Though this may sound familiar, Microsoft is reportedly planning a line of lower-cost Surface tablets to challenge Apple's least expensive iPads 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. Since they're expected to pack Intel chips, they'll run full Windows 10 Pro - Microsoft is at least wisely avoiding "splitting" Windows again with a new class ARM-powered devices, like it did with Windows RT.
Microsoft has had their hand in the tablet market with the Surface line, but with a different approach.
Apple has managed to generate nearly four times the revenue through iPad sales versus the Surface lineup. iPad sales generated $20 billion in revenue in the past four business quarters, while Microsoft managed to generate $4.4 billion in the same period. Over the past five years, Panay's team has built the foundation for Surface on the high end, content to let Microsoft's hardware partners fill out the other parts of the market.
Microsoft's always taken a premium approach to its Surface line, showing users what its operating system can do when run on top of the line hardware.
Microsoft shares are down 0.3% to $97.04. The smaller size means that these models will have smaller battery, and Bloomberg expects a four hours difference compared to the Surface Pro. The new devices will cost as little as $400, and be paired with a cheaper keyboard cover to make a practical laptop alternative that comes in at around $500.
Microsoft declined to comment on the rumors of a cheaper Surface model, Bloomberg said.
There will be versions with 64 and 128 GB of storage, and models that connect to LTE cellular networks.
The latest incarnation of the tablet integrates with Apple Pencil and is available for $299 for schools in the US.
The home button would be dropped in favor of an all-screen device, not unlike the 10th anniversary iPhone X, which was released last fall.