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. Bloomberg says the new models should start at about $400, but with plenty of upgrade options for more storage and cellular connectivity. So if Microsoft makes and sells a low-priced Surface tablet powered by Windows 10, then the manufacturers would have the confidence to invest in tablets powered by Windows 10.
One of my contacts said Microsoft has been working on a low-end Surface device that would be priced at $399 without the separately-priced keyboard/cover. Apple is the dominant player in the tablet market and makes iPads ranging from $329 in price all the way up to over a $1,000 with the iPad Pro.
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.
Despite the recent launch of Always Connected PCs using the Qualcomm 835 SoC and Windows 10 on ARM, these new Surface tablets will reportedly stick with Intel processors, with optional LTE connectivity.
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The only tablets that have got a good response from the customers were Apple's iPads.
The biggest question about these new Surface devices is why. Bloomberg's report claims a new 10-inch Surface will be powered by Intel instead. Interestingly, the tablet will be priced around $400. Microsoft is said to be planning 64GB and 128GB models, and all configurations will run Windows 10 Pro. Like the Surface Pro, these models won't be bundled with the company's keyboard cover.
The new line will be part of a growing ecosystem of Microsoft hardware products that, beyond the tablets, includes the Surface Laptop, Surface Book laptop with a detachable screen, and the Surface Studio desktop computer.