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Microsoft Surface Pro launching January 2013, pricing starts at $900

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Microsoft's Surface with Windows 8 Pro is launching January 2013 at a starting price of $899, general manager of Microsoft Surface Panos Panay announced on the official Microsoft blog.

Two models will be made available at launch: a 64GB standalone version priced at $899 and a 128GB version for $999. Both versions include a Surface pen with Palm Block technology and the ability to use a Touch Cover or Type Cover, each of which are sold separately from Surface with Windows 8 Pro. Pricing outside of North America has yet to be revealed.

Panay outlined a number of differences between the new Surface and the version that launched last month, supporting Windows RT.

"On the inside, Surface with Windows 8 Pro will come with Intel's next generation Core i5 processor," he writes. "This chip will give Surface with Windows 8 Pro a graphics boost for its 10.6" 16:9 ClearType display that runs at a 1920x1080 full HD resolution.

"Surface with Windows 8 Pro also includes a full-size USB 3.0 port. Its Mini DisplayPort can drive an external display up to 2560X1440 resolution.

"Surface with Windows 8 Pro will support Pen input. This is an amazing feature for all you note-takers or document editors out there, especially since it has expanded capacitive and digitizing technology we're calling Palm Block that will prevent your handwriting from getting interrupted if you accidentally place your palm on the screen as you write."

Surface with Windows 8 Pro runs with current Windows 7 desktop applications and is both a full PC and tablet.