Panned as a Surface 2 successor, Microsoft is said to be prepping a refresh of its more inexpensive Surface tablet line for a launch as early as next month at Build 2015. A report suggests that Microsoft may be shifting away from an ARM-based processor to a low-powered Intel CPU.
Given the change to Intel's x86 silicon, the device, if reports are accurate, will be running Microsoft's full Windows 8.1 operating system rather than Windows RT. This means that we can expect an upgrade path to Windows 10 when Microsoft launches the operating system this summer.
"WinBeta has learned that Microsoft is planning to launch a successor to the Surface 2 soon, however it won't be a Windows RT based device," the publication reported. "The device will be fanless and sport a low spec'd CPU, being either an Intel Atom or Intel Core M based processor (we're not too sure which one they've opted for just yet), meaning it will run a full-version of Windows."
A separate report from Windows Central claims that the new Surface will likely launch with an Intel Atom Cherry Trail processor.
It's unclear if Microsoft will be branding this tablet under the Surface Pro line, which currently is based on a more powerful Intel Core i processor, or under the Surface line. WinBeta says that the device will not have the Surface Pro branding, despite claims that the tablet will run the full version of Windows 8.1.
The slate is expected to be announced at around the time of Build at the end of April, and the new Surface is expected to launch soon after.
Pricing information is not yet known at this time. An Atom-powered Surface could fill the $449 (£301, AU$572) price point left open when Microsoft discontinued the Surface 2.
For comparison, the 10.1-inch Asus Transformer Book T100 with a quad-core Atom processor costs $329 (£221, AU$419) and the Atom-powered Dell Venue 11 Pro costs $449 (£301, AU$572), while the Dell Venue 11 Pro with an Intel Core M is more expensive, starting at $749 (£503, AU$955).
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