After revealing this summer that it would wind down production of the Microsoft Surface 3, Microsoft seems to be done selling its cheapest Windows tablet… at least through its own store.
The Microsoft Store lists the Surface 3 as out of stock, although it’s still available from some third-party retailers. Amazon has some in stock for $430 and up. Refurbished models sell for even less.
But it seems likely that once existing supplies run out, the only models that you’ll be able to find will be used or refurbished, because Microsoft doesn’t seem to be making the tablet anymore, and it’s not entirely clear if there will be a replacement.
The Surface tablet has always been divided into two categories: high-end Surface Pro hardware with Intel Core processors and more affordable Surface tablets with starting prices of $500 or less.
The first few models in the latter category had ARM-based processors and ran Windows RT software, which meant they were unable to run many of the most popular Windows apps. But the Surface 3 features an Intel Atom x7-Z8700 processor and the full Windows 10 operating system, which means you can use it to do just about anything you’d use a Surface Pro tablet for… it’ll just do those things a bit more slowly.
But with a starting price of $499, the tablets weren’t exactly cheap — especially since that price doesn’t include an optional keyboard cover. So if you wanted to use the tablet as a laptop replacement, you’d need to spend at least $629. And then you’d still be stuck with a system with just 2GB of RAM and 64GB of storage unless you paid another $100 for a 4GB/128GB model. At that rate, you might just be better off buying a Surface Pro… or a different tablet altogether.
It’ll be interesting to see if Microsoft decides to launch a new entry-level tablet in the coming year, or if the company might shift the focus for its Surface family to higher-priced, higher-performance systems. The introduction of the Surface Book last year and the Surface Studio this year would certainly suggest the company is treating the Surface line of products as premium devices.
But there have also been rumors for years that the company would eventually launch a Surface Phone, which could be a mobile device designed to appeal to some of the folks who had preferred the smaller, more portable Surface 3 to its larger siblings in the Surface family.