Microsoft plans to take on Apple’s popular 9.7-inch iPad with a low-cost Surface tablet, according to a new report.
The device, which will be powered by Intel processors and priced at around $400, is expected to go on sale in the second half of 2018. It will be accompanied by more affordable versions of Microsoft’s keyboard cover, mouse, and Surface Pen.
Microsoft has dabbled with more affordable tablets in the past. Its Surface RT slates, which started at $499, offered fans the Surface experience with a watered-down version of Windows that could only run mobile apps. But they didn’t last long.
Microsoft scrapped the Surface RT lineup as a result of lackluster sales and disappointing reviews, and chose to focus on its high-end devices instead. Now that Apple’s more affordable iPad is killing it, however, Microsoft wants to take another stab stealing its customers.
Microsoft plans an affordable iPad rival
Bloomberg reports that Microsoft will launch a more affordable Surface tablet later this year. The 10-inch device will have rounded corners like an iPad, plus USB-C connectivity — a first for a Surface device — and new charging and syncing technology.
Intel is expected to supply processors and graphics chips for the device, which will last around nine hours in between charges. Sources say it will cost around $400 and will be accompanied by more affordable versions of Microsoft’s official Surface keyboard cover, mouse, and stylus.
The report doesn’t specify which operating system Microsoft will choose to power the tablet. It’s likely, however, that it will come with Windows 10 S, which gives users the Windows 10 feel and many of the same features, but only allows apps obtained from the Microsoft Store.
A paid upgrade to Windows 10 could be an option.
The iPad will remain more affordable
The iPad will remain a significantly more affordable option, starting at just $329 — or $299 for those in education. And now that it is compatible with Apple Pencil, it is even more difficult for the likes of Microsoft to offer compelling alternatives.
A true desktop operating system with mouse support could be a big draw for Microsoft’s new Surface device, however. Microsoft just needs to get it right this time.