Microsoft to launch smaller, low-priced Surface devices

The Microsoft new tablets are expected to be about 20% lighter than the high-end models but will have around four hours fewer of battery life

Microsoft to launch smaller, low-priced Surface devices

Microsoft is reportedly planning to release a line of cheaper Surface tablets that will allow it to compete more effectively with Apple's iPads.

Microsoft has tried this before. So if Microsoft makes and sells a low-priced Surface tablet powered by Windows 10, then the manufacturers would have the confidence to invest in tablets powered by Windows 10. At the time, it was priced starting at $499. After the tablets didn't resonate with consumers and product reviewers, Microsoft pivoted to the more-expensive Surface Pro, a line which has gained steam and likely contributed to demand for a pro-oriented iPad, which Apple launched in 2015.

According to a report from Bloomberg, the new 10-inch Surface tablets will feature rounded corners similar those found on Apple's iPads, and they'll also be the second Surface devices to come with a USB-C port following the Surface Book 2 previous year. According to the report, the new Surfaces should start at around $400 without accessories like a keyboard, which is $99 cheaper than the 2015 Surface 3. Needless to say, it will be a good addition to the large portfolio of Surface devices and it would be the most affordable Surface-branded device with Windows 10. The smaller size means that these models will have smaller battery, and Bloomberg expects a four hours difference compared to the Surface Pro.

Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) will supply the processor and graphics chips, according to Bloomberg sources. Microsoft's Surface hardware business had sales of $4.4B in the same period. The $329 iPad has helped prop up iPad sales significantly since it was introduced past year. Revenue rose 32 percent in the most recent quarter, indicating new interest in Microsoft's hardware.

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Apple sold about 44 million iPads that generated nearly $20 billion in revenue during the past four quarters.

I asked Microsoft for comment on the low-end Surface hardware rumors.

In March, Apple launched a new iPad model for $329 geared toward education users.

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