Microsoft didn’t revamp much of its tablet line when it announced the Surface Pro 3 earlier this summer. New rumors indicate the company is planning to rectify that with what could be simply called the Surface 3, a refreshed version of the Windows tablet that is battling Apple’s iPhone for supremacy.
Digitimes, a long time purveyor of technology rumors shared what it believes to be accurate information earlier today. According to the report, Windows tablet buyers can look forward to a slimmer, thinner Surface 3 device in October.
Whether this device would include a 10.6 inch display to match older Surface devices or include a wider screen like the Surface Pro 3 does remains unclear. Another report originating from Neowin backs up Digitimes details and offers a few rumors of its own. It indicates that Microsoft will make this new Surface 3 compatible with the Surface Pen that it introduced with the Surface Pro 3. Reportedly, the Surface 3 coming out this October will also borrow the refreshed kickstand design from the Surface Pro 3.
Both reports are pretty clear on where Microsoft is positioning this rumored Surface 3. Allegedly, it’ll run Windows RT 8.1, not a full version of Windows as most Windows tablets do today. That means, that this Surface 3 won’t allow users to install desktop applications and won’t include an Intel processor, but will have super-long battery life.
That might sound strange – after all, even Microsoft’s hardware partners are creating cheap tablets with Intel processors and Desktop app compatibility – however, it does make sense. Under new CEO Satya Nadella, the Surface line isn’t meant to compete in areas where Microsoft’s hardware partners are already successful. Instead, Surface is now a way for Microsoft to fill gaps in the Windows hardware ecosystem. There’s been a lot of talk about that being the reason Microsoft decided to kill the Surface Mini that should have launched earlier this year.
This rumored Surface 3 does mesh with what we know about the Surface product line and how Microsoft has launched Surface devices in the past.
The original Surface launched in the fall. So did the Surface 2. The Surface 2 added a more powerful processor, a thinner form-factor and a two-step kickstand. As such, Digitimes, which hasn’t always been accurate in the past, could simply be making assumptions based on past trends. On the other hand, Neowin has provided accurate information in the past, including most of what we know about the Surface Mini and why it was cancelled at the last-minute.
Whether the Surface 3 will see widespread adoption thanks to a thinner form-factor and a few upgrades remains unclear. By most accounts, the Surface 2’s hardware was pretty impressive. Most agree it’s actually Microsoft’s advertisements and the Windows 8.1 operating system that are holding the Surface line of tablets back.
Unlike many of the Windows tablets that Dell, HP and Lenovo produce, the Surface 2 is meant to compete against Apple’s iPad. By most accounts, the iPad is an entertainment and light productivity device. It’s something that users can check email on, but mostly just browse the internet and listen to music with. The Surface 2 has an add-on keyboard cover that makes it perfect for hard-core productivity – provided that users don’t need to install a desktop app. The Surface 2 even comes with a version of Microsoft’s Office suite of productivity apps.
Today, the Surface 2 starts at $449 for a device with 32GB storage. Users can purchase that aforementioned add-on keyboard for an extra $119 or $129 if they want a model with physical keys. Whether this new Surface 3 device would start at that same price or include a cover remains unclear.