After much speculation and a fair bit of waiting, we now know the release date for the Intel version of Microsoft's Surface tablet. Microsoft announced on its official blog that the Surface for Windows 8 Pro will be available in the U.S. and Canada on February 9. You'll be able to get it directly from Microsoft (either online or at the company's retail locations), at Staples and Best Buy stores in the U.S., and at "a number of locations" north of the border.
As we found out in November, pricing for the Surface for Windows 8 Pro will start at $899 without a keyboard. The base model will have a 10.6" 1080p display, a Core i5 processor, 64GB of solid-state storage, and a stylus. A $999 variant with 128GB of storage capacity will also be on offer. Both should weigh less than two pounds with a thickness under 0.55"—a little more portly than the iPad, but still fairly svelte considering the Core i5 inside. Microsoft's statements suggest battery life will only be around four hours, though.
In related news, Microsoft plans to offer the $499, ARM-powered Surface for Windows RT in more markets. Folks in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland will be able to nab the device in the "coming weeks," Microsoft says.
Also, the company has announced new accessories: a set of limited-edition Touch Covers with laser-etched patterns and a Surface Edition of its Wedge Touch Mouse built out of the same "VaporMg" material as the Surface itself. The new Touch Covers will cost $129.99 ($10 more than the plain ones) when they debut next month, while the mouse is due out on February 9 with a $69.95 asking price.