Microsoft is working on a new line of budget Surface tablets to better compete with Apples low-cost iPad options, according to a report from Bloomberg. According to the report, the new Surface tablets wont just be smaller, cheaper Surface Pros. Rather, Microsoft is said to be completely redesigning the devices, with 10-inch screens instead of the 12-inch size currently found on the Surface Pro, rounded corners that more resemble an iPad than the more rectangular Surface design, and USB-C for charging. Most importantly, priced at $400, they will be more in line with Apples cheaper tablets, too. Bloomberg also claims that the new models will be around 20 percent lighter than the current Surface Pro, although that reduced weight comes at the cost of around four hours fewer of battery life. Like the full-size Surface, the new budget Surface computer will feature Intel processors and graphics, and run the full version of Windows 10 Pro. (No word on whether or not S Mode will be enabled by default, which may make sense given the budget nature of the device.) And like the iPad, Microsoft is said to be planning on models that offer LTE connectivity, which the company finally brought to the full-size Surface Pro earlier this year. The iconic Surface kickstand is also said to be sticking around, although the new models wont come with a keyboard or stylus in the box. Microsoft is apparently working on new, cheaper versions of the keyboard cover, stylus, and mouse to accompany the new Surface tablets; the current model costs an extra $159. The cheapest version of the current generation Surface Pro starts at $799, compared to the base model 9.7-inch iPad that (while not a comparable device spec-wise) costs just a fraction of that price tag at $329. The new budget Surface models wont be Microsofts first attempt to make a cheaper Surface tablet. Past years have seen models like the $499 Surface RT, Surface 2, and Surface 3 models, but the lineup was never able to achieve the same success as the more powerful Surface Pro versions, and Microsoft eventually discontinued the Surface 3 back in 2016.
$400 Intel-powered device reported to be coming later this year. Bloomberg reports that Microsoft is going to release a $400, 10-inch, Intel-powered Surface tablet in the second half of the year, in a renewed effort to take on the iPad. This represents a return to a strategy the company has tried before. The original ARM Surface RT and Surface 2 and the Intel-equipped Surface 3 were all attempts to offer a low(ish) priced tablet operating in the same approximate market as the iPad. None saw any great success, however, and the Surface 3 was discontinued in late 2016. The winner in the Surface line has been the more expensive Surface Pro series: Microsoft found a formula that worked with the Surface Pro 3 and has seen steady sales and a proliferation of copycat devices. The problem with Surface Pro is the price: the current-generation Surface Pro starts at $799. This makes it a hard sell for markets such as education, where it's going up against systems such as Apple's new $329 iPad (sold to schools for $299), and various Chromebooks running Google's Chrome OS. Bloomberg writes that the new tablet will break from the Surface line's square styling, instead having a more rounded look, and will use USB Type-C—not the proprietary Surface Connect port—for its charging and syncing. Weight will be around 20 percent less than the current Pros, with battery life of around 9-10 hours. Storage sizes of 64 and 128GB are planned, as is a version with LTE connectivity.