Microsoft is working on a Surface device, a new l0w-end tablet that will succeed the discontinued Surface 2 and compete more directly against Apple’s iPad, reports WinBeta.
But this tablet fixes a big problem with the earlier versions: it will run the full version of Microsoft’s latest operating system, which means it will run any Windows software that runs on Windows 7, Windows 8 and, eventually Windows 10, WinBeta says.
That’s because the new tablet is ditching the low-power ARM-based processor (which are in the the iPad and most Android tablets), and the special-purpose version of Windows created for that platform, known as Windows RT. That version of Windows couldn’t run traditional Windows apps, which limited how useful those earlier tablets were.
Microsoft is going back to its old pal Intel for l0w-power processors using either an Intel ATOM or Intel Core M (WinBeta wasn’t sure.)
The Surface 2 (and the RT before that) cost less than the Surface Pro line, which was more like a convertible laptop, but their lack of software was a problem. In 2013, Microsoft had to write down more than $US900 million in unsold inventory, mostly because of poor sales of the original Surface RT. Microsoft stopped selling the low end tablets and said that existing Surface 2 tablets would not be upgradeable to Windows 10.
That left Microsoft without an affordable tablet in the Surface family. The low-end Surface models started at under $US500; the Surface Pro line starts around $US800.
The new device is expected to be announced at Microsoft’s big developer’s conference, Build, in San Francisco next month.
Interestingly, Windows on ARM isn’t completely dead as a concept. Last month, Microsoft made a smart move and, for the first time, created a version of Windows for the little $US35 Raspberry Pi PC, a favourite with the “maker” crowd, those people who tinker with electronics to build fun and crazy stuff. These people have turned the Internet of Things (IoT) into a hobby.
That version of Windows 10 could potentially be used to run on other tiny devices and give Microsoft game in the whole new multi-trillion dollar IoT market. The IoT is when everyday objects gets sensors, chips and apps and can join the internet.
And the reason why all of this is important: Microsoft has promised that Windows 10 will work like a single operating system that runs on every device and that apps built for one device will (more or less) run on others.
This is a core part of its strategy to make everyone “love Windows 10,” as CEO Satya Nadella keeps saying. That’s really important after how poorly Windows 8 was received.