Microsoft makes Surface 3 even more affordable for schools

Made for education

Microsoft is making a custom configuration of its new Surface 3 tablet for the education market. Unlike the $499 (£335, AU$645) consumer version, which starts with 64GB of solid state storage, education buyers will have access to a 32GB build of the Surface 3.

Microsoft is only making this configuration available to educational institutions, meaning students and teachers won't be able to order this model through Microsoft or retailers. Pricing for this model is not yet disclosed, but Microsoft is throwing in the 10% discount for educational institutions on top of what is expected to be a lower entry price point than the consumer edition.

Microsoft is promoting its new Surface as a paperless solution for schools given the support for the optional keyboard and an optional Surface Pen for digital inking and drawing.

Back-to-school

Microsoft's announcement comes just as PC manufacturers are announcing their back-to-school lineups. Most recently, HP and Acer have announced their back to school offerings, and many devices from both companies come with hybrid or convertible form factors.

Like the detachable optional keyboard on the Surface 3, many of Acer's and HP's notebook models come with a 360-degree swiveling hinge, allowing the laptop to be converted into tablet, display or tent modes.

Surface Type Cover

The Surface 3 has a three-stage kickstand to adjust the angle of tilt for the tablet's screen, giving it some flexibility, but the main selling point is the light form factor and the option to remove the keyboard to reduce weight and save space when typing is not needed.

Microsoft says that it is also extending its 10% institutional discount to cover the Surface Pen and Type Cover.

Surface Pro 3

The 10.8-inch Surface 3 is considered the entry level model to Microsoft's Surface computing line. The device ships with an Intel Atom processor, the first for the series as Microsoft transitions away from the ARM CPU, giving it access to Windows 8.1, apps and legacy Win32 programs.

More advanced users can move up to the more advanced Surface Pro 3, which ships with a larger 12-inch display, and options for a more powerful Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 processors. The Surface Pro 3 also comes with more storage as well, but its higher $799 (£535, AU$1,030) starting cost may make the Pro model more geared for individual purchases as it may fall outside of the reach of school budgets.

Surface Pen

To use either the Surface 3 or Surface Pro 3 as a laptop, users will also need to purchase a $130 (£90, AU$170) Type Cover. The $50 (£35, AU$65) Surface Pen is an optional accessory on the less expensive Surface 3, but comes included in the price of the Surface Pro 3.