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2/11/2013
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Surface Pro Out, But You Can't Get It

The 128GB Surface Pro from Microsoft sold out mere hours after becoming available for purchase. The much-maligned 64GB version is available. Microsoft says that this model has 30GB, not 23GB of built-in storage free, and another analysis shows that the 128GB Surface Pro's free storage compares to that of Apple's MacBook Air.

The Microsoft Surface Pro launch event was scheduled for Friday night at a Best Buy in Manhattan. Customers were to be able to buy them starting at midnight. Mother Nature had other ideas though, and the blizzard we called Nemo wiped out both events.

But the Surface Pro became available nonetheless. The company announced that it was "Available Now" on a Saturday entry on the new Surface Blog by Panos Panay, Microsoft's general manager for Surface. You can buy it, for instance, at Microsoft retail stores and directly from the company online. Or so it appears. We haven't actually tried to buy one, but have read numerous reports of them being hard to find and of the 128GB model being sold out. Even Microsoft is already out of them online:

Microsoft is out of Surface Pro 128GB units for online sale. (Click for larger image)

Surface Pro unavailable at Best Buy
Meanwhile, at Best Buy... (Click for larger image)
64GB Surface Pro units are much easier to find, although this particular configuration received criticism even before it shipped with reports, based on analysis of pre-release units, that it had only 23GB of available disk space. More on this criticism and Microsoft's response below.

The situation at Best Buy and other retailers is no better. The big box retailer doesn't sell Surface Pro online, but a search on its website for stores nearby (in a New Jersey suburb of New York City) shows that none are to be had in stores either. Click on the nearby image for more on the search.

Anticipation of the Surface Pro in the trade press has been lukewarm at best, but demand for it may have been greater than expected. This story on Betanews tells of an online poll it ran in which 45% of 2,000 respondents intended to buy one "as soon as available." The Betanews story, along with many a tweet we've seen, indicate that people are actively shopping for Surface Pro and not finding it.

Surface Pro is also officially for sale at Staples, but the 128GB version is also effectively unavailable. The page for that product reads "Currently Out of Stock."

Surface Pro, in contrast to the Surface with Windows RT, runs the mainstream Intel architecture version of Windows. The Surface RT uses an ARM architecture processor and cannot run normal programs written for Windows. It is designed to run only apps from the Microsoft Store.

Surface Pro has a 10.6-inch ClearType HD Display with 1920 by 1080 resolution. The CPU is a 1.7GHz Intel Core i5 processor with HD 4000 graphics. The device has 4GB RAM and either 64GB or 128GB storage. The front- and rear-facing cameras are 720p. It comes with a full complement of sensors: an accelerometer, an ambient-light sensor, a compass and gyroscope. It has 802.11an Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4, and USB 3. The dimensions and weight are: 10.81 x 6.81 x 0.53 inches and just under two pounds. Price: $899 (64GB); $999 (128GB).

All mobile devices lose some of their storage to the operating system and other bundled software and data, but the Surface Pro loses more than usual. Early reports that the 64GB Surface Pro would come with only 23GB free (and 83GB free on the 128GB version) created bad press before even reviewers had their hands on the devices. Microsoft's Panay replied to some of these complaints, oddly, on Reddit, rather than on the Microsoft blog.

Panay stated that the early reports were inaccurate in that they were based on observations of pre-release machines with extra data on them. Shipping Surface Pros would have 6-7GB more than was reported (i.e. 29-30GB for the 64GB model and 89-90GB for the 128GB model). The Surface and Surface Pro also come with a microSDXC socket for storage expansion, although performance of such storage would lag behindthat of built-in storage. The default Surface Pro configuration also comes with nearly 8GB of storage dedicated to a Recovery Partition which can be offloaded to a MicroSD card, freeing up that space as well.

For more detail on available storage on Surface Pro, especially compared to the MacBook Air, see this analysis by Ed Bott of ZDNet.

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