Microsoft debuted a new product in its Surface tablet line, marking the end of the line for its lacklustre Windows RT platform.
The new tablet, Surface 3, is a lower-tier sibling to the company’s Surface Pro 3, but “runs full Windows, including desktop applications”. Previous non “pro”-branded devices have used Windows RT, a stripped-down version of the platform designed for lower-power processors, but without full Windows application capabilities.
The entry pricing for Surface 3 – $499 – also brings it more in line with Apple’s iPad line. And while the Windows RT devices have suffered from a limited app ecosystem in comparison with the tablet market leader, the ability to support Windows applications is a significant step in addressing this.
Microsoft’s pricing policies also raised some eyebrows: the $499 US price compares with £419 in the UK (closer to $620) and €599 in other European markets ($640), which is unlikely to find it many friends.
Unsurprisingly, the company has made much of Surface 3 as a laptop replacement, productivity tool (albeit one that at $499 comes without a keyboard, or the Surface stylus). It has a 10.8-inch screen, and when compared to the 12-inch Surface Pro 3 it “is slightly smaller and it feels great when you’re using it as a tablet”.
It has front (3.5MP) and rear (8MP) cameras with 1080p video capture support. It has a 10-hour battery life (based on video playback), and includes a three-position kickstand.
Surface 3 runs 64-bit Windows 8.1, and will be available with Windows Pro for business customers. It can also be upgraded to Windows 10.
The device will also be available with LTE mobile broadband support.
Microsoft is taking pre-orders for the device now, through its own stores and “select retailers” in a number of markets. It will be on sale from 5 May, with availability in 26 markets by 7 May.