According to WinBeta today, Microsoft is preparing a successor to the Surface 2 and the new unit could be unveiled at BUILD in a few weeks. BUILD attendees are always trying to guess what freebies Microsoft might deliver for the developer's event, so maybe this it.
The Surface tablet history is an interesting one. When the first models rolled out, Microsoft clearly released two distinct designs for two different uses. One for consumers (the non-Pro model) and one for business users (the Pro model). The non-Pro model ran a hindered version of Windows 8 (Windows RT), while the Pro model ran a full version of the operating system. Of course, if you remember, the non-Pro version, Surface RT, didn't do very well, forcing the company to take a massive write-down. Those that still own these things have turned them into glorified digital picture frames because there's no future.
But, still, Microsoft believed it was right in producing two versions of the tablet. Who knows which market segment it obtained data from, but if anything, the company is hardnosed when it comes to following data and statistics. And, this may actually be one of its greatest faults. Stats are great, but it eliminates the human factor, and the human factor was in full swing in this instance because it took three tries before the company finally saw a modicum of success. And, when it did, with the release of the Surface Pro 3, there was no longer a consumer version in tow.
Fast forward to this recent rumor and Microsoft may be intending to dip into the consumer space once again, but this time it will come without one of the bigger mistakes of the past. Here's what WinBeta says will contain:
ATOM or Intel Core M processor
Pre-loaded with Windows 8.1 and upgradeable to Windows 10
So, you can see this new offering might be very much in line with earlier non-Pro models, except for one big difference: it will include a full version of Windows, not a hampered version. This means it will run all the standard applications any other Windows computer runs, and it will be Windows 10 ready. And, if it retains the same form factor as the Surface Pro 3, it should (*should*) work with current accessories like the Surface Dock. It'll be interesting to also hear if Microsoft believes (through its market stats) consumers need digital pens
Knowing the non-Pro Surface history, would you buy one?
I can see a single scenario that would make me consider buying a non-Pro tablet from Microsoft, and that's if the price was right. The lowest model of the Surface Pro 3 (64GB/Intel i3) is still at $799 – this is way too much for any consumer to consider purchasing one. If Microsoft does this, if the rumors turn out to be true, a consumer model has to come in at less than $400 to be successful, otherwise the company runs the same risk as before.
I own and use a Surface Pro 3, and I'm a fan, but each of my family members have the original Surface Pro. How that came to be is a long story, but if Microsoft can produce a Windows 10-ready model that is priced right, I might seriously consider upgrading the family.