As promised, Microsoft has made available its Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2 for purchase from today, meaning that users can finally get their hands on the new tablet devices with the Windows 8.1 operating system built in.
Microsoft unveiled the updated Surface devices at an event in New York last month, and detailed 21 countries including the UK where they were to go on sale first. The tablets and their new accessories can now be picked up at Microsoft retail stores as well as select third-party retailers such as John Lewis, Currys and Argos, as well as Microsoft's Surface website.
The Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2 are updated and improved versions of the original Surface Pro and Surface RT that launched last year with the Windows 8 operating system and the Windows RT derivative. Both have been given more powerful processors, along with a number of other improvements.
The Surface Pro 2 features the latest Intel Haswell 4th generation Core i5 processor technology for better performance and battery life, plus a two-position kickstand to make it easier to use on your lap. More configurations are also available; 4GB of memory with 64GB or 128GB storage, and 8GB memory with 256GB or 512GB of storage, with prices starting at £719.
Meanwhile, the ARM-based Surface 2 features an Nvidia Tegra 4 processor for better performance, a 1920x1080 full HD display and USB 3.0 port. It is available with32GB or 64GB storage, with prices starting at £359.
New accessories for the tablets include a Docking Station that allows users to connect to desktop peripherals such as an external monitor, keyboard and Ethernet LAN, plus new thinner keyboard covers, along with a new Power Cover that extends the battery life of the tablet.
Microsoft faces a tough battle to shift the devices, though, with Apple set to unveil new iPad devices at an event later on Tuesday and Nokia unveiling its Lumia 1520 tablet on Windows RT at an event on Tuesday morning. Cheap devices from Argos and Tesco are also set to hit the market.
The availability of the new tablets comes just a few days after the general availability of the updated Windows 8.1 operating system itself, plus its Windows 8.1 RT version for ARM devices.
Microsoft has now confirmed that some owners of the Surface RT have been hit by a technical issue when upgrading to the new platform, leading to the device becoming unusable.
In a statement, Microsoft said: "Based on our investigations of a situation customers have encountered updating to Windows RT 8.1, we can confirm that as of now this is a Windows update issue only affecting Surface RT customers. While only less than one out of every 1,000 Surface RT customers who have installed Windows RT 8.1 have been impacted, improving their experience and ensuring their systems are fully operable as quickly as possible is our number one priority."
Microsoft has now made a recovery image for the Surface RT available for download along with instructions to help affected customers recover from the error. However, this is currently available only in a US English language version, with other versions promised shortly.