What do we want to see on the Surface 3? Many of the qualities we would expect from a new Surface tablet - namely slimmer dimensions, a lighter chassis and longer battery life - arrived on Microsoft's capable Surface Pro 3, making it a little harder for any potential new tablet to stand out from the crowd.

Until recently, details of a successor to the Surface 2 have been thin on the ground. The quiet was shattered by a DigiTimes report that claims a new 10.6-inch Surface is gearing up to enter production in August ahead of an October release.

According to that report, the new device will be thinner and lighter than the 12-inch Surface Pro 3 and will possess more sales and performance clout than competing devices released in 2014.

The question is: being a Surface device, will it once again run Microsoft's much-maligned Windows RT 8.1, or could it be the first to feature full-fat Windows 8.1? And with Microsoft having axed the Surface Mini, is a smaller Surface out of the question?

As we ponder the possibilities, here are some of the features we would like to see on the Surface 3.

A pixel-packing, roomy display

Lenovo ThinkPad 8
Lenovo's sharp-screened ThinkPad 8

The Surface Pro 3's display made the switch from the Surface Pro 2's 16:9 aspect ratio to 3:2, which did wonders for productivity by ramping up screen real-estate. For that reason, whatever size the Surface 3 arrives in, we hope it follows suit.

A high-resolution display would only sweeten the deal. The Surface Pro 3's 216-ppi display dazzles, and even though you could say that 16:9 is the preferred option for viewing movies, playing games and viewing other multimedia, some find 3:2 is better suited for handling both tablet and desktop-oriented tasks.

Should the Surface 3 feature a display smaller than nine inches, it would have the opportunity to join a very short list of small Windows 8.1 tablets with high-pixel-density displays. Lenovo's ThinkPad 8 (with a display resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels) stands out for being the only one, with most 8-inch slates featuring a comparatively lacklustre 1200 x 800 pixel-resolution.

Full-fat Windows 8

8-inch tablet
Windows 8.1 with Bing could make an appearance

Windows RT's concept was sound: as an alternative to full Windows 8, it would be driven by touch-sensitive Windows 8 apps (Office aside) and run on ARM-based hardware, allowing devices to be thinner and cheaper while offering longer battery life.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, RT's inability to run legacy Windows programs and confusion around the platform have seen it shunned by many. Moreover, thinner, lighter and cheaper Intel-powered devices running full-fat Windows 8.1 have arrived on the scene toting near all-day battery life, meaning that it simply doesn't make sense for anybody to put up with Windows RT's limitations any more.

Should the Surface 3 turn out to be nine inches or under, it's likely that Microsoft will offer it with Windows 8.1 with Bing, a tailored version of full-fat Windows 8.1 that's being offered to its hardware partners at a reduced cost. Which brings us onto...

Specs to suit a wallet-friendly price point

Intel Atom
Up and Atom

Although the entry-level Surface Pro 3 comes in at a lower price point than previous Surface Pro devices, it's still seen as a premium device, topping out at $1,949 for the Core i7 model with 8GB and a 512GB SSD.

Microsoft's Surface RT-powered tablets have always come in at a lower price point than those in its Pro range, and we're hoping that, with the introduction of Windows 8.1 with Bing, the Surface 3 will be the first to feature Windows 8.1 while remaining affordable. As such, we reckon it'll have to pack an Intel Atom processor to keep the costs down while providing enough beef to run both Windows 8 apps and legacy desktop programs without a wheeze.

So, how cheap is cheap? We'd like to see the Surface 3 come in at under £200 (around US$337, or AU$361) to differentiate from the Surface Pro 3 and give it a real chance in the market.