The laptop/tablet hybrid Surface Pro, which Microsoft and a host of other PC manufacturers see as the future of personal computing, officially launched in February and is currently only available in the US, Canada and China.
Until this week's official announcement, when pressed for future launches and availability dates Microsoft's stock response has been "in the coming months," but the company has finally confirmed that the Surface Pro will be arriving in a number of major territories before the end of May.
The device, which squeezes a full notebook PC, capable of running the desktop version of Windows 8, into a tablet form factor, will be coming to Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom in May and by the end of June will also have launched in Korea, Malaysia, Russia, Singapore, and Thailand.
The Surface Pro features a 10.6-inch full HD touch screen, supports stylus input and can be specified with 64GB or 128GB of internal storage. It runs the full version of Windows 8, Microsoft's latest operating system, which means that as well as being able to run full desktop versions of popular programs it also supports existing Windows 7 apps.
"To those of you who have pressed for information -- please understand that before making these announcements we make sure that we have the volume of devices in place and alignment with our retail partners to do each launch well," said Brian Hall, General Manager for Microsoft Surface, in a blog post on Wednesday. The statement seems to suggest that Microsoft has been experiencing supply chain problems and has been unable to give the device the big push it really needs if it is to enter the mainstream and, in doing so, reinvigorate the ailing PC market.
In the same post, Hall revealed that the Surface RT, which looks identical to the Surface Pro but is unable to run full Windows applications, is also set to roll out in Malaysia on April 25 and by the end of June will also be available in Mexico, Korea and Thailand, bringing the number of countries in which it is on sale up to 29.
Unlike the Surface Pro, which has been highly praised for its combination of mobility and power productivity (the only criticisms surrounding the device are focused on battery life and price), the Surface RT has been roundly criticized for its inability to compete with Android and Apple tablets and for its lack of available apps -- a serious issue when one considers it is unable to run any other type of software or application. At the last count, there were 50,000 RT-compatible apps in the Windows app store, compared with 700,000 mobile apps suitable for the iPhone and iPad in Apple's App Store.
The Surface Pro retails for $899 in the US for the 64GB version without a touch cover keyboard (it's a $129.99 cost option) and although it is expected to be sold at a similar price point in Europe and beyond, Microsoft will not be revealing pricing details until closer to its launch date.