Surface 2 release date arrives

The Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 devices are now available to buy in the UK, as Microosft pushes ahead with its tablet making ambitions.

However, high street retailer Argos may have jumped the gun by putting the Surface 2 on sale before its official release.

The device, which went on sale today, was available to buy through the retailer's website and pick up in store days before its release.

According to a report on The Verge, it was just the 32GB and 64GB Surface 2 models that went on sale early, not the Surface Pro 2 or their accompanying Touch and Type covers.

In a statement to the publication, Argos said it withdrew the product from sale shortly afterwards.

"We fully comply with embargos issued by our suppliers and have withdrawn the Microsoft Surface 2 from sale with immediate effect," the statement read.

"We are working with Microsoft to investigate this error as a matter of urgency."

Surface 2 launch

At the Surface 2 launch event in New York last month, the company kicked off proceedings by treating attendees to a sneak peek at its next generation Surface Pro, which comes with a starting price of 720 ($899).

The device is available in 64GB or 128 GB configurations, with 4GB of RAM. Users also have a choice of 256GB and 512GB versions, which come equipped with 8GB RAM.

The business-focused Surface Pro 2 features a whole host of enhancements over its predecessor, according to Microsoft, with its performance, battery and screen specs all receiving a boost.

"We improved the performance on this product by 20 per cent, if you thought it was fast before it is lightning fast now," said Panos Panay, vice president of Surface at Microsoft.

As such, the Surface Pro 2 will be powered by a fourth-generation Intel Core i5 Haswell processor, which Microsoft claims will boost its battery life by around 60 per cent over the previous generation.

"It is the most productive, professional tablet in the world," he added.

The reworked device comes equipped with a range of ports, including a quicker USB 3.0 ports.

The vendor then went on to treat attendees to a first look at the replacement for the Surface RT, which Panay described as a "real revamp" compared to its predecessor.

The device will run the Windows RT 8.1 operating system, is "thinner, lighter and faster", claimed Panay, and will be compatible with the 100,000 apps offered through the Windows Store.

The 10.6in Surface 2 features a NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor. This, Microsoft claims, should provide users with a battery life of up to 10 hours of video playback.

"This is the fastest product I've used relative to a personal tablet," he added.

Surface 2 is available in 32GB and 64GB configurations, with prices starting from $449 for the device.

Both devices will be available to pre-order on 24 September.

To sweeten the deal, users that opt for either device will benefit from free Skype calling to landlines in more than 60 countries, as well as unlimited access to Skype Wi-Fi hotspots, for one year.

Surface 2 buyers will also benefit from 200GB of free SkyDrive cloud storage for two years.

Surface 2 accessories

Another feature that was widely tipped to make an appearance on the next generation devices was the Surface docking station, which Panay demonstrated onstage. The new addition means both devices can power two monitors at a time, and connect to a range of other PC peripherals.

However, this feature isn't expected to make an appearance until early next year, and when it does, looks likely to set users back by around $199.99.

The company also showcased its new Power Cover accessory, which features an in-built 30wh battery, and is compatible with the original Surface Pro, as well as Microsoft's next generation devices.

Again, this accessory has a projected release date of early 2014, and is expected to retail at $199.99.

The Redmond giant has also outlined updates to its Type and Touch Cover offerings, with the former now featuring backlit keys, while the latter is reportedly lighter and thinner than the original version.

The Type 2 Cover is available in Cyan, Magenta, Purple and Black and will have an estimated retail price of $129.99, while the Touch Cover 2 will be sold for $119.99.

The next-generation devices will have some significant ground to make up, as the response to the Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets from consumers and business users has been mixed to date.

This is a situation Microsoft will undoubtedly be hoping to reverse with the release of the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2.

Now Microsoft has revealed what's in store for next-generation Surface buyers, take a look over our earlier wishlist of Surface 2 features to see what, if any, got a look in this time around...

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.