Microsoft Surface Pro to get half the battery life of Surface RT

The Intel-based PC tablets coming in January will get just four to five hours of battery due to its Ivy Bridge processor. Is that a deal breaker for consumers?

Mary Jo Foley
Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network.
Mary Jo Foley
2 min read
Microsoft Surface with Windows 8 Pro

How much does battery life matter to tablet users? Microsoft may soon find out, first hand.

Microsoft went public today with pricing for its Surface Pro PC/tablet devices -- the Intel-based ones running Windows 8 Pro that will allow users to run their existing third-party apps on the desktop. The 64GB version will be $899; the 128GB version, $999. (Both prices include a pen, but no touch or type keyboard/cover. So add another $120 to $130 for that.)

Pricing is not all the team shared about the Microsoft-branded Surface Pros, due out in January 2013.

Surface Pros are going to get about half the battery life of the Surface RTs. Surface RTs get between eight and ten hours of battery life, based on various estimates I've seen (and my own personal experience on mine).

The Surface team Twitter account confirmed the battery-life plans in a tweet today to @Shahroom:

For me, that'd be a deal breaker. With a tablet, I count on not having to lug a power cord around. Other readers of mine say they plan to use the Surface Pro like a PC, so they are less worried about only getting four to five hours of battery.

Why the low battery life? Surface Pro, as Microsoft officials announced a few months ago, uses the Intel "Ivy Bridge" (generation 3) Core i5 processor. It doesn't use the lower-power-consumption/higher-battery-life Atom/Clover Trail and it doesn't use the fourth-generation Core Haswell.

Some had hoped/wondered if Microsoft's decision to deliver Surface Pro after Christmas was related to a last-minute substitution of a more powerful Intel processor. But that isn't the case, a Microsoft spokesperson reconfirmed when I asked today. Surface Pro uses the Intel Core i5.

If you want to see the rest of the Surface Pro specs and how they compare to the Surface RT ones, you can download the PDF of Microsoft's comparative spec sheet from a few months back. It's still accurate.

There are trade-offs in every device. Do you think Microsoft made the right choice between processor power and battery life on this one?

This story was first published as "Microsoft Surface Pro to have half the Surface RT's battery life" on ZDNet's All About Microsoft blog.

Watch this: Unboxing the Microsoft Surface tablet