Microsoft Actually Announced TWO Products Last Night

steve ballmer microsoft surface announcement

Photo: Microsoft

There seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding Microsoft’s Surface tablet announcement Monday night.Here’s the deal: Microsoft actually announced two tablets: a “RT” model and a “Pro” model. While similar, both models will be able to do very different things.

So what does that mean for you? Let’s break it down.

Surface RT is Microsoft’s new iPad competitor.

This tablet runs a stripped-down version of Windows 8 called Windows RT. Windows RT is designed to only run on tablets with ARM processors. (ARM processors are those powerful, energy-efficient chips other tablets like the iPad use.) This version of Microsoft’s new operating system will only let you access the tile-based “Metro” view of Windows. It’ll also only run Windows 8 apps, not your older Windows apps.

The Surface RT tablet is designed to compete directly with the iPad. While there’s no price yet, we’re guessing it’ll cost about the same. The iPad starts at $499 for the 16 GB model. Surface RT will only have 32 GB and 64 GB models, so we’re guessing it’ll cost around $599. 

Click here to see how Surface’s specs compare to the iPad >

How is Surface Pro different?

Think of the Surface Pro as a fully-featured laptop crammed into a tablet’s body. It’ll run on an Intel processor, just like today’s Ultrabooks. It’ll also run the full version of Windows 8, which includes a “desktop” mode for running classic Windows apps. (Desktop mode looks nearly identical to the Windows 7 interface you’re used to.)

Surface Pro will be thicker and heavier than Surface RT. That’s because it needs extra space to fit in all those powerful PC parts. (It even has a cooling system with vents like laptops do.) The Pro will also come with a super-thin keyboard accessory that uses magnets to snap onto the tablet. When you prop the tablet up with the built-in kickstand, it’s pretty close to using a traditional laptop.

Don’t expect Surface Pro to be cheap. While Microsoft didn’t announce a price yet, we’re expecting it to cost at least $999 for the base model, which is about where most Ultrabooks start at today.

More on Surface: Click here for photos of Microsoft’s new tablet

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