Earlier this year, Apple unveiled a cheaper $329 iPad in a pitch to the education market. In a bid to compete better with those cheaper iPads, Microsoft is reportedly planning to release a lower-cost Surface towards the of 2018 according to a Bloomberg report.
This new Surface will have a 10-inch screen which is about two inches smaller than the standard Surface Pro. They will apparently be about 20 percent lighter than the regular Surface but have a shorter battery life. For context, the Surface Pro can last about 12-13 hours on a single charge. The new Surface will lose about four hours, probably due to a smaller battery being installed. On the plus side, Microsoft will finally add a USB Type-C port for charging although it's unknown if it will be the sole connector for charging or if Microsoft will continue using their proprietary Surface port.
If this drive for a smaller Windows tablet to compete with the iPad sounds familiar, it's because Microsoft tried this before with the failed Surface RT. The original Surface RT was meant to fulfill the tablet only need for people who primarily used for content consumption. Unfortunately, the lack of support for traditional x86 applications and the relative dearth of apps in the Windows Store doomed the Surface RT. Ironically, Microsoft seems to be going down a similar path with the Windows 10 S "mode" of the operating system which limits apps to the Windows Store only. However, the new Surface will run Windows 10 Pro instead.
Like the iPad, this new low-cost Surface will come in 64 GB and 128 GB flavors and include LTE support for constant connectivity. It will also continue the trademark Surface kickstand and while current Surface Pros are squared off, the new Surface will have more rounded corners.
Obviously, since this hasn't been officially revealed or acknowledged by Microsoft, no launch date has been set. Since Android tablets are basically dead now, will Microsoft be the one to challenge Apple's dominance in the tablet market?