Why it matters: A low-cost Surface Laptop would allow Microsoft to compete quite handily with Chromebooks and iPads. Many students are in need of laptops for distance learning, so having a $500 laptop that fulfills that need would be welcome. A budget price combined with the excellent build quality of a Surface device would make it quite competitive.
Surface devices have generally been priced on the premium side of the spectrum. However, Microsoft seemed to realize that it could find success on the budget end with the release of the Surface Go tablet. The company looks to continue that trend with a budget-friendly Surface Laptop.
According to Windows Central, this lower cost Surface laptop, codenamed "Sparti," will sport a 12.5-inch display and feature an Intel Core i5, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of base storage. It will also ship with Windows 10 in "S mode" by default which forces users to only install applications from the Windows Store. Pricing will reportedly fall between $500 and $600.
While those specs are modest, Windows Central's sources confirm that the overall build quality is still on par with higher priced Surface products. That means the new Surface Laptop will likely be made of magnesium and feature the usual stellar keyboard, trackpad, and webcam.
This is important as more people work or learn from home. Microsoft is likely trying to position this as an alternative to an iPad, a MacBook Air or Google Chromebook. Paying $500 for a Surface Laptop is definitely easier to swallow than the current $1,000 Surface Laptop 3. This also combines with Microsoft's ongoing efforts to push its Microsoft 365 subscription and Teams integration.
Finally, this is also great for people who like the portability of the Surface Go but not necessarily the form factor.
One of the consistent negatives of the Surface products is that it still doesn't quite equal a proper laptop in terms of on-lap use. The smaller 12.5-inch footprint of the Surface Laptop would make it more portable while retaining the ability to use it comfortably on the desk or the lap.
The budget-friendly Surface Laptop is rumored to be announced some time in October alongside other products.