Microsoft Reportedly Prepping Budget Surface Tablet To Counter $329 iPad

Gwen Vasquez
May 17, 2018

Citing people familiar with the company's plans, Bloomberg is reporting that Microsoft is planning to introduce a new line of low-priced tablets to better compete with Apple's iPad. Bloomberg says that Microsoft is preparing cheaper versions of its type cover, stylus, and Surface-branded mouse to go along with the new tablet.

Microsoft looks poised to launch a new line of Surface devices with smaller screens and lower price tags.

The device will run Windows 10 pro like other Surface devices but will be lighter than the existing Surface Pro tablets. It should use Intel chips so customers can get all of their apps, and include a full version of Windows, but also use Qualcomm modems to provide cellular connectivity - as it did with the Surface Pro LTE. They'll also reportedly charge via USB-C, which is excellent news for everyone, since Microsoft's proprietary charger is notoriously unreliable.

Why Microsoft would attempt to dumb down the Surface brand at this stage with an affordable tablet that offers such pithy battery life remains to be seen.

According to IDC's latest numbers, Microsoft sold around 725,000 tablets in the first quarter of 2018.

Microsoft Reportedly Prepping Budget Surface Tablet To Counter $329 iPad

Microsoft, naturally, won't respond to queries about the device, which is reportedly set for a release in the second half of this year.

In March, Apple launched a new iPad model for $329 geared toward education users. In the past Microsoft released the Surface RT - which was a disaster - as well as the Surface 2 and Surface 3, though no entry in the cheaper line of laptop-tablet hybrid devices has achieved the same success as the Pro models. During that same period, Microsoft saw $4.4 billion in sales from its entire Surface hardware business.

Microsoft's Surface Pro (its most recent, fifth-generation device) with an Intel Core m3, 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB SSD, now sells for $799.

Surface revenue slumped 2%, which commentators claims is a result of the comparatively ageing Surface Pro line. The company stopped making it at the end of 2016.

The new Surface tablets will debut in 2H18.

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