January is quickly winding down to a close, and Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Surface Pro is going to have to wait until next month before being available to the masses. That's slightly later than the software giant's previously announced January launch, but it's better late than never. Will Surface Pro be Microsoft's Valentine?

The company has now announced that the more powerful version of its flagship tablet will be available in the U.S. and Canada on Feb. 9, with retail prices starting at $899. This model runs Windows 8 and supports all legacy applications built for x86 architecture, unlike the previous Surface RT model that launched in October. That's because it carries a familiar Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) Ivy Bridge processor as opposed to the NVIDIA one powering the Surface RT.

Images

Source: Microsoft.

Microsoft is positioning Surface Pro as a bona fide laptop replacement, one that hopes to spearhead the recent form factor push that PCs are making into convertible territory. While the company is similarly pitching the productivity capabilities of its Surface RT, the lack of legacy app support make that a tough value proposition to deliver on. The difference in pricing also points to the different market segments that Microsoft is targeting.

Model

Entry-Level Storage

Entry-Level Price

Legacy App Support?

Surface RT

32 GB

$499

No

Surface Pro

64 GB

$899

Yes

Source: Microsoft.

Surface RT is clearly aiming at the full-sized tablet crowd, competing directly with Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad, which also starts at $499 for the newest models, although Apple still sells the older iPad 2 for $399.

In contrast, Surface Pro is looking to compete with full-featured laptops, like Apple's entry-level MacBook Air that starts at $999 and carries a similar Intel processor. Starting at $899, Surface Pro is cheaper than a MacBook Air but pricier than competing Ultrabooks, which can cost between $600 and $700.

That presents a challenge, because Microsoft will need to improve on communicating its value proposition with Surface Pro, since the device sits in an ambiguous position between the tablet market and the laptop market.

Fool contributor Evan Niu, CFA, owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Intel, and NVIDIA. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Intel, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.