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Report: Microsoft is going to try to make a cheap Surface tablet… again

$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.

Microsoft may release a lower-cost Surface tablet this year

It'll have a 10-inch screen and an available 128GB of storage. Microsoft will try making another inexpensive tablet. Redmond is rumored to launch a new, cheaper slate to compete with the iPad this year, according to Bloomberg's sources. Like Apple's tablet, the device will have rounded corners and a 10-inch screen, along with a kickstand and a USB C port for charging and syncing. It'll cost around $400, or half that of a Surface Pro. Configurations may include 64GB of storage and 128GB of storage, in addition to models with built-in LTE, and there will apparently be a new, lower-priced keyboard cover available as well. In terms of graphics and processors, Intel is on tap to supply both. Versus the current Surface Pro lineup, it's expected that the new lower cost model will weigh less (by 20 percent) and also have shorter battery life (by four hours). The kicker here is that the new lower-cost unit will apparently run Windows 10 Pro -- not Windows 10 S or a different OS like the Surface RT did. The Surface RT never really took off because of its software limitations. At one point, Microsoft gave away 10,000 of them to educators, before dropping the price to $200 for schools. Of course, the $500 Surface 3 exists, but that's three years old by this point. Based on the leaked details, regardless of whatever Microsoft ends up calling this, it could be a perfect fit for a lot of people. iOS isn't without its share of issues, and current Surface Books start at around double the rumored price.