Microsoft has not found a lot of success with its tablet business, but in 2014 we heard it tripled sales with the Surface Pro 3. Now it is launching the Surface 3, the cheaper brother, finally running Windows 8.1 instead of RT.
When the Surface first launched, it came with a new version of Windows 8, called RT. Instead of fully fledged desktop Windows, RT offered part desktop, part mobile in a tablet form factor, something nobody seemed to like.
Windows RT was shunned by the press and customers worldwide, selling only 900,000 units out of an inventory of over three million. Microsoft lost millions in unsold inventory and advertising, forcing the company to downsize its tablet plans for a few years.
After three years, Microsoft has finally removed Windows RT. The Surface 3 runs Windows 8.1 and will get the free update to Windows 10 once it arrives this summer.
It was a quiet launch by Microsoft, most likely due to the low popularity of the Surface tablet. It features the same design but with new dimensions, moving from a 10.6-inch to a full HD 10.8 display. That brings with it some issues, most importantly that every attachable keyboard has now been branded obsolete. The change also makes aspect ratio to 3:2, which means it is easier to hold in portrait.
Internally, the Surface 3 runs on an Intel Atom chipset, 2GB or 4GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of SSD storage. Microsoft will offer the tablet at two price points: $499 and $599. There will also be an LTE option available for an extra $100, but Microsoft will launch that later in the year.
Microsoft is playing the tablet market in a more secluded fashion from its flashy Times Square launch three years ago. This might work out, especially with the downturn in iPad sales throughout 2014.