Microsoft is planning to end production of its Atom-based Surface 3 tablets in December 2016. The tablet has been in short supply across retailer and even on the Microsoft Store, which the company has now confirmed to Thurrot is due to a gradual phase-out, with manufacturing ending altogether by the end of the year.

Microsoft says that since launching Surface 3 over a year ago, they've seen strong demand and customer satisfaction. What the company isn't saying at this point is whether it plans to release a successor to its entry level tablet. ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley did some digging around and says Microsoft is still going back and forth as to when to introduce a Surface 3 successor.

One possibility is Microsoft will try to line up a big Surface hardware release with the next major release of Windows 10 "Redstone 2", which is expected in early 2017.

Priced at $500 - $600 with a keyboard, the Surface 3 is a solid pick for anyone interested in a portable Windows 10 device but didn't want to spend upwards of $850 for the Surface Pro 4.

The original Surface RT and Surface Pro were announced just over four years ago, but neither was sold in significant numbers. Microsoft refined the formula with the second-generation Surface but it wasn't until started to move away from ARM SoCs and Windows RT, in favor of low-power x86 SoCs and a full fledged Windows experience that the lineup started to thrive.

The shortage only pertains to Surface 3 tablets, since all models of Surface Books and Surface Pro 4 tablets continue to be readily available.