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What Happened To Microsoft's Surface Pro Tablets?

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - The software giant's flashy TV commercials are explicitly vague.

Sure, Microsoft's (MSFT - Get Report) new line of tablets and the optional colorful keyboard/covers are perfect fodder for TV commercials. But those commercials are for all of the Surface tablets - including the models we haven't seen yet.

Currently for sale are Windows RT tablets. They run on a lightweight version of the OS made to work on ARM (ARMH) -based processors. It's called, as you might have guessed, Windows RT. Those tablets, released in the fourth quarter, have received a lukewarm reception from reviewers and also a large dose of apathy from the general buying public.

But what we've all been waiting for is the Pro version of the Surface tablet - the more expensive device which runs Windows 8 Pro on Intel (INTC - Get Report) processors. So far, Microsoft has been pretty quiet about when we'll actually see these devices.

It's not as if the software isn't ready. You can buy Windows 8 software right now. And there's currently a huge selection of Windows 8 Pro devices available in the marketplace. Interesting models from Dell (DELL), Lenovo, Hewlett Packard (HPQ - Get Report), Asus, Sony (SNE - Get Report) and a host of others. Some with touchscreens. Some without. But all running the full version of Windows 8.

So, what's Microsoft waiting for? I'm guessing that it wanted Windows RT to have the lion's share of publicity during the holiday buying rush so it delayed, until after the New Year, the release of the full Win 8 Pro models.

And since Microsoft is no longer a big player at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (no keynote speech and no longer funding a huge display on the show floor) it seems that it'll be making an official announcement soon. Bloggers are speculating a pre-sale and release date sometime this month.

Microsoft Surface Pro devices start at $900 for a 4 GB RAM/64 GB storage version with an Intel i5 processor and $1,000 for the model with double the storage. They're priced more like ultrabooks than tablets. Snap-on keyboard/covers begin at $100 but I expect there'll be "package deals" as well.

--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to:
Gary Krakow is TheStreet's senior technology correspondent.

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