Microsoft Corp introduced a larger-screen version of one of its Surface tablet computers, offering a lighter and thinner device that the company cast as a potential successor for laptop PCs.
The software company introduced the new device, called the Surface Pro 3, at an event Tuesday in New York. The device, like prior Pro models in the Surface line, is powered by Intel Corp. computer chips. Microsoft said the new version’s display measures 12 inches diagonally, compared with the 10.6-inch screens of existing Surface devices.
Microsoft said the Surface Pro 3 will start at $799 without a keyboard. A keyboard that doubles as a device cover will cost $129.99. The top end of the product line, with the most powerful Intel chip, lists for $1,949 without a keyboard.
The Surface Pro 3, like prior versions of the Surface Pro laptop-plus-tablet, is powered by Intel Corp. computer chips.
At the event Tuesday, Microsoft officials repeatedly compared the Surface Pro 3 with laptop personal computers like Apple Inc’s MacBook Air, rather than discuss competitors in the tablet market, where Microsoft remains a bit player. The MacBook Air costs $899 and up.
Microsoft’s positioning underscores its troubles in becoming a major competitor in tablets, where price tags of less than $200 have become commonplace for consumer-oriented models. The company’s share of the market was less than 4% last year, according to research firm IDC.
Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella and other officials stressed what they said were limits of existing tablet computers for activities like writing documents or other work that isn’t Web surfing or reading digital books. They also stressed drawing and note-taking with an upgraded digital-pen accessory that comes with the Surface Pro 3.
“This is the tablet that can replace your laptop,” Panos Panay, a Microsoft executive working on Surface devices, said about the Surface Pro 3.
Microsoft said it would start taking orders Wednesday for the new device.
Steven Sinofsky, a former Microsoft executive who helped spearhead development of the Surface, said Tuesday the Surface Pro 3 “realizes the ‘no compromises’ vision of Surface.”
Dating back to the early 2000s, Microsoft officials have used the expression “no compromises” to describe their vision of a device that combines the best features of tablets and laptops.
Microsoft also has been developing for months a tablet similar to Apple’s 7.9-inch iPad Mini, and some media reports had indicated that device would be announced Tuesday. Smaller tablets accounted for more than half of all tablets sold last year.
In an interview Tuesday, Mr. Panay said Microsoft is “looking at an array of devices. It comes down to what customers need right now.”
He also addressed a different type of Windows software used on more iPad-like tablets, including one model of Surface devices. That operating software, Windows RT, isn’t compatible with many older PC applications or software. Windows RT “is a critical element as well,” Mr. Panay said. “It’s still pumping.”
Some analysts said Tuesday Microsoft was sensible for targeting businesses and workers, rather than consumer applications, with the Surface Pro.
“This is a smart move by Microsoft,” said Patrick Moorhead, president of research firm Moor Insights & Strategy. “Surface Pro 3 is more of a laptop replacement than a device that replaces your seven-to-eight-inch tablet.”
As Microsoft touts the abilities of Surface to replace laptops, it has the potential to anger companies like Dell Inc. that also make tablets and laptops powered by the Windows operating system. At the event, however, Mr. Nadella said Microsoft isn’t trying to compete with its computer-hardware partners.
Some Microsoft investors don’t want Microsoft to make its own computing devices at all. The company incurs a loss on each Surface it sells, and the company’s critics say Microsoft hasn’t made a compelling case for expanding its hardware ambitions.
Microsoft officials, including Mr. Nadella on Tuesday, say homegrown devices like the Surface are the best showcase for Microsoft software like Office, Skype and digital file-storage service OneDrive.
“We are not building hardware for hardware’s sake,” Mr. Nadella said during a brief appearance at the Surface event. “We want to build experiences that bring together all the capabilities of our company.”
Daniel Ives, a Microsoft analyst with FBR Capital Markets, said Surface Pro 3 “appears to be an impressive” device, but he said persuading consumers to buy the Surface “remains a Kilimanjaro-like challenge given intense competition.”