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Microsoft Slashes Surface Pro 2 Prices

Microsoft drops Surface Pro 2 prices by $100 to $200, days ahead of Surface Pro 3 availability.

Surface Pro 3 Vs. World: Mobile Smackdown
Surface Pro 3 Vs. World: Mobile Smackdown
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

With Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 hitting stores this Friday, it seemed like only a matter of time until Microsoft began discounting its older Surface Pro 2. Heading into this week, some Pro 2 configurations actually cost as much as comparably built Pro 3 models.

Sure enough, the company slashed prices this week across the Pro 2 range by between $100 and $200 in its online store. If you've been on the fence about a Surface Pro 2, the device is more affordable than ever.

Whether Microsoft's second-gen Pro is affordable enough is still debatable, however. The base model offers a 64-GB SSD, 4 GB of RAM, and a fourth-generation Intel i5 processor for $799. That's $100 less than before, but Type Cover keyboards are still sold separately, for another $130. Though $930 isn't anyone's idea of a budget-friendly laptop, the lower cost might be tempting for on-the-go professionals who want a capable device with a small footprint.

[Want a closer look at the Surface Pro 3? Read Microsoft Surface Pro 3: Visual Tour.]

Microsoft also chopped $100 from the price of the 128-GB model with 4 GB of RAM, bringing it down to $899. The 256-GB and 512-GB models, both of which come with 8 GB of RAM, received $200 reductions, bringing them down to $1,099 and $1,599, respectively. That said, the 256-GB model is currently listed as out of stock. All Surface Pro 2 models run on i5 processors.

How does that compare to Microsoft's newest tablet? The entry-level Pro 3 includes a 64-GB SSD and 4 GB of RAM for $799 -- just like the cheapest Surface Pro 2. But it's not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison.

Microsoft's Surface Pro 2
Microsoft's Surface Pro 2

The base Pro 3 uses only an i3 processor, which arguably gives the older tablet an advantage. But the Pro 3 offers a 12-inch, 2,160x1,440-pixel screen, compared to the Pro 2's 10.6-inch, 1,920x1,080-pixel display. Despite the bigger display, the Pro 3 is also lighter and thinner than its predecessor. The Pro 3's infinitely adjustable kickstand is an improvement over the Pro 2's two-position model, and the Pro 3's digital pen blows the earlier model's stylus out of the water. The Pro 3 also offers a 3:2 aspect ratio, instead of the 16:9 displays in earlier Surfaces.

Microsoft's new base pricing, in other words, balances the Surface Pro 3's more functional design against the Pro 2's faster processor and smaller (but heavier) footprint. As for the upmarket models, the Pro 3's i7 configurations, which cost as much as $1,949, are in a different category, since no Pro 2 model comes with this class of chips. Otherwise, prices for i5-based Pro 3 models outpace those of middle-market and high-end i5-based Pro 2 options, though the margin isn't always large. The Pro 3 with a 128-GB SSD, 4 GB of RAM, and an i5 processor is $999, or $100 more than a Pro 2 with the same specs. The Pro 3 with an i5 chip, 8 GB of RAM, and 256-GB drive is $1,299, or $200 more than a Pro 2 with similar internals.

Another important consideration: Not all Surface Pro 3 models will ship at the same time. Only the 256-GB model with an i5 processor will be available this week. The 128-GB version, also with an i5 chip, will hit the market June 30. If you want an i3-based or i7-based machine, you'll have to wait until late summer.

If you can't delay a purchase that long, the new Pro 2 prices might be a lucky break. But it's always possible Microsoft will further reduce second-gen tablet prices once more Pro 3 models are available. In the meantime, the original Surface Pro is also an option. Stock levels appear largely depleted, but certain configurations are still available from big box vendors. Best Buy's website currently lists a Pro with a 256-GB drive and 4 GB of RAM for $649.

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Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio

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Michael Endler
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
6/18/2014 | 11:07:52 AM
Re: Wait for Surface Pro 3
Agreed, Charlie. The price difference between the Pro 2 and Pro 3 isn't that big, and the Pro 3 is better in almost every way. I guess the Pro 2's smaller laptop footprint might appeal to some people-- but the Pro 3 is lighter; easier to hold as a tablet; thinner; more flexible as a laptop, with better battery life, a better kickstand, and a better screen; etc.

That said, Microsoft will probably become more aggressive in its attempt to get rid of existing Surface Pro 2 inventory. I don't know if we'll see additional permanent price drops, at least not right away-- but I bet we'll see limited promotions with not only lower prices, but also included Type Covers. That's just a hunch, based on Microsoft's handling of some of the earlier models. But if the Pro 2 were to drop below $700, as the original Pro did, that might be more tempting.
Michael Endler
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
6/18/2014 | 11:00:53 AM
Surface Pro 3 availability-- 256 GB and some 128 GB Surface Pro 3s available on June 20
Microsoft clarified Surface Pro 3 availability, and only new pre-orders of the 128 GB i5 model will ship on the 30th; if you pre-ordered this SKU early and received an email notification of a June 20 ship date, you won't have to wait. The 256-GB i5 model is still slated for Friday, and the i3 and i7 models are still slated for later this summer. For those who did not pre-order but want a Surface Pro 3, Microsoft will have limited units available in brick and mortar stores on the 20th.

User Rank: Strategist
6/18/2014 | 6:31:23 AM
Re: Slashes? Seriously?
I'd say "slashing" would be about 50% off or more. But while 10-15% off isn't what most people would consider a huge slash, it's still a discount nonetheless. Something many users would likely appreciate, especially if they already had their eye on the device.
User Rank: Ninja
6/17/2014 | 9:05:18 PM
Re: Slashes? Seriously?
It's MSFT, so any price reduction is cheered.
User Rank: Strategist
6/17/2014 | 8:52:28 PM
Slashes? Seriously?
Since when is a 10-15% sale considered "slashing"?  

Even if this happened without a new model on the way, it wouldn't qualify as a "slashing".  

That's some serious sensationalism right there.
Charlie Babcock
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
6/17/2014 | 3:36:46 PM
Wait for Surface Pro 3
Even with the price reduction on the Surface Pro 2, the Pro 3 looks to me like the better deal. And with the 3, you'll get longer battery life, which is also important.
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