately

He had earlier suggested that he was certain sales of the original Surface would grow.

"We've had a modest start because Surface is only available on our online retail sites and a few Microsoft stores in the United States," he told French newspaper Le Parisien.

Both versions of the Surface can be operated as a 10.6in (26.9cm) touchscreen tablet, or snapped into one of the firm's keyboards to mimic the functionality of a notebook computer.

The Windows RT version - which is powered by an ARM-based chip from Nvidia - is expected to offer longer battery life, but can only run the limited number of third-party programs available from Microsoft's own online store.

The Windows Pro version avoids this restriction but is heavier in part because it features a higher capacity battery to run its more power-hungry processor.

It will be offered with 64GB of storage for $899 or 128GB of storage for $999. Neither price includes one of Microsoft's keyboards, which add at least another $99.

One industry watcher noted that the new computer would face more competition due to the fact more Window 8-powered computers have been announced than Windows RT ones by other manufacturers.

"The Intel-based version of Windows 8 is far more attractive to the market than the Windows RT version as consumers today can't ignore the fact that they may just be a version of a program that they want to run built on the old architecture which the ARM-based version doesn't support," Ken Dulaney, a mobile technology analyst at consultants Gartner, told the BBC.

"But there will be a lot of other Windows 8 hybrids out there that also allow their screens to be detached from their keyboards.

"So I'd suggest that buyers sit back and wait for other products which may be even more compelling or cheaper and not become too fixated on what is a first-generation Microsoft device."

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