Microsoft’s Surface Go Aims to Challenge iPad, Chromebooks

Microsoft is taking a hard run at the iPad’s market dominance. Its latest tablet, the Surface Go, measures 10 inches across and retails for US $399, placing it roughly in the same price stratum as Apple’s touch-screen. Does it stand a chance?

Let’s break down the specs: the “base model” Surface Go is packed with 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage (eMMc), and an Intel Premium Gold processor. That processor, originally introduced in 2017, is designed for the “budget” PC market; eMMc storage is likewise targeted that cheaper devices. Boosting RAM to 8GB and storage to 128GB SSD will cost US $549; throw in the Type Cover keyboard, and the price jumps still further.

The newest iPad, by contrast, comes with two storage options: 32GB and 128GB. It measures 9.7 inches, slightly smaller than the Surface Go. The processor is a custom-built A10 Fusion chip with 64-bit architecture and an embedded M10 co-processor. The basic model is $329; topping out all specs (while keeping the device purely Wi-Fi) raises the price to US $429.

On the mobile productivity front, the Surface Go also faces competition from ultra-cheap Chromebooks and Windows laptops, a selection of which retail for less than the Surface Go with the Type Cover.

Can Surface Go carve out a substantial portion of the “ultra-mobile, less-expensive” market? At this juncture, the iPad seems synonymous with “tablet,” and cheap laptops aren’t going to cede ground anytime soon. Microsoft is betting that the Surface Go’s sleek design and small size, combined with Windows 10, will allow it to carve off some market share, even if it never crowds out any of its competitors.

Microsoft hasn’t had the greatest luck with mobile. Windows Phone, its effort to compete against Google Android and Apple iOS, collapsed. It even redesigned Windows 8 to be “touchscreen-friendly” (with a UX it dubbed “Metro”) only for critics and users to savage that effort. But its latest efforts with Surface-branded laptops seem to have done well enough for the company to continue, and the Surface Go could find its audience.

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