Though the RT version was launched months ago in China, Microsoft just launched its Surface Pro tablets in the country yesterday. In addition to the Surface Pro that is identical to the one available in the U.S., the Redmond company is also offering a “Chinese Edition” that comes with Office Home & Student 2013 software without significantly upping its price tag.
This China-only version is geared for home users who want the computing power of the Surface Pro, but don’t need the enterprise security features that the Windows 8 Pro model offers. According to PC World, the Chinese Edition uses the same x86 Intel processor that powers the Pro but runs the standard version of Windows 8 (not the Professional version). So, while it can’t act as your Windows Media Center hub, at least you can install most software onto the device (unlike the Surface RT with Windows RT, which heavily limits the type of software that can be installed).
Speaking of installing software, with the Chinese Edition, you won’t have to install or purchase Office Home & Student 2013 separately as it comes with the full Office suite, including Word and Excel for home users, preloaded. In the U.S., you only get a one-month trial of Office 365 Home Premium with the purchase of the regular Pro. Not only that, but you have to pay an extra $140 to buy your own copy of the same software that comes preloaded on the Chinese Pro.
And Chinese users buying the special-edition Pro won’t be paying through the roof for the extra software, either. The Chinese Edition Pro with 64GB of storage will retail for 6588 yuan ($1,062), while both the Chinese Edition and regular Pros with 128GB storage will cost 7388 yuan ($1,191). If you buy the same 64GB Pro with Windows 8 Pro in America, it will set you back $900 or 5576 yuan, which is close to what Microsoft is charging for the same device in China. (Western-developed gadgets are typically priced at least 15 percent higher in China than in America, as you can see in this chart comparing Apple products’ prices in the two countries.) Considering that the Chinese Pro’s prices includes the Office software, the Chinese Edition slates are very reasonably priced.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like Microsoft will be bringing this modified version of the slate to other parts of the world any time soon, as this Chinese Edition only supports simplified Chinese. That’s a shame because this version sounds like a nice compromise for consumers who want the convenience of full Office with the power of the Intel processor, but not the price tag of the regular Surface Pro.
[Photo via Slashgear]