Microsoft gives the Surface Pro a bigger SSD and tosses in Office 2013, with a catch

The Surface Pro is getting an upgraded storage option, Office 2013, and cool new touch covers--but not in the U.S.

The exclusive Japanese Touch Cover options.

The exclusive Japanese Touch Cover options.

Microsoft is super-sizing the storage on its Surface Pro tablet. There's a big catch with this upgrade, however: The newly expanded gigs (and a handful of other nifty extras) are only available in Japan--at least for now.

The Surface Pro with a 256 GB solid state drive will launch in Japan on June 7, according to AV Watch (via Engadget). It'll cost roughly $1,175, which is about $200 more expensive than the 128 GB model.

Customers in Japan will also be able to choose from a few special Touch Covers. Microsoft has already offered a few limited edition Touch Covers in other markets, but they aren't quite as bold as these designs, which include a colorful floral pattern and a mech-like "Logistics Conveyor Machine."

Microsoft is also throwing in its pressure-sensitive pen and a copy of Office 2013, which is an interesting addition. Recent rumors have suggested that Microsoft has been offering discounted Windows and Office licenses to manufacturers making sub 10.8-inch, touchscreen Windows devices.

More around the corner?

If you're jealous of the added storage, worry not; the Surface Pro is coming to Japan just before the arrival of Intel's next generation of processors, dubbed Haswell. These chips are expected to offer a 50 percent improvement in battery life for laptops, up to 20 times more standby battery life, and significantly better graphics performance.

Microsoft hasn't said whether the Surface Pro will be getting a Haswell upgrade, but we'd be surprised if it doesn't. Battery life on the existing Surface Pro is on the low end compared to premium laptops, and is much weaker than most tablets at about 5 hours. The Surface could certainly use the upgrade, and we wouldn't see surprised to see the Japanese storage boost comes along for the ride Stateside.

The Verge has reported that Microsoft will continue updating the Surface Pro with the latest chipsets from Intel, and the company may soon announce smaller Surface tablets as well. With Microsoft's Build developer conference scheduled for June 26 through June 28, Japan's roomier Surface Pro could just be a hint at better things to come.

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Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
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