Editor’s Note: This story has been updated as of Nov. 2 to add details of a new 4GB RAM/128GB storage option.

For all of Microsoft’s claims about mobility, the Microsoft Surface lineup of Windows tablets really haven’t been all that portable. The smaller, cheaper, lighter Surface Go announced Tuesday morning hopes to change all that, with a new 10-inch spin on the traditional Surface tablet.

No, this isn’t the Surface Mini, or the rumored two-screen device, “Andromeda.” The Surface Go is most reminiscent of the Microsoft Surface 3, 2015’s quirky $499 Atom-powered tablet that provided a cheaper alternative to the pricey Surface line. The Surface Go dives even lower—prices start at just $399 for a bare-bones model with 4GB of memory and 64GB of storage when it ships on August 2. A keyboard will be sold separately, beginning at $99, and the optional Surface Pen will cost $99 as well.

As the name suggests, Microsoft designed the Surface Go for people in motion: the sales exec who makes a quick edit or two to a presentation while at her daughter’s soccer practice, for example. A Wi-Fi-only model will ship first, followed an LTE model later in 2018. According to a Microsoft spokesman, the difference between the Surface Go and a device like the Surface Pro (2017) is a matter of degrees: of price, performance, and screen size.

It’s also a matter of operating system and processor. Microsoft will pre-load each Surface Go with Windows 10 S, specifically Windows 10 Home in S Mode—it’s assumed that you’ll be able to upgrade out of S mode, if you wish. A commercial variant will ship with Windows 10 Pro. The Surface Go is powered by a Pentium 4415Y “Gold” chip, the very bottom of Intel’s 7th-generation (Kaby Lake) family of Core processors.

What this means: The Surface Go enters a tablet space whose most popular players include the Android-based 9.7-inch Galaxy Tab S3 for a lofty $599 and the far more affordable Amazon Fire HD 10 for a mere $150, as well as, of course, the dominant Apple iPad, which starts at $329. It appears that Microsoft is shooting for somewhere in the middle: a price point low enough to broaden the Surface user base, and a feature set that includes a stylus and keyboard to keep up with the Samsung and Apple competition (The Fire HD 10 has neither). 

surface go edu  ecosystem from microsoft Microsoft

Microsoft’s Surface Go ecosystem: the Surface Go, the updated Surface Pen, and the Surface Mobile Mouse.

A Windows tablet for consumers

There’s a big question at the heart of this, though: Have Windows users been clamoring for a basic Windows tablet? The Surface Go does seem to be Microsoft’s answer to criticism that the Surface lineup has been just too expensive. 

The specs that follow describe a small, modestly equipped tablet that no one will mistake for a Surface Pro—small enough to fit on an airplane tray table with the seat in front reclined, Microsoft says. It seems to have enough equipment to handle Windows 10 S, at least. Remember that you’ll be limited to using apps from the Microsoft Store, and browsing with Microsoft Edge. 



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