Microsoft just unveiled its latest tablet, the Surface 3, which starts at $499 and will be available May 5. Preorders start Tuesday.
One key element separates Microsoft’s latest Surface from its previous two: The Surface 3 runs the full version of Windows rather than the scaled back “RT” version, which isn’t capable of running full Windows apps. Previously, Microsoft Surface Pro models ran regular Windows while the standard Surfaces were stuck with RT.
The announcement comes just days after the blog WinBeta reported that Microsoft was working on a new Surface tablet that would run full Windows rather than RT.
Microsoft is also calling the Surface 3 its thinnest tablet yet, and it comes with a one-year subscription to Office 365.
Like the Surface Pro 3, the Surface 3 will come with Microsoft’s integrated kickstand. And while it supports stylus input, you will have to buy Microsoft’s Surface Pen separately. It has a smaller screen than the Pro model (10.8 inches versus 12 inches) and is not quite as powerful. Think of it this way: The Surface 3 is more of an iPad competitor, while the Surface Pro 3 is really a MacBook Air competitor.
It ships with Windows 8.1 but will be updated to Windows 10 when it launches later this year.
As with Microsoft’s previous Surface tablets, tons of Type Cover keyboard cases will be available in various colors. The tablet also comes with an 8-megapixel main camera and 3.5-megapixel front camera, and it is powered by Intel’s quad-core Atom x7 processor, which Intel just announced earlier this month. The base model comes with 64GB of storage and the more expensive version includes 128GB.
The most important detail, however, seems to be that Microsoft has finally killed off Windows RT. Until now, Microsoft’s Surface and Nokia’s Lumia 2520 were the only two tablets to run on Windows RT. It’s a smart move on Microsoft’s part — when Windows 8 initially launched, there was a lot of confusion around Windows 8 and Windows 8 RT. Consumers did not understand what the difference was and why they should opt for the full version of Windows versus RT.
Now that the new Surface is running on an Intel processor rather than the low-power ARM-based chips it used for the previous iterations, it can support the full version of Windows. Simply put, the newest Surface is poised to be Microsoft’s best one yet.