Microsoft Corp. is planning to release a line of lower-cost Surface tablets as soon as the second half of 2018, seeking a hit in a market for cheaper devices that Apple Inc. dominates with the iPad, according to people familiar with the matter.
Microsoft has tried this before. The software giant kicked off its consumer-oriented hardware push in 2012 with the launch of the original Surface RT. 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.
The Surface RT was the first generation Surface and was hamstrung by performance issues. If Microsoft truly is going to build something to rival the 2018 education iPad and its $329 list price, performance has to be better than their first kick at the can.
I own and regularly use the $329 iPad. It is fast, I’ve never noticed a bit of lag with the Apple Pencil, and the screen is excellent. There’s nothing about the $329 iPad that says budget to me. If Microsoft is going to play at that level, they have to offer a similar experience.