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Microsoft is reportedly looking to challenge Apple head-on in the tablet market by once again producing a cheaper Surface option, which would compete against Apple's $329 entry-level iPad.
The new Surface may ship as soon as the second half of 2018, and shrink from the 12.3 inches of the Surface Pro to about 10 inches, Bloomberg sources said. Microsoft is also claimed to be rounding off the edges of the chassis, and including USB-C — something so far missing from both the Surface Pro and iPads.
The tablet should also be 20 percent lighter than the Pro, but sacrifice about four hours of battery life. That may not be a great hardship, as that would put the device around or slightly under the 10-hour span of iPads.
Configurations are expected to include 64 or 128 gigabytes of storage, and optional LTE. Less costly versions of the Type Cover, Surface Pen, and Surface Mouse may be available.
An entry-level tablet is anticipated to cost $400, making it more expensive than Apple's equivalent, but with standard advantages of the Surface line including a kickstand and a desktop-level OS, Windows 10 Pro.
Microsoft originally tried to take on the iPad with two Surface tablets, but switched focus to the Pro once it became clear the low-price Surface RT with its own operating system was unpopular. That device was both less powerful than the Pro and unable to run as many apps.
Apple's budget iPad has proven popular, and been heavily marketed towards schools as an alternative to Chromebooks and Windows laptops. Microsoft could be hoping to hold or expand its educational footprint.