Report: Microsoft to build an Intel-powered, non-Pro Surface tablet

Microsoft may be bidding farewell to its ARM-powered Surface tablets along with its Windows RT OS. According to a report published by WinBeta, Microsoft will be complementing the Surface Pro series with another x86-powered tablet running Windows 8.1.

WinBeta says this as-yet-unnamed Surface will be a fanless device powered by an Atom or Core M CPU. The new tablet will also be marketed as a more consumer-oriented product, presumably slotting in beneath the beefier Surface Pro 3. Details are otherwise scarce.

Microsoft's current non-Pro tablet, the Surface 2, is a 10.6" device with a 1080p screen, up to 64GB of storage, and Windows RT. A similar device with a full version of Windows 8.1 (and an upgrade path to Windows 10) could be pretty appealing if the price is right. The Surface 2 currently starts at $449 for a 32GB config.

WinBeta says to expect an official announcement before or at Microsoft's Build conference, which kicks off on April 29. We'll keep our eyes and ears open.

Comments closed
    • VincentHanna
    • 8 years ago

    Its 11 freaking inches, and its a tablet. THAT is what you are getting. A tiny little tablet with not enough storage space that can sit awkwardly on a flat surface.

    • d0g_p00p
    • 8 years ago

    I’ll admit I thought they were DOA based on the price but then I got to play with them and realized why they were priced the way they are.

    I walked out of the Microsoft store the proud owner of a Surface 2 Pro. My Thinkpad x230 has been collecting dust ever since. It’s a fatastic device and with the keyboard cover is a complete laptop replacement.

    • yakapo
    • 8 years ago

    I’d pay $600 for a core m with a 256gb ssd and 8gb of ram. How much does an iPad air 2 with 128gb of storage cost?

    • yakapo
    • 8 years ago

    This is exactly what I’ve been waiting for. I’m typing this on an iPad air that will hopefully be the last ipad I ever purchase. Now that core m CPUs are ultra efficient, it’s the right time to switch. Hopefully the build quality is as good as the surface pro 3 and it is nearly as light as other arm based 10″ tablets.

    • 5150
    • 8 years ago

    This might be the only thing I’ve read from you that made me LOL.

    • cygnus1
    • 8 years ago

    If ARM wanted ARM based Windows devices to be more successful, all they had to do was court software developers. MS has bent over backwards to have the tools there for new Windows apps to run across different ISA’s. The issue is that that really would’ve been helping MS and Intel just as much as, if not more than, ARM. The more RT based software there is, the more devices MS sells. The more RT based software there is, the more Intel CPU’s benefit too. (The software model is designed to be more power efficient).

    • chuckula
    • 8 years ago

    I MADE IT -24 FOR EMPHASIS!

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    The pro isn’t overpriced for what you’re actually getting. It is, however, pricey.

    • Klimax
    • 8 years ago

    Unmarked parodies get this…

    • Klimax
    • 8 years ago

    Windows NT were able to support 4 different ISAs (Alpha, x86, MPIS, and were develop and tested on Intel i860(emulated), PowerPC – and now ARM)

    It was always designed to be ISA neutral. x86 dependent were only Windows 1,2,3x and Windows 9x.

    And don’t forget Windows CE. As for ARM anywhere else then mobile, not a chance – way too weak. Introduce JIT and it is goner before it even started. More likely we will get JIT-like layer for Windows Phone so it can use Atoms too.

    ETA: You got explanation for at least one -1.

    • MarkG509
    • 8 years ago

    I just contributed 1/5th the price of an iPad for my 5yo neice’s birthday present. After that, I’m done with *Pads.

    Edit: Just to be fair, she is learning to read mostly with [b<]very[/b<] carefully chosen letter/word games/apps, animated books, etc., on Mama's iPad, compared to her 7yo brother who went the flash-cards, site-words, read a book/night route. Thinking back, I'd say it's a dead-heat, though with less total effort, though more expense, on parent's/uncle's part for her.

    • VincentHanna
    • 8 years ago

    The surface pro is a good device, but it’s way overpriced.

    I’m all for MSFT making a few concessions, if it means a Surface tablet that can compete with the kindle fire, Google’s nexus and the Stab which all hang out in the same space with comparable performance for half the price of the surface. Conversely, actual laptops which offer better utility and performance that the surface does, are also available for the same price or slightly more/less when compared directly to the surface part for part, feature for feature.

    $449 though is still pretty expensive, comparatively.

    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    Really interesting how the ISA/OS wars are playing out. Historically, Windows has been tied to x86 (for the most part, anyway) and Android and its apps run on ARM. Now that Google and Intel made Android and its apps run on x86, that practically opens the door for Intel to invade ARM’s turf. Thing is, AFAIK ARM couldn’t do the same thing and make Windows [u<]and[/u<] its native apps work on its chips, so people aren't keen on buying WinRT devices. Long term, if ARM doesn't do something drastic to negate this shortcoming, they could see Intel make further advances in mobile. Is it possible for ARM and would Microsoft be willing to do something like what Google and Intel did and employ some sort of JIT compiler like ART that'll allow ARM chips to run existing x86 apps? Haven't been following ART and Delvik so I'm not sure about what Google and Intel did here. Edit - donwthumbs? I'd appreciate it if people would clarify or correct some of my points here instead of just donwthumbing without giving any reasons.

    • Andrew Lauritzen
    • 8 years ago

    The big problem with Qi is the positioning requirements – those are a major issue for larger devices like the SP3. A4WP is much more forgiving and as demonstrated can easy charge stuff through several inches of table, etc.

    That said I don’t really care which tech they go with, I just want wireless charging 🙂 Plugging stuff in is for suckers!

    • LoneWolf15
    • 8 years ago

    If true, this is a good thing.

    While I’m not a huge Surface fan, I had the Surface Pro at my last job and didn’t think it was bad.

    I got a Surface RT to play with where I am now, because they had a couple. Started to play with it, went, “I need a VPN client for this for our firewalls….oh. Nevermind.”

    • albundy
    • 8 years ago

    lol, well played and well deserved +1!

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    it’s too far. come closer.

    • End User
    • 8 years ago

    Pop on by. We can read the new Steve Jobs biography by the fire.

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    i want a piece of the eu action.

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    I don’t need a safe word. i’m rough.

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    And hopefully with stylus support!
    Not having a proper stylus on a tablet is like WTF. it’s like only having one port on a computer. DUMB.

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    While a4wp is a slightly different take on essentially the same tech, i’m not sure it’ll beat qi that easily. Qi has support already for 120w, and has demo’d 1kw. Microsoft already has a TON of Qi devices, and realistically, probably has more devices than anyone else using qi. I don’t think a4wp will replace qi that easily, though i know there is work being done on uniting the two standards so one mat does both. we’ll have to see how it plays out, but i think Microsoft will stick with qi for the short term.

    I also want the wigig display and docking stuff. I imagine the wifi chip will be similar to the sp3’s though.

    • NTMBK
    • 8 years ago

    Meh, I think the lackluster sales of every single Windows RT tablet was the nail in the coffin.

    Apparently 7″ and smaller Windows 10 tablets won’t run the desktop or legacy apps at all (no more special desktop just for Office) and will basically be the same as Windows Phone, so I’d still expect to see ARM in a few of them. But 8″ and up will be owned by x86.

    • NTMBK
    • 8 years ago

    I’d expect a “non-Pro” Surface 3 to be the same size as the Surface 2, even if they use x86 chips. Bay Trail, Cherry Trail or Nolan will all run in the same thermal envelope as a Tegra 4.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 8 years ago

    So a moderate price but decent quality 9-10″ full Windows tablet has been interestly to me for a while, but there hasn’t been anything that hits all the right points. Maybe MS can do it right.

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    I don’t know what that means.

    • End User
    • 8 years ago

    So simple the market went somewhere else.

    • End User
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]and loved by Surface RT before it[/quote<] Watch out. ssk may want a piece of that action.

    • albundy
    • 8 years ago

    well…mom in name only. i think you would really enjoy both of my dads. things can get pretty rough with them, so make sure you have a safe word.

    • FightingScallion
    • 8 years ago

    Count me as probably one of the few (maybe 3 of us) who actually are saddened by this. I love my Surface 2 and loved by Surface RT before it. For the things that I use a tablet for, RT was not just “good enough” but “imperceptibly different from ‘full Windows’.”

    I would have liked a little more speed, so I was hoping for a newer ARM chip (maybe one of the Zen chips?) at some point, but it really does what I ask quite acceptably. The Surface Pro 3 is fantastic, but probably too big for what I want from it.

    Alas…the frantic cries of “but it can’t do!!!” drowned out the reality of “but you never do that…” And, with a little creativity, you could sometimes even make it do those things.

    • Andrew Lauritzen
    • 8 years ago

    > I doubt wireless charging makes it. it’s still too slow. I love it on my lumia icon, but that battery is a lot smaller

    I’m talking about the new A4WP resonance charging stuff that works up to 50W (should be pleeeenty for the SP3). Totally different than the current inductive Qi charging.

    Intel has demo’d it on a Skylake reference design so “this year” is definitely feasible for this stuff depending on when you expect a SP4.

    > Wigig is also not likely, i think AC will be there again this year.

    To be clear I don’t so much care about the 802.11 wireless networking 60/5/2.4 implementation. I just want the wireless display and docking stuff which is also part of the Skylake reference design.

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    at your moms house, son. I’ll be home later tonight.
    <3

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    windows 10 for arm is windows mobile 10/wp/windows 10 for tablets. They’re just calling all of them windows 10, but it’s the same OS as windows phone and is permitted on tablets up to 8 inches (iirc)

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    pure speculation, but I’m pretty good when it comes to microsoft. I talk to a lot of guys.
    I anticipate something more powerful than core m as well. They’ll continue to offer an i7, but I’d expect the bulk to be in the m to i5 range as they are now.
    I doubt wireless charging makes it. it’s still too slow. I love it on my lumia icon, but that battery is a lot smaller, never mind charging an i7 system while it’s running (though i realize you generally have to be closer than most use cases would be for working on it). i don’t think it’s feasible at this stage, though i agree, it would be nice. .

    Wigig is also not likely, i think AC will be there again this year. I think usb 3.1 charging is the most likely situation, and i [i<] worry [/i<] they'll make the same stupid, moronic, really really dumb, decision the air's made and only have one port. i'd LIKE for them to have 2 at the minimum. one to charge, and one for other devices.

    • Andrew Lauritzen
    • 8 years ago

    Any sources or just guesses curiously?

    I’d be surprised if they go entirely to core M or something and don’t provide a 15W option, but we’ll see. Certainly I’d consider a lighter, fanless option for my purposes assuming battery life is good, but part of the sell here is that they really can replace laptops across the board.

    Not doing wireless charging would really be a mistake IMHO, especially if they pull a Macbook and go to USB 3.1 charging. Losing the magnetic connector is a real step back no matter what Apple will try and tell you, but I’d happily lose it for completely wireless charging 🙂

    WiGig is not a requirement per se, but it’s a hell of a nice option for businesses and docking that finally legitimately does let you ditch your desktop, and not have to change docks every time you get a new machine. It’s also a finally compelling wireless display option that just works properly, unlike all of the attempts thus far.

    Having both of these means I’m fine with one USB port too. I definitely do not want them to pull a Macbook on ports without providing compelling wireless options.

    But indeed we’ll see 🙂 Just that’s my wish list!

    • Xenolith
    • 8 years ago

    There will be a Windows 10 version for ARM chips. Maybe the Windows RT branding will go away, but not ARM support.

    • Ninjitsu
    • 8 years ago

    Yeah, though I think Core M was the real nail in the coffin for ARM Windows tablets, at least on a psychological level. Cherry Trail will just be the barricade that shuts ARM out of Windows completely, except for IoT and WP maybe.

    • Ninjitsu
    • 8 years ago

    Wake me up when they make a solar-powered surface.

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<] If they add 60Ghz WiGig docking/wireless display and wireless charging it'll be an even more killer device! [/quote<] they're not. it'll have usb 3.1, new low power cpu's, i'd expect up to 16gb ram, and again, an improved keyboard. I think we'll see subtle, but not totally different kickstand, and perhaps some changes to make it more in line with the concept for final windows 10.

    • Andrew Lauritzen
    • 8 years ago

    Yes I have the first generation V8P. It’s still probably the best 8 inch tablet that I own to be honest, and I have a lot of tablets via work.

    The SP3 though is in a different league. It’s obviously a different (and complementary) product category but for me it has replaced my laptop entirely (I use desktops primarily for work), totally replaced all portable video stuff (netflix, etc) and eaten a large chunk of what I used to do on tablet as well. It’s just a really nice device that can do a huge amount of stuff.

    It’s well worth the cost in my opinion, although at this point I might be tempted to wait for a SP4. If they add 60Ghz WiGig docking/wireless display and wireless charging it’ll be an even more killer device!

    • Andrew Lauritzen
    • 8 years ago

    Hmm no I don’t have a silver one like that. One of the big issues with the last one I have (in addition to hover problems) was that the battery would just drain like crazy even when not in use – and those silly AAAA batteries are not cheap. That one claims a year of “typical” use so maybe they really did do some improvements.

    I’m glad to hear it is improved though – maybe I’ll give it another try at some point. That said, I pretty much use my SP3 now for almost everything with the V8P being mostly just for reading. OneNote is a main use case of the stylus as well so I’m sort of wary if there are issues there.

    Thanks for the info though, good to hear improvements are being made!

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    weird onenote issues. It’s awesome on my surface pro 2, and i haven’t noticed any bugginess.

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    The question would be whether this tablet runs win 10 for phones/small tablets or win 10 for large tablets/desktops. If it’s x86 and windows, chances are good you’d be technically able to install either if you don’t like the one it comes with.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 8 years ago

    My belief is that consumers have rejected ARM-based Windows tablets entirely. Although it seems like Mullins would have been a fine choice, too…

    • albundy
    • 8 years ago

    i know, right? but where do you put things down?

    • dragontamer5788
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]I think I have one of each of those generation styluses (to Dell's credit, they kept sending out free replacements) and it has definitely improved a lot, but it's still not comparable with a wacom or the SP3 stylus (which surprisingly is totally in the same league as wacom!).[/quote<] Do you have generation 4? I personally had to purchase a Gen4 stylus from them. [url<]http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?sku=750-AAGN[/url<] It has a different SKU number and a different versioning all together. Its a [b<]substantial[/b<] improvement over the older "black" stylus. When its working, IMO it is in the same league as the Wacom / SP3 now... although One Note remains buggy.

    • dragontamer5788
    • 8 years ago

    Dell Venue 11 Pro is the 11-incher.

    I personally prefer the smaller 8-inch tablet, so whatever floats your boat. The 11-incher from Dell is more powerful with a CoreM, and uses the same stylus as the Dell Venue 8.

    EDIT: 8-inches can be comfortably held in one hand while writing with the other. The 11-incher needs a table or something to rest against. Its just not as comfortable for one-handed holding + one-handed writing. So it really is a shame that Dell isn’t making 2GB Venue 8 Pros anymore. You might find one refurbished though, and I’d take the older 2GB model over the newer ones.

    • llisandro
    • 8 years ago

    You both are talking about the older version of the tablet, right? I’m not seeing any 2GB versions or stylus mentioned in the “Venue 8 Pro 3000 Series,” or any of the older versions of the tablet on their site. Dell only lists compatibility with the 10 pro with their active stylus, so my reading was that they dropped active stylus support in their new 8-inchers.

    I agree with punkUser, at 8 inches, I’d probably go for the Asus Note 8 with a Wacom stylus, over one that requires battery, but what I really want is a 10-11″ tablet with stylus, so I can write in landscape mode- i find writing in portrait on my 10″ tablet a bit cramped, so I think SP3 is the best choice, but I couldn’t justify its price, as I don’t need its horsepower, so a cheaper Core M version would be perfect for me. But I really want a 10-11″, and I assume this will be an 8-incher anyway, so maybe I should just shut up and buy a SP3. :/

    • ozzuneoj
    • 8 years ago

    Hard to believe it took them this long to realize that selling non-x86 “Windows” tablets wasn’t going to work.

    The Wal-Mart in my town recently removed the Surface RT from display and replaced it with another Atom based device that runs full x86 Windows 8.1 for half the price. Those are the devices that people are actually buying, and that actually have benefits over Android\iOS devices.

    When people ask “What applications can I run on this?” and you have to tell them that anything on the Google Play Store, Apple App Store and all of the programs they’ve ever used on “normal” Windows aren’t compatible unless there is a version (that would likely need to be purchased again) on the Windows Store, its hard to then explain to them why they would ever want one.

    Its kind of like spending $449 on a Chromebook…

    • Andrew Lauritzen
    • 8 years ago

    I think I have one of each of those generation styluses (to Dell’s credit, they kept sending out free replacements) and it has definitely improved a lot, but it’s still not comparable with a wacom or the SP3 stylus (which surprisingly is totally in the same league as wacom!). So for a really excellent stylus experience you’re still stuck with either the Asus Memopad – which is kind of a bad tablet compared to the Venue 8 Pro – or the SP3 – which is a different product category.

    Thus I think there’s space for an ~8 inch Surface that runs full windows and uses the SP3 stylus or better. That said, I’m skeptical… I sort of expect Microsoft to restrict smaller devices to “Apps” regardless of what the underlying hardware is capable of going forward :S

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    Surfaces are such garbage. Yawn. Product is DOA.

    WHY DO I HAVE -12. I’M JUST ECHOING WHAT YOU PEOPLE HAVE BEEN SAYING SINCE THEY LAUNCHED.

    • AdamDZ
    • 8 years ago

    I’m growing tired of iPads. If this runs full Windows and costs $500, I may be interested.

    • dragontamer5788
    • 8 years ago

    Dell’s stylus is now in its 4th revision, and is much much better than it used to be. So I’d definitely check out the Dell Venue 8 Pro (with 2GB RAM). The one with 1GB is a bit… weak IMO.

    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    All of a sudden Intel is getting design wins left and right. Contra revenue + Bay Trail?

    • anotherengineer
    • 8 years ago

    Isn’t this what Mullins was supposed to be for? Or does it even exist??

    • llisandro
    • 8 years ago

    If it comes with a stylus, this is an instant buy for me.

    • drfish
    • 8 years ago

    Hooray! Just don’t lower the build quality.

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