Adding the cost of Office to Surface

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The Intel based Microsoft Surface will cost more than you think or Microsoft pretends.

The upcoming Surface with Windows 8 Pro costs even more than it first appears because Office is missing and so is the keyboard.

Surface with Windows RT is the ARM chip based version of Microsoft’s tablet device. It has decent battery life and nice hardware but it let down by the Windows 8 touch interface, little local storage and feature deprived software. The official entry price is US$499 but in practice you’ll pay more than that.

Early next year Microsoft will release Surface with Windows 8 Pro – similar hardware to the RT device but with an Intel based chip so you can run standard Windows programs. The Pro device will be thicker, heavier but have much less battery life than the RT version.  There’s a simple comparison of the two products here.

Surface Pro’s entry price will be US$899 for the 64GB version and $999 for the 128GB version. Commentators have been quick to favorably compare those prices with standard laptops but it’s not a fair comparison.

Like the Surface RT, you have to buy a keyboard separately so add a least $120 onto the headline price. Imagine any other hardware maker getting away with selling the essential keyboard as an accessory?

Surface Pro doesn’t include Microsoft Office (unlike the RT device which has feature deprived Office 2013 software). So add at least another $200 to the advertised price of Surface Pro to get Office Home and Business with Outlook.

The realistic price for Surface Pro is $899 plus $120 for the cheapest keyboard and other $200 for Office software – US$1,219. It’s almost certainly worth the extra $100 for the 128GB version so let’s say $1,319 all up.

Not so cheap after all.

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