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Surface Go Microsoft

Surface Go is Microsoft's Latest Effort to Grow Surface Brand

After rumors and leaks over the last several weeks, last night Microsoft unveiled their latest edition to the Surface family. The new device, Surface Go, introduces the Surface brand to a new market of buyers with an entry level price tag of $399 which is much less expensive then other devices in the Surface family.

Last year when Microsoft launched the Surface Laptop running Windows 10 S, the purported focus was on the education market. However, with a $999 entry-level model, there was no way that device was going to compete with less expensive iPads and Chromebooks. That all changes with the launch of Surface Go -- and this product is going to grow the broader Surface community as it comes to market.

Chromebooks are so well-established in the education market -- and so budget-friendly with a $200-or-below pricetag --  it is unlikely that Surface Go will make any significant dents in the laptop area. However,  Apple's recently-launched iPad, announced back in March 2018, is going to be a primary competitor to Surface Go in the education space.

As you can see in our device comparison chart, they have some closely matched digital and physical specifications and characteristics.



Surface Go





1.03 lbs

1.15 lbs

Screen Size

9.7" (Diagonal)
IPS Technology

10 point multi-touch
Optically bonded

Screen Resolution

2048 x 1536
264 PPI

1800 x 1200
217 PPI

(Base Model)


64GB (eMMC)


A10 Fusion Chip
64-bit architecture
Embedded M10 coprocessor

Intel Pentium
Gold Processor 4415Y
Dual core

Battery Life

Up to 10 hours

Up to 9 hours

Accessories (1)

Apple Pencil ($89.00)
Logitech Slim Folio Case
with integrated Bluetooth Keyboard ($99.95)
Logitech Crayon ($49.95) (2)

Surface Mobile Mouse ($34.99)
Surface Pen ($99.99)
Surface Go Type Cover Black ($99.00)
Surface Go Type Cover Alcantara ($129.00)

Base Price

$329.00 (3)

$399.00 (4)


(1) Accessories are not included with the base devices and represent an additional cost.
(2) This is only available for purchase by schools through Apple's Educational Channel.
(3) This is the retail price off the shelf but eligible persons can get a $20 discount on this price and institutions purchasing in bulk can get a further discount to $299 per unit.
(4) This is the retail price off the shelf for the Windows 10 Home in S Mode version of the device. An option exists for commercial customers to pay an additional $50 to get the device with Windows 10 Pro. Microsoft is offering discounted pricing of $379.05 for eligible students, parents, teachers and military.

At first glance, it seems the Apple iPad wins the battle owing to the base costs for each device.

However, those two base prices merely get the hardware in your hand. If you want to increase your productivity on these two devices then you are going to want at least a compatible pen and keyboard for each --  plus the Surface Go has a mouse. Depending on your choice of pen for the iPad and keyboard for the Surface Go, that will add anywhere from $150 to $189 to the iPad and a staggering $234 to $264 to the Surface Go. (Of course, there are less expensive options for some of these accessories, but for the purposes of our comparison, we are going to stick with the official or recommended product accessories.)

If you pair together the cost of the current top-end model of Surface Go -- a device with 128GB of SSD storage, 8GB of RAM and a $549 price tag -- with the peripherals, you are quickly approaching the lower reaches of Surface Pro and Surface Laptops based on current pricing and offers from Microsoft.

So your next consideration is the form factor you want to have for your Surface. I suspect many consumers will go with the Surface Go to become part of the brand family. However, as a 10-inch tablet with full touch and inking support, it can become a very comfortable second screen for consumption, social media and light email, not unlike the capabilities inherent in the Apple iPad.

Then comes one of the biggest arguments when it comes to a discussion on Apple and Microsoft devices - apps. Interestingly enough, today is the 10 year anniversary of Apple's App Store and it is robust with every service catering to it with their own apps. There is every expectation that if you want to find the mobile app for a service it is going to be available.

In the Microsoft Store on Windows 10, this is not the case. Until more companies build out their services as Progressive Web Applications (PWAs), it will continue to come up short when you go searching for certain apps and services.

One app area where both platforms will be well supported is Microsoft apps and services. The full Office 365 suite of software is available in both the App Store and Microsoft Store. This includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, and OneDrive. You will also find Cortana, Skype, Yammer, Microsoft Teams for a total lineup of almost 70 apps available for iPad. The vast majority of those services are available in Windows 10 through the browser.

So all of this might boil down to just one consideration - your current ecosystem investment.

Although there is a lot of crossover and sync between all of these apps and services, ultimately you are likely to pick between the iPad and Surface Go based on what you are already using. There is value in the productivity that results from a certain level of comfort and familiarity with your hardware. Making a choice using this as a key factor is just fine because it will also likely keep your end users happy and that in turn results in proficiency and productivity.

Over the course of Microsoft's Surface hardware line, they have always tried to build products which addressed areas in the device market that did not typically see premium hardware in these convertible form factors. It has proven successful as Surface is a billion dollar business for Microsoft.

Prior to Surface, OEM hardware was built out of plastic which resulted in products that were flimsy and felt cheap. These days we routinely see innovative form factors and well built, solid devices hitting the market and taking advantage of features in Windows 10 like touch, inking, and security. Microsoft once said part of their goal with Surface was to be a North Star for device manufacturers and that is exactly what we are seeing. 

Surface Go is the next step in this evolution of the Surface brand and the PC market. Right now there are no companies building good 10-inch tablets that also incorporate touch and inking in their setups. I suspect as Surface Go steps into this void, we will see that shift just like we did with the premium device market.

Along the way ownership of the Surface brand is going to grow with this mid-level device and those kinds of purchases, as long as it is a satisfying experience, will lead to upgrades within the ecosystem towards more premium Surface devices.

The benefactors of all of this evolution and improvement will be businesses and organizations looking to increase their hardware return on investment. By providing their frontline workers with hardware that will help them be more productive in the long run they will see just those kind of results.

TAGS: Windows 10
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