Microsoft may be planning to launch a new tablet featuring a low-power processor and a relatively low price tag.

WinBeta reports that the upcoming Surface 3 tablet will be the successor to last year’s Surface 2. But it’ll have an Intel processor rather than an ARM chip and it’ll run the full Windows operating system instead of Windows RT.

The new tablet will be a low-cost alternative to the Surface Pro 3 which has a starting price of $799.

Update: Microsoft has officially launched the $499 Surface 3 with an Intel Atom Cherry Trail processor.

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According to WinBeta, Microsoft could launch the tablet at (or before) the BUILD developer conference in late April. That means it would likely run Windows 8.1 for now, but it would probably be eligible for a free update to Windows 10 when the next version of Microsoft’s operating system launches this summer.

Word has it that the tablet will feature an Intel Atom or Intel Core M processor, feature a fanless design, and be marketed as a non-professional device.

Given Microsoft’s latest stance on what makes a device “professional,” that could be a sign that new tablet will have a screen size of 10.1 inches or smaller and that it’ll come with a free version of Microsoft Office (which may have limited functionality).

Last year there were reports that Microsoft as working on a Surface Mini tablet which was eventually scrapped. That model was said to feature an ARM-based chip and Windows RT software and it was likely designed at a time when that strategy seemed to make sense… which is to say before tablets with Intel chips and the full Windows 8.1 experience started showing up for as little as $100 or less.

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46 replies on “Report: Microsoft Surface 3 Windows tablet coming soon”

  1. Surface 3 Pro? Microsoft definitely knows how to make their naming convention as confusing as possible.

    1. There’s a typo in the article.

      That said, going forward:
      Surface Pro line = performance
      Surface line = budget

  2. Very interesting, I’m still enjoying my S2 but full x86 at a similar price would have me open the wallet.
    Hoping that it’s CherryTrail x7 based as core M is too expensive and I’d rather go full SP3 at that level.
    Might still pick up a SP3, but will wait and see what this turns out to be.

  3. I’ve had a lot of Android and Windows tablets of different sizes. To me the smallest Win tab I would want would be about 9″. Windows at 8″ – just can’t imagine Windows desktop being useful. And if you don’t want the desktop there’s not too much point in going with Win over Android, frankly Android wins pretty easily. I can see the 12.5″ SP3 being a bit too big for portability. I have an 8″ Samsung that is pretty great for an Android. If you could squeeze at least 9″ out of that same size chassis that could be pretty irresistable.

    Basically MS needs to work it’s bezels down. Give me a 13 or 13.5″ Surface Pro 4 no bigger than the current 3 chassis. And on the small end, a sleek 9″. Combine all that with the Win 10 release and MS could have a pretty stellar year coming up.

  4. Make it X7 Z8700 Chery Trail, 8Gb RAM, Optically bonded 10-12 inch, active digitizer, 802.11ac, GPS, LTE, 1080p front camera, front firing speakers, IR blast/receive, 2x Type-A USB 3.0, HDMI, user replaceable mSATA, bring it in under $500 and you have a winner.

    1. Make them $99 and they’d fly off the shelves. Heck, why not throw in a free HD external monitor while we’re at it?

      1. Albeit much ? 🙂 Also I forgot to mention the active digitizer should come with it’s own pen and a proper silo, none of this folio flap nonsense like on the Pro 3.

    2. 8Gb RAM seems like overkill to pair with Cherry Trail, but everything else in your spec looks like what I’m after. 4Gb would be the way to keep the cost down.

      1. But that 4Gb end up divided with the GPU, and you realistically end up with 3Gb, and given that the Z8700 can handle 8, I think 6 for the system and 2 for video is where the sweet spot is going to be for these new x5, x7 Atoms.

  5. The Surface Pro 3 has been positioned as a higher end-laptop replacement with combined tablet functionality. I hope the Surface 3 could be marketed as a cheaper laptop+tablet replacement, which would mean a decently large screen, say 11.6″ if 16:9 format, or even go for a 4:3 or 3:2 screen but perhaps without the super high resolution of the Surface Pro 3. I think a Windows machine really needs a reasonably sized screen to be productive for most people, and productivity is really what still sets Windows apart from IOS and Android, so it seems best they capitalize on it – the simplistic App market may be a lost cause for Microsoft at this point in time. There are plenty of people comfortably using lower-specced laptops for productivity, it would be nice to see a good quality entry into this space from Microsoft.

  6. I hope it has higher processor than atom or I might as well buy something else

  7. YES. Loved my Surface 2 while I had it. Would have been even better with an Atom or Core M. The build quality and screens are awesome on Surfaces!

  8. Surely will be an atom, I think core M is more likely on their next Pro model. Don’t think core M has shown itself to be viable in a small fanless tablet yet either.

    1. core M might bring the price up, I’m thinking it may be cherry trail atom

    2. Theres no way the Pro 4 will have a Core M.

      My guess is that Microsoft will skip the Broadwell generation, and wait for Skylake. There aren’t going to be very many Broadwell SKUs, and Skylake is coming in Q3

      1. I wouldn’t discount the Core M option yet… The option to go thinner and lighter, as well as fan-less, is also a counter point to it’s lack of performance… Mind that larger tablets get easier to hold and more easily used in a portable fashion if they can be made thin and light enough… While, If Intel can avoid the throttling issues Lenovo and others have experienced with Core M then they could provide noticeably better performance and might be a viable alternative to the Core i3 option…

        Broadwell is likely to get phased out very quickly, mostly because it was nearly half a year late to market and because Intel decided not to delay Skylake’s release any further…

        Btw, Skylake will start coming out in Q2… The Q3 release are for the higher end models, namely the ones that replace Devil’s Canyon’s… and the Y-Chip/CoreM Skylake release will be in Q4… and if MS waits for that version then it gives the Core M option a better chance with a improved Skylake version…

  9. Definitely good news, I’d be interested in an 8-9 inch surface around $400-500.

    The base storage option would have to be at least 64gb. I would also want at least 1080 resolution as well.

    1. 32GB is sufficient for basic tasks, I’m sure that will be the base model. It’s ridiculous to say it “would have to be at least 64GB”.. it makes no difference if they offer a cheaper, lower storage version for those who want it so long as they have 64GB+ models at reasonable prices.

      1. The reason I’m expecting it to start at 64gb is that there are some 128gb and 256gb options starting at $699 these days.

        Honestly I’d buy the T300 Chi over this new Surface, if the Surface was any lower than 64gb, and priced any higher than $500.

    2. …..lenovo yoga tablet 2 8 with windows, 64gb space with expansion, 1080p resolution, semi decent pen input, less than 300 dolla, has kickstand, all day battery

      basically im saying that you need to set your dreams higher for this microsoft surface as your current prayers have already been answered and then some

      1. Good point. Windows notebook/tablet manufacturers have not been sitting still. There are some good quality alternatives.

      1. I agree with Brad, MS clearly stated that anything above 10.1 inch is a professional device.

    1. Doubt it. I’m not sure I would want the stylus on a smaller model, only because the Surface stylus isn’t stowable internally. I would lose it.

      1. The current stylus isn’t stowable internally, they’ve had nearly a year to jigger. A man can dream anyway.

      2. I think a consistent branding (surface = has digitizer) would be worth more to them than the small cost saving or trying to push people up to the pro– given there will probably be quite a difference in performance to act as a differentiator. They will probably be targeting the higher end of small tablets too, and given you can get a digitizer on a $200 dell, it would seem a little weak without one.

        Having it stowable would be nice, but there’s no reason it couldn’t be.

        1. Microsoft has already been selling non-digitizer Surfaces since 2012. I don’t think they intended to make that a consistent feature across the Surface lineup.

          1. Microsoft needs to do something to straighten the mess they created in their naming scheme for Surface devices….

            1st Gen
            RT: Surface RT
            x86: Surface Pro

            2nd Gen
            RT: Surface 2 (and referred to the original Surface RT as simply, “Surface”)
            x86: Surface Pro 2

            3rd Gen
            RT: No 3rd gen RT device
            x86: Surface Pro 3

            4th Gen
            RT: no 4th gen RT device
            x86: Surface 3 ?
            x86: Surface Pro 4 ?

            Any Surface device that doesn’t have the “Pro” suffix is going to be confused with the RT-based models.

            If history is any indicator of the future, they’ll probably produce a “Surface 3” that uses a different active digitizer technology than the Pro.

          2. First of all, around 10″ in size would make a lot of sense, I think. Secondly, please let it be Core M for that size, not Atom. Thirdly, you are right, it would create confusion for those very few people out there who know what a surface is, let alone understands the difference between them. At least with an x86 processor, they would have a consistent story going forward, namely x86 on all models. Even the Surface Mini should have an x86 then, but an Atom variant. So:
            Surface Mini (8″): Atom
            Surface (10″): Core M
            Surface Pro: Core i-series

            Digitizer in all of them. It makes even more sense in smaller devices, cause holding the pro and simultaneously handwriting is not optimal.

            IF they are successful with the Windows Apps (aka. universal apps) then they could release a 7″ tablet, but under the Lumia branding with an ARM processor. It would be a tablet, running all Windows Apps, but no desktop. It could run Windows 10 Mobile.

            Surface: Windows w/desktop on x86
            Lumia: Windows Mobile wo/desktop on ARM

            Same Windows Apps on all devices, more or less. Later on down the road this even opens up the possibility for a Surface Phone with an x86 processor…

          3. Profit margin in the 8″ tablet market is too thin. Also Intel Core M is too expensive.

            Going forward:

            Surface (10″): Intel Atom x7
            Surface Pro (13″): Intel Core i3/i5/i7

          4. Turns out you were right 🙂

            I’d still be curious to see whether an ARM based 7+ inches tablet could be made, however.

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