After last week's earnings report, where it was revealed that Surface sales were falling but that revenues were stable for Microsoft as people were buying more expensive devices, the company has revealed a new processor for the Surface Laptop. The Intel Core m3 powered model trims about 20% from the price of the previously entry-level Core i5-powered model.
The new model is only available in the US at the moment, according to Windows Central. It still boasts a sensational 2256 by 1505 display but a meagre 4GB of memory and a paltry 128GB SSD for storage, making it only suitable for modest workloads.
The spec is similar to the Core m3 version of the Surface Pro which is the same price. However, the Surface Pro price is a a bit of cheat as you'll need to spring for a keyboard and pen if you want a true laptop-like experience.
These sorts of moves send an interesting message. On one hand, it was probably a relatively trivial change for Microsoft's engineers to make to accomodate the lower-cost CPU. But it also highlights how numbers-driven the Redmond computing powerhouse remains. The last quarter's figures highlight how profits don't always follow higher sales volumes. Rather, it's about margins.
And the market seems to have spoken when it comes to buying lower-cost devices - it seems to prefer going to other Microsoft OEMs for inexpensive systems.
The Surface Pro has been a very important device for the PC industry. It proved it was possible to make a great device that could do the same heavy lifting as a traditional laptop but double up as a great tablet with a touchscreen and pen input. And that created an entirely new market segment.
I'd prefer to see Microsoft create more innovative computing experiences rather than try and scoop up folks looking for inexpensive and low-powered "me too" devices.