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A pulse-modulated nonequilibrium atmospheric-pressure microwave argon surface wave plasma is generated by means of a preionization discharge with a single-electrode plasma jet driven by a power supply of 50 kHz. It is found that the electron induced Saha-like balance dominates excitation process in the plasma discharge through the electron temperature varying with the microwave input power and the applied voltage of kilohertz power supply. The microwave pulse-modulating effect on nonequilibrium characteristics of dual-frequency exciting argon surface wave plasma is studied by spectroscopic measurement of the excitation temperature and gas temperature.