Microsoft Corp.is planning to release a line of lower-cost Surface tablets as soon as the second half of 2018, seeking a hit in a market for cheaper devices that Apple Inc. dominates with the iPad, according to people familiar with the matter.
Microsoft hasn't really refreshed the design of its Surface tablets since the 2014 Surface Pro 3, so it will be interesting to see Panos Panay's team can out-innovate Apple's popular but slightly dated iPad design.
Microsoft tried to do this before when it released the $499 Surface RT tablet in 2012.
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According to the report, these tablets are going to feature Type-C USB connectivity, which is going to be a first for a Surface device and it could allow users to hook these slates up to a separate monitor in order to increase their overall workspace and improve their productivity.
Although low-powered devices often ship with ARMCPUs, the new tablets will reportedly sport Intel hardware, though chip specifics have yet to be detailed. Like the Surface Pro, these models won't be bundled with the company's keyboard cover. They will also be 20% lighter than the current Surface lineup and will have rounded edges like iPads. Over the past five years, Panay's team has built the foundation for Surface on the high end, content to let Microsoft's hardware partners fill out the other parts of the market.
It has been reported that Microsoft is trying to focus on education as a selling point for its tablets. The new devices will cost as little as $400, and be paired with a cheaper keyboard cover to make a practical laptop alternative that comes in at around $500. The current keyboard cover costs an extra Dollars 160; the new keyboard will go for a bit lower. It will continue to have the kickstand for upright typing and watching video. It's likely, however, that it will come with Windows 10 S, which gives users the Windows 10 feel and numerous same features, but only allows apps obtained from the Microsoft Store.