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Microsoft hopes for FONDLESLAB FRENZY as Surface Pro 3 debuts

User-guide slips show Surface Mini expected soon

Surface Pro kickstand

As expected, Microsoft has started sales of its latest iteration of its Surface Pro, hoping that it'll be third-time's a charm for Redmond's attempts to seduce fondleslab buyers into the joys of Windows 8.

"I'm pretty pumped today, because Surface Pro 3 – the tablet that can replace your laptop – is now on sale at retail stores, online, and through authorized resellers in Canada and the United States," said Microsoft's Panos Panay, VP of Microsoft Surface.

"I've been using a Surface Pro 3 as my main machine for months now, and I know you're going to love this new device."

Microsoft has made much of the Surface Pro 3's new features, intended to make it a replacement for the laptops many of us lug around. They're especially keen on the magnetic keyboard lock designed to steady it, and the fully adjustable kickstand. While promising, it still looks like you'd have trouble balancing the unit on your knees unless you're over six-feet tall.

Buyers in the US and Canada who preordered the Pro 3 with an Intel Core i5 processor will get their hardware beginning Friday, while budget buyers after the Core i3 model and those after the Core i7 model will be able to get their hands on their kit starting August 1 from retail, online, and resellers.

Also on August 1, Microsoft will release Surface Pros to 26 other world markets, including the UK, Germany, Japan, Korea, and France. No release date has been given for Microsoft's attempt to woo Middle Kingdom buyers with the shiny new fondleslab.

The very first thing new Pro 3 owners will want to do is update their operating systems with the latest patches. Microsoft released a firmware update for the Pro on June 10 to deal with stability issues with the operating system and increase the amount of standby battery life.

Microsoft is also selling a docking station for the hardware, for those who want a few extra ports and who won't be using its kickstand in the office. The docking station will be available in the US and Canada from August 15, and presumably a little later for the rest of the world.

The announcement was expected after Microsoft knocked between $100 and $200 off the price of a Surface Pro 2 last week. This allowed it and its partners to shift the remaining inventory to make way for the new model, but there are still units available if you fancy a budget version using Microsoft's old kickstand.

In the user guide for the Surface Pro 3 there are a number of hints that Microsoft might have a pint-sized version of the Surface in mind, even though there's no sight of it at the moment.

There had been hints that Microsoft would be launching a Mini version of the Surface ahead of the May 20 launch event, but in the end there was only news of the Pro 3 itself. Rumor has it that Microsoft pulled the Mini at the last minute, but it seems it didn't tell the documentation writers in time.

That Mini references were being built into product documentation and made it through to the final edit suggests plans for the Mini were very well advanced, indeed. The cut-down version of the Pro was expected to be around seven or eight inches tall, but so far the device has yet to see the light of day.

El Reg has been in contact with Redmond about the Mini references, but have received only a "no comment" in response, and the user manual has been taken off the website. Presumably a copy editor is being hauled over the coals as you read this. ®

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