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Microsoft Needs a Surface Go as More Than Just an Apple iPad Rival

Microsoft Surface Go Starts Shipping in India: Price, Specifications And More  (photo for representation)

Microsoft Surface Go Starts Shipping in India: Price, Specifications And More (photo for representation)

This is the most affordable Surface branded computing device you can buy right now. However, the answer is a bit more complex than simply finding the perfect ingredients for an “iPad killer”.

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Vishal Mathur

The much-awaited Surface Go from Microsoft is now up for preorders on Amazon.com, after the Microsoft Store. Amazon.com is selling two variants of the Surface Go at the moment. The first is the Surface Go with 4GB RAM and 64GB eMMC storage which is priced at $399 (around Rs27,000). The higher spec variant has 8GB RAM with 128GB SSD storage and is priced at $549 (around Rs 38,000). Then there is the small matter of the accessories. The Black Type Cover will cost an additional $99 and the Burgundy Type Cover will be priced at $129.99, for instance.

The reality is that the tablet and convertible space only generates some amount of excitement when Apple says something about the iPad or when Microsoft inevitably makes the Windows aficionados croon with joy with the mention of newer Surface convertible computing devices. In the quarterly results report released earlier this month, Microsoft had mentioned that "Surface revenue has jumped 25 percent year over year this quarter to $1.1 billion, driven by strong performance of the latest editions of Surface". What is interesting to note is that these strong numbers have come from the existing Surface models on sale, and the new Surface devices announced for this year will only make their mark, such as the Surface Go, once they actually go on sale.

Microsoft’s newest bet is the Surface Go, the most portable Surface in a line-up that includes the Surface Pro, Surface Laptop and Surface Book 2 in 13.5-inch and 15-inch screen sizes. For starters, it is also the lightest Surface on your pocket, priced upwards of $399 (around Rs 27,000). If priced well if and when it arrives in India sometime later this year, the Surface Go could compete with the Apple iPad 2018 (Rs28,000 onwards).

What you get with the Surface Go is a 10.6-inch display, a low-power 7th generation Intel processor, 64GB internal storage and runs Windows 10. Perhaps Microsoft missed a beat by not trying out something a bit more radical—such as a Qualcomm processor, for instance. While it’ll be gross injustice to call the Surface Go’s Intel Pentium Gold Processor 4415Y as underpowered, it’ll certainly not be most conducive to power computing, beyond basic tasks. We can argue all day about the different platforms being what they are, but for a similar price, the Apple A10 Fusion chip will be much quicker.

The newest Surface Pro ($799 onwards; Rs68,400 onwards on Amazon.in), with the 12.3-inch PixelSense display, and the Surface Laptop ($799 onwards) with the 13.5-inch PixelSense display till now were the entry price point if you wanted to replace your existing laptop or desktop.

Microsoft has put a 1,800 x 1,200 resolution display in Surface Go, whereas in comparison, the iPad has an 2,048 x 1,536 resolution display. If you are working on media, or want to use it as a gaming device too, the iPad is still a better bet. However, the Surface Go will be no slouch either.

Nevertheless, the Surface Go will work well with most apps meant for use at work, at home, and even meant for educational instances. But what’s the catch? Yes, the Surface Go runs Windows 10 S, which has been illustrated many times before as being restrictive and not exactly conducive to running apps that aren’t already available on the Windows Store. You’ll be able to switch to a full version of the Windows 10 operating system perhaps for free, so that’ll take care of that limitation.

Microsoft has played the Office 365 card very smartly, which includes the productivity aspect as well as the cloud storage feature. Services remain important for Microsoft, and this is a great way to get the productivity market sewn up. For anyone who travels a lot, the cellular capabilities in the iPad allows for working while on the move and being nowhere near a Wi-Fi connection. Microsoft says that the LTE feature in the Surface Go will arrive sometime in the future—that’s a big miss in our opinion, and it’ll keep early adopters away for the moment.

We must complement Microsoft’s new Surface Go as an attempt to bring some premium features of more expensive Surface Pro to a machine that’s ultra-portable, more affordable and looks the part too. That isn’t to say that this is the iPad “killer” just yet—it is certainly a first generation device that Microsoft will have to build on. However, the Microsoft Surface Go could give the potential Chrome OS adopters a viable alternative to consider too.


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