Microsoft says its Surface tablet computer running the new Windows 8 Pro software will go on sale in January, the first versions of the machine that run on Intel chips.
Surface tablets with Windows 8 Pro will cost $US899 for a version with 64 gigabytes of memory, and $US999 for a 128-gigabyte model. They run on Intel's Core i5 processor, giving the machines a graphics boost, the Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft said in a blog post.
The Wi-Fi only tablets will only be available in the US at launch, with other markets to follow, said a spokesperson for Microsoft Australia. Australian prices are not currently available.
Microsoft hasn't disclosed how many units it has sold of the Surface that runs on a chip with ARM technology, which went on sale last month from $559. The price for the Intel-based iteration, which doesn't include the tablet cover with a built-in keyboard, may be too high for many users. The keyboard is one of Surface's key features, but sold as a separate accessory to both models.
"At that price, by the time you add the keyboard you're at the price of an 11-inch MacBook," said Wes Miller, an analyst at Kirkland, Washington-based Directions on Microsoft, referring to Apple's laptop computer. "Everyone always says, 'well, Apple is so expensive,' but here we are in that same neighbourhood looking at houses."
Still, Miller said the price for the Surface with Windows 8 Pro would be more reasonable if a user was planning to have the machine double as a tablet and a full personal computer. For example, customers could put the machine in a dock and use it alongside a larger screen to replace desktop computers, he said.
"But if you're looking at it as just a tablet, it is pricey," he said.