Microsoft Is Planning An iPad Killer

Microsoft Is Planning An iPad Killer
Image: iStock

The Microsoft Surface has been a massive success. Although it might not have the biggest sales volumes, it defined the desktop-tablet computer product category and put the company on the map as a maker of premium hardware. But, at the same time, Apple’s iPad has remained the leader in the 9-inch tablet space. That’s set to change with a smaller, low cost Surface expected later this year.

A Bloomberg report says Microsoft will be making a US$400 tablet that will look similar to the iPad with a 10-inch display and rounded corners. Unlike the current Surface portables, it will have USB-C ports for external connectivity and charging. It’s expected to run on Intel silicon.

One of the barometers I use to understand what devices people are using is to observe what devices people are using on planes and in airport lounges. In those places, I see a lot of Surface Pro devices and other similar tablets. That’s a big shift from a couple of years ago when I’d see a lot more Macs.

What I don’t see are a lot of people using iPads for work or business – Microsoft’s sweet sport when it comes to computer hardware. Similarly, my observations in schools, particularly secondary and beyond, is that iPads are no longer the flavour of the month with Surface Pro and similar devices also favoured.

That begs the question – why would Microsoft bother? Perhaps, given they have done all the hard technical work in designing the larger Surface Pro, they figure the effort to add another option to their range is a relatively low cost and low risk. It will likely run one of the current versions of Windows 10 so there’s so special software to develop and the company has their hardware supply chain in order.

So, it looks like a relatively easy addition for the company to add and it will give them another entry point by engaging customers at a lower price point.

My feeling is this is part of a longer-term strategy to create life-long customers. If they can get customers using and liking their products earlier by offering a low cost device that kids can get their hands on then it potentially creates a lifelong association.


  • I totally agree with your airport observations. Literally nobody is doing work on an iPad. In fact, the only time I see iPads is in the hands of children, generally streaming a kids show.

    Let’s hope this isn’t another Surface RT…Microsoft’s previous iPad killer 😉

    • I actually bought a Surface RT and it was a great piece of hardware.

      It’s a shame that the software side of things didnt hold up its end of the bargain though

      • I had one as well. It had the potential to be a great device but suffered from the same fate as many products did in the Ballmer years. If it wasn’t instantly successful it was dumped.

        • I purchased a Surface RT, it was great for what I wanted it for and still use it to this day but EVERYONE kept comparing it to full version of Windows 8 pro and it was never meant to be that. Bad press helped kill it off early

      • Don’t get be wrong. I bought one too, largely because it was super cheap due to the crazy education discount. $279 including touch cover, which had an RRP of $679!

        The tragically neutered Windows RT and an almost complete lack of support killed the device.

        Fingers crossed MS has learned its lesson.

  • Yawn. Another X vs X story. Microsoft have released how many iPad, iPod, iPhone, iMac ‘killers’ over the years and none of them have lasted. Zune (gone), Windows phone (gone), Windows touchscreen (gone). The Surface Pro is the only one I thought would actually make it and I’ve yet to see anyone using one ‘outside’ of a shop that sells them, or a product placement on a TV show. I see iPads/iPhones all over the place. Admittedly by children and students – and yet isn’t that the point? These students become use to how iPads/iPhones/iMacs/Macbook laptops work that they would rather use those instead of trying to learn and understand the ‘Microsoft’ way of doing business.

    • We clearly move in different circles. During the four years I spent running a school IT department, which were during the time the iPad was super popular, it struggled to get a foothold in those environments. And enterprises see them as a “toy” but rarely as a “serious” computing device.

      • I worked in IT for the QLD several years ago (before the Surface became a real thing – it was a rumour while I was still there). We’d recommend Intel devices + windows all the time. There were a few people requesting iPhones and iPads, but they were usually at Director or Minister level and they weren’t really using them for work (not the same way as typical workers do anyway).

        From talking with friends still in the government there’s been more of a push towards Surface the last couple years since it integrates much more easily for the IT departments than Apple or Android. Not sure about schools.

        I think MS needs to introduce cheaper tablets because the Surface just flat out doesn’t compete with the hundreds of different Android tablets (I think they’re more competition than an iPad for MS). For lots of people (like me) it’s a price/flexibility issue. A genuine windows tablet at a reasonable price would nail that.

  • As you say different circles because I have a friend who works in an enterprise and has a team of around 5000 and his superiors told him that his division was to be all issued with iPads and iPhones to replace their windows phones. So they don’t see them as a toy. I’m just over the term iPad killer or this product will destroy this product. Why can’t they just be part of the ecosystem.

  • This is probably more of a reaction to the rise of Chromebooks and in particular their dominance in the education market. Especially since Google seem to be tablet-ifying ChromeOS to get even more market share.

  • Like Surface RT I’m sure the device will be great. But I can’t see them getting this to take off with kids starting a life-long experience – same story they had with Mobile/Phone, there’s just no developer support for education/entertainment apps in the Windows Store.

    • Yes but what about gaming continuity between Xbox and a Surface tablet – that could be a good thing. When it comes to educational apps – I understand the Windows Store is a bit of a wasteland but the internet is full of useful stuff and, what I’ve seen in schools, teachers will prefer a web-based tool or resource over an app as it’s more accessible.

  • Would be definitely interested in this. Ive never wanted an ipad because its just a big iphone to me and i already have an iphone. Same goes with Droid tablets

    I want a tablet with a full windows experience so i can install actual programs and not lightweight apps. if its less than $500 ill definitely be interested.

  • “it defined the desktop-tablet computer product category”

    Defining an irrelevant category isn’t that important in the scheme of things.

  • I’ve had a full Windows tablet for four years now. It’s a Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 currently running Windows 10 version 1803. It has a 10″ full HD screen, Dolby sound and a nice keyboard cover. It lasts 10 or more hours and while it’s certainly not the fastest device around it’s fast enough not to drive me crazy. It cost me $550 and I rate it as one of the true bargains from my 30+ year IT journey.

    • I had the original Yoga a decade ago and it was quite a lovely device. I got a refurbished Lenovo 14″ Flex from the US a few months ago, and it’s fantastic.

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